Role-playing games, or RPGs, have come a long way since their humble tabletop beginnings. After making the leap to the PC and console, they've now found a home your phone or tablet.
The best of the mobile lot lets players live out fantasy epics, transport them into far future space operas, or tell intimate, character-driven narratives. From old-school dungeon crawling classics to modern action RPGs and quirky little indies, check out two dozen of the best mobile RPGs for your Android or iOS device.
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Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Android, iOS: Free)
The latest Final Fantasy epic makes a smooth jump from console RPG to touch screen devices in Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Android, iOS). This episodic mobile RPG captures the core story and charm while cutting down on the grind common to the genre. You’ll appreciate the “chibi”-style graphics, which capture many of the same story beats and combat complexities of Prince Noctis's quest to bring peace to the warring lands of Lucis and Niflheim. You can download the first episode for free, with subsequent chapters available as in-app purchases.
Monster Hunter Stories (Android, iOS: $19.99)
The Monster Hunter series is a famously hardcore JRPG franchise, but Monster Hunter Stories (Android, iOS) is a pretty accessible entry into the series. A mobile port of the 3DS original, Stories shakes things up a bit by having you come from a village of Riders — people who can bond with the titanic monsters of the Monster Hunter universe. You’ll head out into the world looking for monster eggs to hatch and befriend, while taking on enemies in turn-based battles where you take advantage of your beast’s strengths and exploit your enemies’ weaknesses. The game loses out on some of the 3DS features such as Amiibo support, but it’s a big, meaty mobile RPG that should provide hours of gameplay on your phone.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Android, iOS: $9.99)
A delightfully retro turn-based RPG inspired by console greats, Battle Chasers: Nightwar (Android, iOS) takes place in the world of Joe Madureira’s dungeonpunk comics, as heroes Gully, Bastion and the war golem Calibretto crash-land on an island torn apart by a gold rush for magical energy. Nightwar’s great draw is its rich combat system, with each party member managing their special powers and attacks, while also generating Overcharge to power up their specials, and a party-wide Burst meter for game-changing supers. Each of the game’s six unlockable heroes brings their own abilities into the mix, so you’ll need to balance your three-character party comp to make the most out of your dungeon crawling.
Stardew Valley (iOS: $7.99)
For something less intense than epic quests or titanic monster hunts, check out Stardew Valley, the hit indie farming RPG which has finally made the jump from PC to iOS. Players inherit a rundown farm; with grit and hard work, can turn that family inheritance into the farm of their dreams. You plant crops, bring in the harvest, and reinvest your profits into expanding the farm and bringing in livestock. The game is more than just farming, with a neighboring community to visit and befriend, fishing spots to enjoy, and caves full of monsters and resources to explore.
Reigns: Game of Thrones (Android, iOS: $3.99)
Reigns has proven to be a popular swiping-based RPG on touchscreen devices, and now it’s taking on the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros in Reigns: Game of Thrones (Android, iOS). Through the fiery visions of the priestess Melisandre, you'll explore a tangle of alternate scenarios in Westeros, imagining how things might go down if characters like Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Cersei Lannister, or others had claimed and held the Iron Throne. As in previous Reigns games, you'll need to balance between the needs of the nobles, the priests, the people, and the Night's Watch, swiping left or right to choose your path. Each character you choose faces their own unique challenges, and as you play, you'll get the opportunity to unlock new leaders and scenarios to experience.
Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 (Android, iOS: Free)
Join the Devil Downloaders in their secret war against the Acolytes in Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 (Android, iOS), the latest mobile entry of the acclaimed JRPG franchise. As a Devil Downloader, you’ll explore a fantasy Tokyo where you can summon demons to foil the Acolytes’ many plots. To do so, you'll need to use each demon’s unique traits and abilities to gain an edge in battle. Through cunning and diplomacy, you can also turn enemy demons to your side, as well as fuse demons together to create ever mightier champions out of myth and legend to join your side. The game is free to play, so you’ve got stamina limiting your games, as well as a variety of currencies and a gatcha-like summoning mechanic to the demon collection minigame.
Langrisser Mobile (Android, iOS: Free)
The RPG series Langrisser makes the leap to mobile, with deep turn-based battle gameplay designed to challenge new players and veterans alike. In Langrisser Mobile (Android, iOS), you’ll need to balance each unit’s abilities against the strengths and weaknesses of your enemy, while also managing your heroes as you fight your way through the main campaign, sidequests and PVP battles. You don’t even need to know anything about the earlier games, as a Time Rift feature lets you experience classic battles and story highlights of the previous games, netting you some nice loot as well as catching you up on the backstory. There are going to be some free-to-play and gatcha summoning mechanics, which might turn off purists, but Langrisser is a nice free tactical RPG experience on mobile.
