Every game is an adventure, whether you’re spin-kicking the mullets off of street fighters or laying waste to a blasted hellscape with your trusty rocket launcher. (Or even playing something more pacifistic, like a particularly devilish puzzler.) But when an adventure turns into a journey, and a journey into a campaign…then, friends, you’ve got yourself an RPG. Role-playing games are some of the most popular videogames for sale today, and no wonder—the combination of an engaging story and exhilarating combat is a guaranteed hit, if it’s executed well.
Unfortunately, the Android market has a glut of RPGs that don’t fit those standards; most of them have either lackluster gameplay, a tedious storyline, or both. Still, that’s no reason to assume that we ‘Droid gamers don’t have any options when it comes to mobile RPG entertainment. In fact, there’s a horde of great games just waiting to be downloaded if you know where to find them (hint: it’s called the Play Store). The games below represent some of the best RPGs Android developers have to offer, from level up-based puzzlers to ported console games. This list was made with the mainstream gamer in mind, so some of them may seem a little casual for an extreme site like ours; if you want a rundown of the absolute most intense RPG experiences possible, Hardcore Droid members can check out our Most Hardcore RPGs list here.
Now let’s get the ball rolling with one of our new favorites:
Old school tabletop fans, rejoice: your prince has returned. Shadowrun, the granddaddy if cyberpunk RPGs, has made its first migration to Android, and the results are excellent. The first storyline is linear, yes, and the app clocks in at $10–but the story is gripping, the graphics are beautiful, and the gameplay is more fun than a barrel of cyberdecks. Once the next adventures begin arriving as DLC, Shadowrun Returns might become the best value on the RPG market.
Featuring some of the best 3D graphics on the Droid, Ravensword:Shadowlands has all the basics of open world RPG gameplay (level exploration, grinding for gold/experience, upgrade items, etc.) in a condensed mobile package. Think of it as Skyrim Light. You play as a soldier who survived a mysterious event that wiped out both sides of the battlefield. As the game progresses, you learn what happened and why you were spared. Ravensword: Shadowlands is one of the most expansive open-world RPGs available on the Android.
“Rocks fall, everybody dies.” The old Dungeon Master’s maxim still holds true for this dungeon-crawling study in player death. Imagine you’re playing a casual game of Minesweeper, going through a grid of squares bit by bit, always nervous that one wrong move could set off a lethal bomb to end the game. Now replace those bombs with zombies, slime monsters, poison traps–and the possibility of shiny treasure. if that sounds to you like a great representation of vintage RPG tropes, you’re absolutely right. Though not without its flaws–minimizing the game will trash your progress–Dungelot’s brutal difficulty, replayability, and tiny price tag will make hardcore gamers love every pulse-quickening second.
Read Dungelot HD review
We’ve noticed an influx of games recently that combine the casual fun of tile matching puzzles with other genres, like side-scrolling action (Combat Cats) and turn-based strategy (Tiny Token Empires). 10000000 is another addition to this pantheon, placing you in a pixelated dungeon and forcing you to do battle with similarly blocky enemies in order to level up, increase your score to the titular number, and escape. There’s a surprising amount of detail in those low-resolution graphics, and finding the right tile is rarely frustrating. But the real entertainment is above the puzzle—leveling up increases your offensive and defensive options, but also amps up your opponents’ toughness, so there’s always a perfect level of difficulty to keep players hooked. It’s a little lighter on story than we normally like our RPGs, but for killing time (and ninjas) on the bus, it’s tough to beat 10000000.
Read 10000000 HD review
The Bard’s Tale
For ‘Droid enthusiasts hardcore about their Western RPGs, it really comes down to a small handful of choices and The Bard’s Tale is one of the best of the lot. Inxile’s port of the 2004 classic PC and Console game played like every ‘Droid gamer’s WRPG wish list made real. Of all the Android apps tagged with the RPG moniker, The Bard’s Tale is one of three where the lion’s share of Western RPG cornerstones are solidly set in place. The game features rich character customization via a balanced and functional RPG system, a protagonist who physically changes as he dons new arms and a cool, somewhat unique magic system, wherein the bard (that’s you) conjures one to a few fantasy-themed familiars to assist him as he quests and battles. Though it was a port, we loved it so much that we named it Best RPG of 2012, in our Hardcore Holiday Issue, writing: “Its overall design, a hybrid of open-world and action RPG with aspects of narrative driven adventure games sprinkled into the mix, makes for the best kind of role-playing game,” which still holds true. If you’re both an Android and WRPG fan, go download it now. We’re not kidding.
