The mobile games market is often derided by gamers, known more for its predatory gacha games and cheap licensed titles. But there are actually a lot of great games on iOS, including long-time classics and new games that redefine what mobile gaming can be.
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RPGs are aplenty on iOS, and the best ones use the platform to their advantage. The genre tends to be full of games with epic length, and that’s what makes them so great. You can jump in, complete a quest or two, and you’ll have plenty to go back to later.
Genshin Impact is probably the biggest game in the world right now. It’s a big, epic RPG by Chinese developer MiHoYo, featuring a sweeping quest, multiple unlockable characters, and plenty of things to do. Genshin is always changing, getting new worlds to explore, characters to play as, and even new gameplay mechanics.
While it’s true this is a gacha game, it’s not nearly as bad as others. You can play Genshin Impact without ever spending any money on it all. All quests are freely available to you, and you can earn in-game currency relatively quickly.
Final Fantasy 7
Final Fantasy 7 is regarded by some as one of the greatest video games of all time. Its sweeping story, epic set-piece battles, and interesting environments represent the height of the Final Fantasy franchise. The fact that you can play it at all on iOS is incredible.
The touch controls work surprisingly well on this version. Turn-based, menu-based combat means you’re able to control your party easily, and exploring the relatively small environments with touch controls is likewise a breeze.
Another Eden was built from the ground up to run on mobile. It may not look like much, with its simplistic sprites and background art, but what it lacks in visuals, it makes up for with its story, characters, and combat.
You play as Aldo on his quest to save his sister from the Beast King, who uses the dormant power in her to wipe out humanity to leave Earth for demons. Doing so, Aldo is thrust 800 years into the future, where humanity barely survives. It’s a story very reminiscent of Samurai Jack, with makes this game worth playing on its own.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is a modern take on a tactical RPG that features a heavy emphasis on player choice. In between battles, the game plays like a choose your own adventure story, following your choices as you guide your Viking tribe through war, famine, and near death.
The name of the game here is story and immersion. The Banner Saga intentionally avoids typical RPG conventions like looting, buying, and selling, and the game even prevents you from loading a save if you’re beaten in battle. All of this is in an effort to immerse you in the story of your tribe as a whole, rather than a single individual. Spanning three games, The Banner Saga series is grossly underrated, and the first game is a great place to start.
Another all-time classic, Chrono Trigger is a whirlwind that set the foundation for what the JRPG would one day become. Featuring gorgeous art and what was then a revolutionary “active time battle” combat mechanic, Chrono Trigger is not only a piece of gaming history, it’s still a great game.
The iOS version of Chrono Trigger is also a port from the DS version, which included some new features like improved art and some extra dungeons and areas to explore. There were some controversial tweaks to some of the dialog, but nothing that takes away from the amazing experience of this game.
One of the most profitable mobile games ever, Fate/Grand Order was produced by Sony (yet PlayStation has nothing to do with it) based on the Fate/Stay Night visual novel series that originated in 2004. Like other mobile RPGs, the game is based on traditional turn-based combat and pulling gacha rolls to get new characters and weapons.
What makes Fate/Grand Order stand out from other games on this list is that rather than playing a central protagonist or even controlling a party, you instead play the role of a “Master,” and must guide an entire group of adventurers – knights, magicians, mages, etc. – and who you take into battle and adventures is up to you.
Darkest Dungeon has a reputation for being a brutally difficult game, and rightfully so. A roguelike with permanent death for your characters, Darkest Dungeon is in many ways the perfect game for mobile. It allows you to quickly jump to set up a party and head straight into a dungeon to perform some turn-based combat.
This game is all about positioning. Taking place in 2D, battles happen in a line of your party and your enemies. Who is positioned where will partially determine their stats, including their chances to hit or get hit with sickness or injury.
Based on the Forgotten Realms campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, Neverwinter Nights is another example of a classic RPG making its way to the iOS, with surprisingly good results. This version of the game is the Enhanced Edition, which comes with improved graphics and a host of free DLC included.
Being set in the D&D universe, the plot of Neverwinter Nights is deep – perhaps a little too deep for first-time players. But with a 100-hour long campaign and an emphasis on vast player choice that has serious repercussions, it’s worth giving the game a shot, even if you aren’t into the fantasy setting.
Chroma Squad is a criminally underrated tactical RPG where you manage a TV studio making a Power Rangers-esque show. Part of the gameplay is managing the studio – setting schedules, buying equipment – but the majority of the game is the humorous story and set-piece battles.
Despite its looks and silly premise, Chroma Squad has a deep but simple battle system that’s perfect for iOS. You take a team of four (later five) of your Power Rangers out into the field, customize their abilities and weapons, and have free reign to use them however you like, with a wide range of abilities and teamwork attacks. And yes, there is even giant robot versus monster fights.
Vampire’s Fall: Origins
Vampire’s Fall: Origins is a fascinating blend of RPG mechanics and styles. In the overworld, you can freely move around using an overhead, but combat plays out in a 2D plane which is turn-based, similar to Darkest Dungeon. With the local town threatened by an evil magician, you join the militia to defend your homeland, but as the title suggests, fate has other plans for you.
Like many games on this list, Vampire’s Fall is all about player choice and freedom. You can choose your looks, your class, and your moralities. For a game originally designed specifically for mobile, there is a lot of depth in its gameplay. This might be one of the most ambitious iOS games ever made.