Evoland 2 (Android, iOS: $3.99)
Evoland 2: A Slight Case of Spacetime Continuum Disorder (Android, iOS) takes you down a trip through gaming history and evolution. Under your guidance, time-travelling heroes Kuro and Fina journey through the various genres and eras of video gaming history as they try to save the world. Melding a variety of genres and eras from top-down Zelda-likes to sidescrolling platformers, bullet hell shooters, and even rhythm battles and trading card games, Evoland 2 offers players both impressive variety and nostalgia. Even better, this version turns out to be a lengthier game than its rather short original.
Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (Android, iOS: $17.99)
A legendary title from the golden age of PS1 classic RPGs, Valkyrie Profile comes to the mobile age with Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth (Android, iOS). As one of Odin’s Valkyries, you must wander the world searching for the souls of the mighty, the broken and the lost to see who among them is worthy to join the Einherjar — warriors who will serve in the wars of the gods. Combining combo-based combat, exploration and light platforming, and an intricate plot, Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth stands up well even to more modern games and is worth its premium price.
Into The Dark: Narakan (iOS: $2.99)
Into The Dark: Narakan (iOS) combines tile-based combat and exploration with sparse but evocative storytelling as players plunge into a beast-haunted forest in search of a child. Starting with an amnesiac protagonist, as you progress, you will stumble upon icons that can slowly unlock your character’s memories, each fragment telling a small part of your story and your connection to the child. You’ll also unlock a weapon from your past or a source of power from the woods. Each weapon and spell comes with its own unique attack pattern, giving the game’s turn-based combat a puzzle-like feel as you maneuver to bring your arms to bear against the inhabitants of the woods. The game comes with a story mode, as well as an Endless mode for players who want more of Into The Dark’s puzzle combat mechanics.
Severed (iOS: $6.99)
Sasha is having a very bad day, emerging in a nightmarish underworld to find her family missing, her left arm a bloody stump, and a mysterious stranger offering her a strange, living sword. Featured among Apple's Best of 2016 apps, Severed has players guiding Sasha through her quest to rescue her family, exploring the netherworld and engaging in swipe-based combat as you cut past the monsters in your way and harvest their limbs to grant you supernatural powers. Swipes are both attack and defense, parrying enemy attacks and leaving them open to your own strikes. The game spices things up by throwing multiple enemies at you from different directions, making threat management and smart use of special abilities key to surviving and rescuing your family.
Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind (iOS: $9.99)
A spiritual successor to the clan management RPG King of Dragon Pass, Six Ages: Ride Like The Wind fuses strategy and RPG gaming together. You lead your fledgling clan council and decide the fate of your people as you balance the physical and spiritual needs of your clan and relations with your many neighbors. Along the way, you'll face magical and monstrous threats, as well as a looming war between the gods of Glorantha. As with the original King of Dragon Pass, the real gems in this game are the more than 400 interactive scenes that present you with moral, diplomatic, military and religious dilemmas. Your choices and outcomes are impacted by your clan's history, traits, and the skills of the leaders in your clan council.
Cultist Simulator (Android, iOS: $6.99)
Part card-game, part RPG, Cultist Simulator (Android, iOS) is a game that puts you in the role of a cult leader seeking power, wisdom, or an impossible transformation. The game begins with a bare-bones tutorial before quickly handing off control to the players. You’re presented with a spread of cards representing your cult’s wealth, followers, occult knowledge and your mortal and immortal foes. You also have a series of actions that you can use to combine cards to achieve tasks as simple as going to an occult bookstore to as esoteric as summoning rituals and expeditions to mysterious ruins and unreal dreamscapes. Filled with tantalizing and evocative prose and designed like an intricate puzzlebox, Cultist Simulator is a unique experience that’s best entered into with as little knowledge as possible as you explore the bounds of the mysterious Mansus.
Warhammer Quest 2 (iOS: $4.99)
Fight back against the rising tide of Chaos in Warhammer Quest 2: The End Times, a tactical dungeon crawler set in the Old World of the Warhammer Fantasy games. Players take command of heroes from the various races of the Warhammer world, plundering dungeons and defeating enemies in a quest for a mystic artifact. The base game comes with a 10-mission campaign and side quests, with additional missions and characters available through in-app purchases.
Darkest Dungeon (iPad: $4.99)
Steel your body and soul and do battle against the blasphemous horrors of the Darkest Dungeon, Red Hook Studio’s brutally atmospheric rogue-like dungeon crawler. As inheritor of a cursed estate, it’s up to you to gather a stable of heroes ready to raid its depths and rid the ruins of the many monsters and terrors that your ancestor unleashed. The dungeons and their denizens are brutal and merciless, and you’ll have to manage not just your heroes’ bodies but also their stress levels and mental stability. The game features a wealth of hero classes to try out, and while the dungeon crawl can get grindy, its atmospherics are pitch-perfect in replicating a gothic horror feel.
