Let’s face it. Android RPGs, by and large, tend to suck.
It’s sad but true. Between ill-conceived ports, uninspired original efforts, games that feel like they belong on Facebook and the usual microtransaction laden mess, there aren’t many games out there that already make the daunting prospect of devoting hour upon hour staring at your mobile device trying to save the world any more appealing.
But that makes it all the more important to properly recognize the games that do. It’s become something of a tradition here at Hardcore Droid to navigate the barren wastelands known at the RPG section of the Google Play Store, and share with you a running list of those few rays of life that remain. Or, as we like to call them, The Most Hardcore Android RPGs Ever Made.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow
The first of developer Crescent Moon Games appearances on this list, is a title that doesn’t only do an admirable job of aping some more recent open world RPG games, but actually possesses a couple qualities those same games would do well to learn from.
This is especially true of the amount of little things this game allows you to do. It’s one thing to play a game that puts you on a quest to save the world, and quite another to play a game that does the same, but also lets you enjoy some handpicked tobacco while doing a little fishing along the way.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow is a beautiful realization of what’s possible when the intangibles are paid the proper respect. It’s truly an experience.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Aralon: Sword and Shadow Here
Avadon: The Black Fortress/Avernum: Escape From the Pit
While clearly inspired by the isometric RPGs of yore (most notably Diablo and Bauldur’s Gate), both Avadon and Avernum prove to deep and innovative enough to actually stand shoulder to shoulder with their predecessors, as opposed to looking up at them in envy.
These are as pure of dungeon crawlers as you’ll find on Android, and are perfect for anyone who subscribes to the scientific fact that RPGs achieved perfection sometime during the late 90s.Read EuroGamer’s Review of Avadon: The Black Fortress Here Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Avernum: Escape From the Pit Here
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
Speaking of Baldur’s Gate.
The one word that you keep hearing whenever someone speaks of Baldur’s Gate is timeless. This Android version of the game proves that description is not only more than mere hyperbole, but actually improves upon that original experience with a host of Enhanced Edition features that make this arguably the best Baldur’s Gate yet.
Baldur’s Gate helped write the book on how to do the American RPG, and this Android edition proves it could still hold class today.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Here
The Bard’s Tale
As just about every Wayans brothers movie proves, parody is a hard thing to do well. Make it too blunt, and the audience just feels awkward. Make it too subtle, and the point, if there is one in the first place, goes right over many of their heads.
The Bard’s Tale is not only a case of parody don’t right, but is indeed the medium at its best. This twisted take on the RPG genre gets its sharp wit from a tounge-in-cheek view on everything role-playing, but as its surprisingly involved gameplay proves, it also respects the genre enough to lend credence to its humorous slander.
It’s as classic as gaming comedy gets.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of The Bard’s Tale Here
The topic of what is the greatest RPG of all time may be as subjective as any “best of” topic, but cite the name of Chrono Trigger in that argument, and you don’t usually get many rebuttals.
This time traveling tale of boy named Chrono, and his quest to prevent the coming apocalypse has long been hailed as the single greatest JRPG ever made, and I’m not inclined to argue with that assessment. It may suffer from a few bugs in transition to Android, but regardless of your personal gaming preferences, this is one of the ten most essential games of all time.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Chrono Trigger Here
Crystal Story II
Crystal Story II‘s decidedly low-budget looks may be hard to get past, but the sooner you manage to, the sooner you get to experience one of the greatest throwbacks to the golden age of the 16 bit JRPG to be found on Android.
I could tell you about the game’s insane character building options, genuinely enjoyable plot and hours of varied gameply to justify that statement, but what really separates Crystal Story II is the obvious love that went into making it. Developer Emmanuel Salva Cruz even pleads on the game’s listing to contact him directly for any problems with the game whatsoever. So far, I’ve found no reason to do so.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Crystal Story II Here
Final Fantasy I-VI
I sometimes think the long-term appeal of developer Square Enix’s revolutionary RPG series Final Fantasy, was in some part a prank on gaming media types, who must somehow conjure new ways to convey its brilliance every time they are ported to a new platform. I for one refuse to indulge their egos yet again by reminding you that this run in the series produced some of the most unquestionably masterful games of…
Oh dammit, they got me again! Look, these are the Final Fantasy games you know and love, all remastered and expertly ported to the Android. If you’re looking for a specific recommendation, it’s hard to argue against the brilliant enhanced editions of III and IV, but really it’s all good.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Final Fantasy III Here Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Final Fantasy IV Here
Heroes of Steel
When the Trese brothers took Heroes of Steel to Kickstarter, they promised a different kind of mobile RPG experience. One that didn’t make any concessions to the idea that mobile games had to be for the casual market above all, and instead could be just as challenging and complex as any great PC RPG.
And you know what? That’s exactly what they did. Heroes of Steel is not a simple game, and there are many who will likely be beaten down by its brutal nature. Tough it out, though, and you’ll be rewarded with a shockingly deep story topped only by a combat system that requires genuine thought to succeed in. For a no bullshit old-school RPG challenge, this is about as good as it gets.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Heroes of Steel Here
While an easy contender for the best looking mobile game ever made, once you get past Ravensword‘s visuals long enough to pick your jaw up off the floor, you’ll promptly start using it to tell everyone you know just how much pure content is in this game.
Essentially a pocket version of Skyrim, Ravensword may be missing some of the subtle brilliance of that game, but more than makes up for it by being an open ended RPG of such technical superiority, it often feels like a delivery from the future.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Ravensword: Shadowlands Here
So much of the brilliance of Shadowrun Returns stems from the creativity of its world. It’s a Blade Runner inspired cyber-punk dystopian future, where the warring presences of technology and magic have drastically altered society, and you’re smack dab in the middle of the conflict.
It’s a world built off many influences, but honestly there are few games this side of the Fallout series that can lay claim to such an awe inspiring, and ultimately unique, backdrop. Wrap that atmosphere around a fantastic tactics based combat system, and you’ve got a contender for the best game on Android, full-stop.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Shadowrun Returns Here
Tales of Illyria: Fallen Knight/Beyond the Iron Wall
With all the great games regularly released across all platforms, perhaps it should be no surprise that occasionally an Android title would get overlooked. That being said, it’s time that everyone becomes aware of the hidden gem that is the Tales of Illyria series.
If the Oregon Trail games took place in the Game of Thrones world, and featured choose your own adventure moments of morally complex decision making, they would resemble Tales of Illyria. These games feature journeys so epic, they may very well help restore meaning to that word. Go out of your way to play these gems, and then get ready to recommend them to everyone you know.Read Hardcore Droid’s Review of Tales of Illyria: Fallen Knight Here Read Hardcore Droid’s review of Tales of Illyria: Beyond the Iron Wall Here (subscribers only)