Perhaps you’re like me, and you like your RPGs epic and long-standing. That’s good—it means you demand a lot of your games regardless of what platform they’re on. Of course, this means that you and I are setting ourselves up for disappointment, and a lot of it, when shopping for a great Android RPG. But fear not! Once again, we here at Hardcore Droid have got your back, thus for the second year in a row, we present to you the Best Android RPGs You’ve Never Heard of.
9th Dawn – see HD’s review (4.0)
($2.99 at Google Play)
When graphical computer games first started gaining popularity in the early 1980’s, Richard Garriott’s Ultima series created many RPG standards still used today, including detailed plot lines, inventory/loot systems, and party-based combat. 9th Dawn pays homage to the original Ultima series, closely resembling the retro graphics and gameplay of the iconic role-playing legend. Creating an open-world experience on mobile platforms is a difficult task, but 9th Dawn accomplishes it quite well. Fans of the original Ultima games will love the many modernized elements offered by this rich and compelling Android RPG. Regardless of your level of familiarity with classic computer RPGs, this title is a worthy addition to any mobile gamer’s library.
Epic Pirates Story – see HD’s review (4.0)
($.99 Cents at Google Play)
No man is an island, but with Epic Pirates Story, a buccaneer-themed ArrrrrPG inspired by Kairosoft’s mobile simulations, you can at least own one. Choose your pirate’s gender, name them, and select an island home, then set out on a swashbuckling adventure to build your following and seek revenge against the pirate king who captured your father. The gameplay is addictive and the writers did a great job of incorporating a humorous story into this somewhat obscure Android role playing game. Manage and grow your island’s population, build up your island base, and participate in quests and battles for booty. Pirates is a bright and colorful Caribbean adventure RPG that will make your boredom walk the plank.
An oubliette is a dungeon with only one entrance and exit; the game that bears its name is one of the most challenging games in any mobile market. This RPG dungeon crawler appearing on the Android and iPhone is actually one of the earliest role playing video games in history. The mobile version of Oubliette was designed by John Gaby, one of the original creators of the mainframe version from the 1970s. The menu system is a bit cumbersome (this role player isn’t meant for casual players), but mobile role playing gamers who enjoy besting a steep difficulty curve will enjoy testing out their best strategies on Oubliette’s challenges, any one of which is worthy of today’s most brutal MMO instances.
Quest Lord – see HD’s review (4.0)
($1.99 at Google Play)
In Quest Lord, you choose to play as a human, elf, or dwarf and set out to save the realm from destruction. Sporting somehow elegant 8-bit graphics and an accessible user interface, this simple and charming open world RPG experience is one of the best available on Android. The graphics aren’t hi-tech, but they’re not meant to be. This title is a nod to retro with compelling gameplay, secret passages and monster-battling action. Gamers pining for the days of 8 bit CRPGs can add another star to QuestLord. Even if you’re from the new school, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more solid mobile RPG.
Dungeon Ho! – see HD review (3.8)
($.99 cents at Google Play)
When your friends are trying to set you up with someone, the first thing you want to know about is what your possible mate looks like. If they’re ugly, you’ll usually hear about their personality instead. Dungeon Ho! has a lot of personality. Underneath Ho!’s barebones production values, however, lies a deep and rich roguelike RPG. The difficulty level creates a barrier of entry that will turn away your average casual gamer, but hardcore role playing fans will love the title’s depth and excellent writing, spare as it is. Dungeon Ho! features a wide array of skills, weapons, and spells to manage during battles. What the game lacks in looks, it more than makes up for with beautiful atmospheric music and expansive gameplay, creating one of the best roguelikes Android has to offer.
Heroes of Steel – see HD review (4.6)
(Free prologue at Google Play)
This is a fancy game that brings old-school elements in, and kicks them up a notch. The story goes that the gods have been brought down to Earth and in turn the people have taken to hiding within a complex cave system underground. Your motivations as a race are spurred on by desperation, but it’s clear that the game developers were much more confident than the characters they built. Heroes of Steel falls just short of a perfect five because of mildly repetitive enemy design—but that seems to be its only short-coming. The design is comprehensive and frankly impressive with nary a glitch in sight. The characters and turn-based combat system are highly customizable. And speaking of combat, there’s no cushion to land on if you fall, which means you’ve got to keep an eye on your whole party at all times. However, if one member dies, you have the option of going back one turn or restoring to a previous save point. Heroes of Steel is not for the faint of heart, but it is for the hardcore gamer.