Cat Quest (Android, iOS: $4.99)
For something less grim and more whimsical, check out Cat Quest (Android, iOS), a tongue-in-cheek action RPG by the Gentlebros. Go on a quest to rescue your catnapped sister from the hands of the evil Drakoth and his dragon minions. At the same time, you'll explore the world, doing good deeds for your fellow cats while fighting monsters. The real-time combat system is all about timing and positioning, as you tap on vulnerable foes to strike, long press to bring up your magic spells, and dance away as enemies charge up their attack, making for digestible but dynamic gameplay. There's a fair amount of open world area to explore, while still providing fun that can be enjoyed in short bursts or long sittings. Fair warning: there are puns. So many cat puns.
Galaxy of Pen & Paper (Android, iOS: $4.99)
Trade your broadswords for blasters in Galaxy of Pen & Paper (Android, iOS), the latest RPG parody game from Behold Studios. Galaxy retains the pixel retro art style of Knights of Pen & Paper as well as that game's delightful sense of humor. This time around, the app takes aim at science fiction games, books and movies in a loving parody of SF tabletop gaming. Galaxy adds a ton of new gameplay elements to the old turn-based battle standby of the Pen & Paper series, including space battles, branching stories and planetary exploration.
Star Traders: Frontiers (Android, iOS: $6.99)
The Trese Brothers return to space with Star Traders: Frontiers (Android, iOS), a persistent world sandbox RPG that puts you in command of your own starship in a dangerous star sector. As inheritor of a Star Trader charter, it’s up to you to decide what you’ll do with your ancestral vessel. Will you go after dangerous bounties, explore alien worlds, haul valuable cargo, or dabble in the politics of the sector’s rival factions? Configure your ship, hire the right crew, and take to the stars!
Rogue Wizards (iOS: Free)
Overthrow a tyrannical magical order in Rogue Wizards, a cartoony turn-based dungeon crawler that has you exploring monster-filled depths and coming out with loads of loot and gear for your merry band of magical rebels. The game combines the addictive game loop of dungeon delve and gear upgrading with a touchscreen friendly turn-based combat system that doesn't sacrifice tactical depth. In between dungeon crawls, you can kit out your wizard's tower and upgrade your town or recruit new members for your team. Players get the entire game free, with in-app purchases or video ads allowing you to buy gems (which you can also earn via play); a single "2x Gem Booster" purchase gives players the same drop rate and game balance as the premium PC version.
Planescape: Torment (Android, iOS: $9.99)
Planescape: Torment (Android, iOS) is a modern computer RPG classic, taking Dungeons & Dragons away from the Tolkeinesque medieval fantasy and into altogether stranger territories. Players explore the extra-dimensional melting pot that is Sigil, the City of Doors, as they quest to unlock their nameless character's lost memories and answer the question: "What can change the nature of a man?" Along the way, you'll assemble a motley crew of companions, such as the talking skull Morte, the chaste succubus Fall-From-Grace and other strange entities. The enhanced edition leaves the critically acclaimed story and dialogue untouched, while adapting the interface to a more mobile-friendly mode, as well as applying a variety of bug fixes.
Shieldwall Chronicles (Android: $5.99; iOS: $9.99)
Wave Light Games continues to release tough tactical RPGs with the arrival of Shieldwall Chronicles (Android, iOS), a return to fantasy form after Strike Team Hydra. Players will build their own mercenary band of six heroes, before heading out on adventures in the perilous North, engaging in desperate battles against undead, lizardfolk, demons and other foes. You'll need to make the most out of each of your heroes' abilities as you use superior positioning and tactics to break your enemy's will and send them fleeing from the field. Multiple difficulty modes, a wealth of loot to collect and a range of unique heroes to recruit give Shieldwall Chronicles a lot of replayability for mobile gamers looking for a combat-focused RPG.
Titan Quest (Android, iOS: $7.99)
DotEmu brings an action RPG classic to the mobile age with its port of Titan Quest (Android, iOS) to modern mobile devices. Titan Quest takes the formula pioneered by Diablo and ports it over to the ancient world as you fight your way through monsters out of Greek, Egyptian and Asian mythology. A premium desktop game with controls reworked for mobile, Titan Quest avoids miserly monetization strategies in exchange for a 60-plus hour campaign without in-app powerup purchases.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (iOS: $9.99)
Return to a galaxy far, far away in the mobile port of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Android, iOS). Set 4,000 years before the events of the Star Wars movies, Knights of the Old Republic (KotOR) puts players in the middle of a galaxy-spanning war between the Jedi and Sith. The game features an intricate storyline and branching dialogue, allowing players to choose between the Light and Dark paths in their battle against the vicious Darth Malak.
The World Ends With You (Android, iOS: $17.99)
The World Ends With You: Solo Remix (Android, iOS) is Square Enix's mobile port of its critically acclaimed Nintendo DS title. A stylish and surprisingly dark Japanese RPG, TWEWY:SR puts you in control of Neku, a boy trapped in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo and compelled to fight for his life in the Reaper's Game. Featuring frenetic touchscreen combat, an awesome soundtrack and a unique visual style, The World Ends With You Solo Remix is a first-rate gaming experience, with a correspondingly hefty price.