There has been a plethora of great mobile RPGs coming out over the last year. Unfortunately, for every Ravensword or Final Fantasy IV, there’s an Ark of the Ages waiting to ruin your day. While the problem of sub-par games stretches across both Android and iPhone platforms, it’s particularly annoying in the Play Store thanks to their lax vetting system. Hidden in this avalanche of “meh” games are quite a few gems though. If you’re a fan of RPGs, check out Hardcore Droid’s list of the best RPGs you’ve never heard of.
Tales of Illyria
HD Score – 3.5
If you’re an 80s baby, chances are you played The Oregon Trail in school. The gameplay in Tales of Illyria, a party-based episodic Android RPG from developer Little Killerz, is the lovechild of Oregon Trail and Heroes of Might and Magic. Much of it plays like highly random interactive fiction with cool, strategic combat. Like Knights of the Old Republic, you have the option during side quests to choose between good and evil, and, just like the original KotOR, your choices don’t impact the main storyline. Illyria is an ambitious RPG that raises the bar for expansive mobile gaming worlds across all genres and platforms.
HD Score: 4.0
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, including dynamic combat and a rumored multiplayer feature set for implementation later this year. 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
HD Score – 4
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.
HD Score – N/A
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.
Avernum: Escape from the Pit
HD Score – 4.0
Originally released on the PC and Mac, Avernum is a party-based open world role playing series developed by Spiderweb Software. Jeff Vogel based the mobile iteration of Escape from the Pit on old school RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and Ultima 7. A somewhat modernized version of one of Spiderweb’s earlier game worlds, Escape from the Pit is reminiscent of tabletop role playing games. Pits tend to be gloomy places, and this title is filled with a lot of neutral and dark colors to recreate that atmosphere. Avernum: Escape from the Pit is a bit more expensive than your typical casual Android title, but the game’s length makes it a worthwhile investment that easily beats the entertainment value you’ll get from a movie or album at the same price point.
Avadon: The Black Fortress
HD Score – N/A
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.
HD Score – 3.8
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 this Ho!’s barebones production values lies a deep and rich rogue-like 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 the excellent writing. 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 an immersive RPG experience.
HD Score – 4.0
In QuestLord, you choose to play as a human, elf, or dwarf and set out to save the realm from destruction. Sporting 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 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 game.