Mobile gaming has matured a lot in recent years. While casual titles like Angry Birds and Cut The Rope are still around, you also now have access to deep and rich role-playing games filled with hours of gameplay. This is especially true if you own an iPhone or iPad.
The gaming scene for Apple devices has always been strong, and in 2023, that point remains true. Whether you’re looking for a fantasy adventure, a rich sci-fi setting, or something in between, there are numerous RPGs for you to sink your teeth into. But which ones are the best RPGs for the iPhone and iPad? We’ve rounded up 16 of our favorites below — so let’s get right to it.
Fantasian is a huge JRPG that’s more about the vibe than the story, with almost 160 gorgeous, detailed handmade dioramas as the backdrop. Spearheaded by Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, the game will feel instantly familiar to JRPG fans, with turn-based combat, random battles, and simple character customization — but that’s a huge part of its appeal. With around 60 to 90 hours of gameplay, the first half of the game is more story-focused, as we meet our hero, Leo, who’s lost his memory and finds himself on a quest to save the world. The second half is more quest-driven, though you’ll undoubtedly spend most of your time exploring the handcrafted scenes from different angles and enjoying the original soundtrack by Nobuo Uematsu. If you’re a fan of JRPGs or a die-hard Final Fantasy addict, you can’t afford not to play Fantasian.
9th Dawn III
Into more traditional RPGs, or feeling nostalgic for the heady days of 90s gaming? 9th Dawn III may seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but for all the longstanding RPG fans out there, it’s a perfect adventure. Customize your character and embark on a dungeon-crawling adventure as you explore a massive open world, packed with over 270 monsters, more than 1,400 unique items to hoard, and an original card game with 180 cards to collect.
True, the mechanics seem a little dated, but when you’re adventuring through dark dungeons, crossing perilous swamps, leveling up your crafting, and unlocking new spells and abilities, you’ll be so engrossed, you won’t care. Customize your weapons and armor, go fishing, brush up your cooking skills, and help townsfolk with side quests ranging from serious to silly while you enjoy the original orchestral soundtrack. It’ll set you back $10, but that’s a small price to pay for this slice of nostalgia.
We were impressed by Diablo Immortal on our first playthrough. In fact, we’d say it’s better than Diablo — and we said it was “a PC or quality console release on a small screen” in our review. Bite-sized quests and activities make playing on the go a joy without sacrificing the full experience, including a deep endgame, a lengthy campaign, and full voice acting. Fans of the PC games will feel instantly at home, and the game never feels too repetitive.
Enjoy stunning maps from a top-down perspective, pick your class to suit your playstyle, slay mobs using your special skills, and collect a ton of loot. Gameplay-wise, we’d say it feels a lot like Diablo 3, though the fact you don’t need resources to use skills is different, with them instead operating on brief cooldowns, bringing more fast-paced combat to the fore. There’s a downside, and that’s those excessive microtransactions, which might make this a no-go for some players. Still, it’s worthwhile giving Diablo Immortal a go, particularly if you’re a fan of the existing franchise.
Another Eden harks back to the days of old-school JRPGs, though its gacha mechanics bog it down at times. With an expansive story from master story writer Masato Kato and an original soundtrack from composer Mitsuda Yasunori (both of Xenogears/Chronos series fame), this is a huge game that you’ll find yourself sinking loads of time into. Play as Aldo, living peacefully with your sister Feinne and adoptive grandfather. When Feinne is abducted by the Beast King, you must head out on a quest to save her, but you’ll find yourself drawn into an adventure spanning time and space. It’s possible to enjoy Another Eden without getting involved in the gacha element, but you’ll spend a lot of time grinding to strengthen your characters and advance the story — not a bad thing if that’s what you enjoy. Turn-based battles are pleasingly familiar to fans of the genre, you’ll meet a cast of likable characters along the way, and you’ll collect and spend Chronos Stones to level your characters. For fans of traditional JRPGs, Another Eden ticks a lot of boxes.
The SNES original is now on iOS! Developed by Yuki Horii (Dragon Quest), Akira Toriyama (Dragon Ball), and the creators of Final Fantasy, Chrono Trigger is one of the most epic role-playing games in the world, now with higher-resolution graphics and updated songs. You play as the young hero, Cronos, who sets off to rescue Marle, a girl who has been hurtled through a dimensional rift created by the Telepod, invented by Cronos’ friend, Lucca.
But you emerge four centuries earlier and must journey through different eras, from the past to the distant future and even the end of time, to rescue Marle. Along the way, you can explore the “Dimensional Vortex” and “Lost Sanctum” dungeons, battle monsters, and unleash special “Tech” moves with over 50 different combos.
Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
One of the greatest role-playing games of all time is available on mobile devices. Knights of the Old Republic came out in the golden age of Star Wars games, and it is still fondly remembered even today. You play as a nameless character who suffers from amnesia and is plagued by strange visions.
The player must uncover their past as they train to become a Jedi and fight for either the light or dark side of the force. BioWare developed the game, so you can expect a great story, branching narrative choices, and loads of great characters. It’s a classic game that’s still worth revisiting whether you’re playing it for the first or hundredth time.
The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is one of the best turn-based RPGs to come out in recent memory, and the iOS port is the perfect way to play it. The game is hand-drawn and uses rotoscope animation in the vein of Final Fantasy Tactics. The game also stands out thanks to its Norse setting, and it has a large and memorable cast of characters.
The player must take their caravan across the setting and survive a brutal winter, all while battling horrifying creatures and other Viking clans. It’s a great game with a proven formula and extraordinary animation. The Banner Saga won many awards when it came out for a reason, and it is still worth taking a look at.