Crystal Story – see HD review (3.8)
($.99 at Google Play)
Crystal Story does not stick out for its storyline’s originality (or lack thereof). However, that should let you know just how fast the variety this game offers will turn you into an addiction-riddled gamer with their android glued to their hands. For a cliché storyline and characters who are literally tropes, the game does well not to take itself too seriously. In fact, cut scenes are almost welcome because they are comically stock. However, the characters are all completely customizable. No one in your party comes with a set class, and you can develop them with whatever ability points you see fit. AND, with the click of a button and a little of your hard-earned gold, you can wiped the points and start over. This all gives Crystal Story tons of replay value, but it doesn’t stop there. The enemies have a wide variety of ability, the equipment is upgradable, there are tons of spells to learn and side quests to keep you busy if things ever slow down. Crystal Story makes up for its weak tale with strong gameplay elements that will keep you coming back for more.
Crystal Story II: War of the Shattered Sky – see HD review (4.5)
($1.99 at Google Play)
The sequel to our darling Crystal Story only lost half a point because it was not glitch-free upon review. However, this game takes game elements that worked in its predecessor and makes them even more awesome. In CS II, the world has gotten bigger, quite literally. The main character is fighting to close a sky-shattering portal that will kick off an invasion of Dragons (Nope. Not a spelling error.). There are more classes available to play, more ways to develop your equipment and items, and a whole new slew of mini-games and side quests. The game allows you to skip those silly cut scenes if you want, but there are so many distractions along the way that you may want to hang in there just to find out where you’re headed. Plus, the battle system has become more sophisticated; the speed with which you choose your actions actually affects how well they hit their mark, and that’s just one of the ways in which CS II has evolved. No matter what you play RPGs for, the sequel to Crystal Story has got you covered.
Dungeon Crawlers – see HD review (3.9)
($2.99 at Google Play)
Some games are excellent simply because they are unlike anything that came before them. Others are brilliant because they lean on their elders, and innovate. Dungeon Crawlers does neither, however it does fit comfortably in the sub-category of tile-based strategy RPGs. What makes it unique is that it makes regular use of pop culture references. The characters names are a play on Ghostbusters, a movie which is also oft-quoted throughout the game. The visuals, too, are reminiscent of goofier comic strips, but rendered in three dimensions. In fact nothing about this game is too heavy, even once you find out that loss of a party member means likely loss of an entire level. The good news is you can restart the level with a complete party again, and Dungeon Crawlers is such a good time that you won’t even mind.
Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf – see HD review (4.0)
($4.59 at Google Play)
Lone Wolf is exactly as its name suggests: it stands alone in the experience it creates for you as a player. While the driving force behind Lone Wolf is a choose-your-own-adventure of an interactive story, there are mini-games to be played and battles to be fought. Those battles, rendered in beautiful, fully animated 3D graphics, are one of the parts of Lone Wolf that elevate it to such perfection. It might be fairer to compare Lone Wolf to a digital, single-player version of D&D, where you are your own Dungeon Master. The book elements of storytelling are somehow preserved. In order to progress, you turn the page, and the text is accompanied by masterful illustrations that goad you forward. As in any good story, death is no laughing matter, although the folks at Bulkypix planned ahead. After a losing battle, you can either try that battle again, load your last save file, or retry fighting the enemy on a lower difficulty for less loot. Beware, though, as some fights are simply unwinnable if you find yourself along the wrong path. It is this entirely unique combination of choose your own adventure storybook and 3D action-RPG battle sequences that makes Lone Wolf stand alone. Most of the progression of the game relies on story elements, which leaves you with little control over your skill and item development. Some players will find this thrilling, and others may get annoyed, but the choice is in your hands.