Get lost in the palm of your hand with these epic Android RPGs.
Most on-the-go gaming sessions are focused on simple, fast-paced play. But as tablets replace even at-home technology, we expect more lengthy, engrossing alternatives in addition to waiting room distractions.
Luckily, plenty of classic and original RPGs have found their way to Android, offering hundreds of hours of gameplay at a moment’s notice. Here are seven of the best worlds to get lost in on Android tablets.
Inspired by classic computer role-playing games such as Ultima, 9th Dawn was developed specifically for Android and iOS devices and only later ported to PC. The result is a surprisingly deep game filled with all the richness of a computer RPG—tons of items to discover, locations to uncover, and quests to embark upon—but wrapped in the simplicity of a touchscreen game. Battle is straightforward and direct with one-touch attacks that make even long-ranged encounters a joy to tackle. With dozens of hours of playtime even before you get to the free expansion pack, 9th Dawn easily stands up alongside many of the classics it seeks to emulate.
Like Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, Avernum: Escape from the Pit is a nearly direct port of a classic computer role-playing game. The one-man development team of Spiderweb Software created a number of shockingly deep PC PGs that hold up well today, including on touch screens. While strangely, only the first and last entries in the Avernum series are available on tablets, Escape From the Pit provides the perfect entry point for Spiderweb’s recognizable style of grandiose isometric worlds, significant NPC populations, tons of items and upgrades, and moral gray areas left only to the player’s conscience.
This is one of those niche darlings that will leave some players charmed and others completely baffled. Most comparable to the PC game Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, Adventure Bar Story combines a restaurant-running simulation with pure dungeon-crawling RPG excursions. The only way to improve your failing shop is by exploring the world, mauling monsters for their delicious innards, and then returning home to make dishes and weapons from the spoils. Improving the restaurant allows you to adventure even farther, creating an engaging cycle of playful sim and aggressive party-building.
The Ravensword games are the closest relatives to Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls series that we’re likely to see on tablets any time soon, alongside other options like Aralon and long-awaited newcomer, The Shadow Sun. Players adventure across an epic, open world through third- and first-person exploration, fighting trolls, giant spiders, and even dinosaurs as they progress. A completely free customization system allows your character to grow as you choose, and a town of NPCs in distress is never far away. While some players find the controls unsurprisingly finicky, Ravensword is still an optimal choice when you want some Skyrim on the go.
Replace this entry with any of the Zenonia series and you’ll still have a solid recommendation. Gamevil’s top-notch action-RPG series draws inspiration from classics of the 16-bit era while embracing the modern free-to-play system. Powerful items are available as in-app purchases, although the more recent have been criticized for increasing the difficulty more than necessary. Still, players who don’t mind grinding through tough spots can still enjoy the entire series, and its engaging gameplay, for a song.
Despite being one of the newer creations on this list, Doom & Destiny probably appears the most retro. Its RPG Maker graphics were chosen intentionally to resemble classic 16-bit era RPGs, which are only one butt of D&D’s many jokes. The entire game is both an homage to and jab at the role-playing genre, set in the modern day basement of a group of Dungeons & Dragons players. From NPCs who tell you to feel free to steal their stuff to shopkeepers who ponder why you, the great heroes, have to pay for equipment, RPG fans will find plenty of familiar and funny territory here, alongside solid gameplay and a deep battle system.
While nearly all of the entries in Square’s decades-long RPG series are worth playing, Final Fantasy VI stands out as not only one of the best Final Fantasy titles, but one of the greatest games ever created. Behind its deceptively colorful graphics lies a dark plot, a hefty cast of fleshed-out characters, an eerily malicious villain, and a story and world that are hauntingly engrossing. Its events are touching and personal but balanced by a playful lightness that have kept the game accessible for 20 years.