If you want to take a break from combat and play something a little more relaxing and idyllic, then Stardew Valley is the perfect game for you. This game brings the Harvest Moon formula into the present, and players can build a farm, raise animals, make friends, and find a partner.
There are many secrets to unlock, dungeons to explore, and relationships to foster in this smash-hit indie title. The core gameplay is complemented by a soothing soundtrack, a great cast of characters, excellent writing, and exceptional artwork. It’s the perfect game to sit back and relax with, and the experience on iOS is all the better with controller support.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
Baldur’s Gate is widely considered one of the greatest RPGs of all time, and it’s the second entry for BioWare on this list. The enhanced edition is available on the App Store, and it’s one of the best ways to play the game. The interface has been redesigned for touch controls, and it feels like a more fluid way to the play game.
Plus, the Enhanced Edition comes with the original game and all of the DLC. There are also in-app purchases for additional quests, character portraits, and even voice sets. If you haven’t played Baldur’s Gate yet or want to revisit a timeless classic, playing it on iOS is the best way to do so.
Oceanhorn was a popular RPG when it launched on iOS, but the next game improves on the original concept in nearly every way. It’s actually a prequel that takes place thousands of years before the first game, so you don’t need to play the first one to enjoy this entry.
You play a young knight as he travels across the land of Gaia to defeat the Warlock Mesmeroth. The game is packed with puzzles, quests, and a main story that spans over 20 hours. It is also one of the prettiest iOS games available. Oceanhorn 2 alone makes an Apple Arcade subscription worth it.
Supergiant Games is one of the top dogs in the indie game development scene, and for good reason. Their games are highly polished, fun, and are packed with quality writing and characters. Transistor came out in 2015 and was shortly thereafter ported to iOS, and it is still one of the best action RPGs you can play. In the game, you play Red, a famous singer who comes into contact with the Transistor.
After which, you are relentlessly pursued by the Process — a deadly robot force that wants the Transistor at all costs. You must survive the relentless onslaught and discover why they want the Transistor. The game was redesigned for touch controls, but it also has MFi (Made For iPhone) support, so you can play the game the way it was initially designed to be played.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is worth mentioning just for its sheer audacity. Packing one of the largest JRPGs of all time onto a mobile platform sounds insane. And yet, that’s precisely what they did. Not only did Square Enix overhaul the graphics and gameplay for mobile, but it’s also pretty good. In fact, it’s really good.
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition has the exact same story as the console version. And while the gameplay loop is notably different, it packs in a surprising amount of the original experience. If you are curious about Final Fantasy XV but don’t have a console or PC to play it on, Pocket Edition is a perfectly viable way to experience it, and that’s a bizarre and awesome thing to say.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
One of the finest turn-based RPGs out there, Divinity: Original Sin 2 was finally ported to the mobile platform with much fanfare, and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, the iPad version plays better, but just make sure that you have a fairly recent (read: at least 2018) version of the Pro or the Air model to really feel the high-FPS action. The touch controls have been implemented really well, but you can also pair your console controller and PC peripherals. Plus, it supports cross-play with the Mac and Steam versions, too.
The visuals are stunning, the combat is solid, you are treated to a fantastic soundtrack, and the world-building is also impressive. There is plenty of dialogue, character-specific skills to keep things fresh, and a ton of strategy-making involved to keep you hooked for hours. Overall, this is one of the best iPad gaming experiences out there.
Monster Hunter Stories+
In Monster Hunter Stories+, you take on the role of a monster rider whose main objective is to find eggs and run away with them, wait until “monsties” hatch out, and then wait for them to grow before riding them into a battle. The premise of Monster Hunter Stories+ might sound familiar, and rightfully so, but this turn-based RPG is a delightful experience. At the center of the story are the Kinship Stone and the associated rite, but it’s really the deeply strategic nature of the attacks required against each enemy that makes it challenging.
It does take some time to strike the right balance of strengths, flaws, and elemental powers in your dragon line-up as well as the item load out to crush enemies. If you’ve been waiting to try the handheld version, you’ll be glad to know that the mobile port is identical. Thanks to eye-catching visuals, a slightly dark but immersive story, and loads of dragons make this Capcom game stand out.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Another mobile port of a well-received PC and console game, Battle Chasers: Nightwar is not the newest game on the list, but it still stands out with its quality gameplay. It’s actually a beautiful blend of retro elements with a modern mobile gaming twist. If you are a fan of cut scenes, this game will actually take you by surprise with its comic art-inspired looks that are interspersed over 25+ hours of a story-driven journey.
Once again, you have to fight your way across a sprawling battlefield with characters that each offer a unique skill such as healing, dash, and more. On top of it, there’s a dual-layer energy system that you really need to keep an eye on during combat, as they are fundamentally tied to your basic as well as special skills. Yes, there is a healthy bit of grind here, but the rewards that come as you pour more hours into the game make it worth it.
Diablo Immortal started as the butt of jokes in the gaming industry, but the game is actually one of the best of its kind on mobile platforms. But if you need a palate cleanser with similar vibes — but with a slightly toned-down sense of gore and impending doom — Eternium still stands the test of time. The tap and swipe-based touchscreen gestures are extremely well executed, and the exciting gameplay is complemented perfectly by an engaging story.
Just like Diablo, you get to choose between character classes like mage and hunter, among others, each with its own set of abilities. While the solo RPG element is fun in itself, the online co-op mode is great, too, and you won’t find yourself complaining about the loot system either. The gameplay is not particularly challenging, but it’s the strategy part where you need to curate the right balance of skills that really tests your ARPG creds. Overall, Eternium is a beautiful game that is rewarding through and through.
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