Although it’s a free-to-play MMORPG that runs on IAPs, Arcane Legends somehow made our Most Hardcore list. No easy feat.
Having cut their teeth on a handful of MMO titles, developer Spacetime Studios managed to tag all the bases when they created Arcane Legends. While the game’s art direction, controls and role-playing system are not going to win any prizes for originality, each of these elements is well-rendered and produced with great aplomb. What’s more, it’s a lot of fun to play. And lastly, while Hardcore Droid is at war with greedy IAP schemes, from what we can see, players can have hours of fun without spending a dime, so Arcane Legends gets a bona fide pass.
Read Arcane Legends HD review
Final Fantasy series
Unless your only gaming buddies are the worms around that rock you live under, you know that the Final Fantasy games are among the best this genre has to offer. Android gamers now have the pleasure of playing classics in the series, like FF III and IV, complete with old-school stories and stunning new high-end 3D graphics. Square Enix have revisited their old catalog so they could jack it up to 11, and the results feel like two totally new games.
If that wasn’t enough, two original FF titles for Android–Chaos Rings II and Dimensions–have shown that Square can still combine innovation with their classic formula. Yeah, assorted worlds are about to be destroyed and you’re the only ones who can save them, but you’ll do so while controlling multiple parties with different objectives, solving an elaborate murder mystery, and navigating a more complex Job System. The price tags might cause some to balk, but if you’ve got the cash, these RPGs are among the very best on the market. For a rundown of the all of the Android ports of the Final Fantasy games, go to ‘Reviews’ on our main navigation bar then to ‘RPG’. There you’ll find a review of every single Square RPG, and there are a few.
When graphical computer games first started gaining popularity in the early 1980’s, Richard Garriott’s Ultima series created many RPG standards still used today, including detailed plot lines, inventory/loot systems, and party-based combat. 9th Dawn pays homage to the original Ultima series, closely resembling the retro graphics and gameplay of the iconic role playing legend. Creating an open-world experience on mobile platforms is a difficult task, but 9thDawn accomplishes it quite well. Fans of the original Ultima games will love the many modernized elements offered by this rich and compelling Android RPG, including multiplayer and dynamic combat. Regardless of your level of familiarity with classic computer RPGs, this title is a worthy addition to any mobile gamer’s library.
Read 9th Dawn HD review
Avadon: The Black Fortress
Another party-based open world RPG from Jeff Vogel, The Black Fortress is the first game of Spider Web’s new Avadon trilogy. The turn-based combat and vast world translates so well you’ll think you’re playing on your computer. If you enjoyed Neverwinter Nights, this role playing game is right up your alley. Choose between a Blademaster, Shadowwalker, Shaman or Sorceress, recruit 2 more party members, and investigate a conspiracy against Redbeard, the powerful and mysterious commander of the fortress of Avadon.
Read Avadon: The Black Fortress HD review
Aralon: Sword and Shadow
While it admittedly suffers from an occasional bug or three and the second half feels at times unfinished, Aralon is the real deal. It boasts a functional story, an open 3D world filled with engaging baddies and bits and pieces of story, and it’s backed up by a rich, original role-playing system. Character creation and development come replete with a host of options: three distinct races, seven classes and a decent skill and leveling system. It also boasts day and night cycles, nuanced character customization and a decent selection of weapons and armor. In the final analysis, there’s a definite pleasure to be had in traipsing around a huge open virtual world on the tiny screen. Hardcore Droid contributor Travis Fahs gave the game a winning 4 out of 5, writing: “You really won’t find a more robust modern RPG experience on your ‘Droid.”
In QuestLord, you choose to play as a human, elf, or dwarf and set out to save the realm from destruction. The 8-bit graphics and accessible user interface make for a solid retro RPG experience on the Android. The graphics aren’t hi-tech, but they’re not meant to be. This game is a nod to retro with compelling gameplay, secret passages and monster-battling action. Gamers pining for the classic days of RPG gaming on the PC can add another star to QuestLord. Even if you’re from the new school, you’ll be hard pressed to find a more solid game.
Read QuestLord HD Review
The Most Hardcore RPGs Ever Made
For core gamers who’s genre of choice is the RPG, we have the Most Hardcore RPGs Ever Made list which is part of the magazine. Become a subscriber to Hardcore Droid today and check it out along with all of our Most Hardcore lists, as well as our digital magazine, our app and a bunch of other stuff. If you’ like to learn more go here >>>
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