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The best RPGs for Android: fantasy for your phone

Update: new games added!
The best RPGs for Android: fantasy for your phone

Role playing games, or RPGs, give you the chance to fully immerse yourself in the fantasy world of your choice. You can spend hours developing the stats of your character, crawling dungeons, exploring planets or sailing the high seas as a pirate. While there are countless RPGs on Android, finding out which ones are really worth your time isn't an easy task. Don't worry though - we're doing the hard work for you with this detailed list of the best RPG games for Android available today.

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The Quest

If you're old enough to remember the early Elder Scrolls games such as Daggerfall, The Quest from Redshift games will bring back some pleasant memories. It's an old school first person open-world RPG with hand drawn graphics and a great story, despite the unimaginative title.

The best thing about the The Quest is the player's autonomy. The game doesn't hold your hand and you're free to explore the vast, vast fantasy world and basically do what you want. You're not forced to do quests in a particular order, and the decisions you make as a player can lead to many different story developments and changing relationships with NPCs.

As for your player character, there's a choice of race (unique to the game world, no elf or dwarf for you this time) and class, both of which give you bonuses to certain skills, but the game lets you develop as you see fit, so you can push your character in the direction you feel like during your playthrough, which is helpful if you change your mind or, say, want to combine magic and heavy armor use.

To go on this quest, you'll have to pay eight bucks, but you'll get many hours of gameplay in return, with no annoying ads. And if that's not enough for you, there are five expansions with new quests and areas to add on.

  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $7.99

Star Traders Frontiers

The Trese Brothers are already known for bringing exceptional indie games that play well on both mobile and PC. Star Traders Frontiers is the latest from them to make the hyperspace jump from Steam to the Play Store, while keeping the high level of quality we expect from the devs.

Star Traders Frontiers is an open world (open galaxy?) sci-fi roleplaying game in the same universe as previous Star Traders and Templar Battleforce games. You play as a starship captain, but, after that, your fate is really in your hands. While far from being the most graphically impressive RPG, it more than makes up for that in depth and the sheer wealth of options. You can customize your captain, ship, and crew, and what kind of game you want to play.

For example, you can follow the main storyline, strike out into uncharted space as an explorer, participate in faction warfare or establish interstellar trade routes. Strategy fans will appreciate the mix of ship-to-ship combat using your different weapons and upgrades, and party-based crew battles where your pick of different classes and equipment for your underlings comes into play.

Get it on the Play Store

  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $6.99 

Exiled Kingdoms

Exiled Kingdoms is an isometric RPG that lets you freely roam through its fantasy world, which, while limited to 30 areas in the free version, expands to over 130 areas with a one-time $3.99 in app purchase. And if you find yourself liking the demo, it's more than worth it for such a large amount of content.

There aren't tons of character classes, but enough customization is possible for you to get the most out of the classic archetypes.  Warrior and Rogue options are included in the free version, and the paid one includes the magic using classes, Mage and Cleric. 

Though the focus is on action, there are plenty of story choices to make involving NPCs and important decisions, as well as secrets to find. The game doesn't hold your hand, and while many modern mobile RPGs focus more on grinding than story and exploration, Exiled Kingdoms still receives regular updates and has around 120 hours of content right now, keeping its place as one of the all-time greatest games on mobile platforms.

  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: Free version, $3.99 for full version

Vampire's Fall: Origins

Vampire's Fall: Origins is a free indie RPG with a really old-school feel to it. A free-roaming world with a top-down isometric view reminiscent of classics like Diablo and Baldur's Gate, you are - yes! - a callow youth who takes up arms to save your village as it becomes threatened by a rising evil.

To stop this evil, you'll wander the world, get quests from NPCs with big ol' exclamation points over their heads, and battle monsters for treasure and experience to improve your equipment and character skills. It sounds cliché, but Early Morning Studios clearly love the genre and play all the classic tropes well.

If, like me, you enjoy this kind of classic RPG, Vampire's Fall: Origins is a welcome addition to the Play Store and a refreshing antidote to all the glossy gacha games that seem more interested in extracting money than story or world-building. The game is also playable offline (but there's a multiplayer PvP element for online play, too).

Get it on the Play Store

  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

Old School RuneScape

Old School RuneScape has been officially released on the Play Store to everyone as a free-to-play game. The free version imposes some limitations on the player, but there's more than enough free content for you to decide whether you want pay a subscription to join in the legendary MMORPG. Membership costs $10.99 a month, and thanks to cross-play, that gives you access to the game on PC and iOS, too.

Old School Runescape, as the name suggests, is based upon the PC game Runescape of the early 2000s, right down to the rather dated-looking graphics and interface. But don't let that put you off trying. Old School Runescape has been enjoyed by over 260 million players over the course of its 17-year history and is continuously being tweaked by developers who listen to their devoted community. There's a reason why it's stayed so popular. 

Runescape is a fantastic sandbox RPG that really lets you live in the open world, exploring the vast lands of Glienor alone or with friends, facing down monsters, learning skills and completing hundreds of quests. There's another perk to it being old-school: anyone frustrated with current IAP-laden, grind-heavy popular mobile MMORPGs will find Old School Runescape's economic model refreshing, and its design philosophy rewarding. If you can look past the visuals, it's got a whole lot of heart.

  • Compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: Free, subscription optional

Get it on the Play Store

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2

Shin Megami Tensei Liberation Dx2 sees the cult Japanese RPG franchise come to mobile devices, but rather than a port, this title is developed natively for smartphones, and rather self-aware about it. You take on the role of a Devil Downloader, or Dx2, who has the ability to use their smartphone to see and control demons and spirits, and must use these demons, Pokemon-style, to battle rivals Dx2s in a shadow war between the Liberators (good guys) and the Acolytes (bad guys).

From the music to the character outfits to fourth-wall-breaking, Shin Megami Tensei Dx2 Liberation is self-consciously stylish to the point of parody sometimes, but often pulls it off with flair. The story is a simple good-vs-evil affair where you complete regular missions for rewards, but the goofy-yet-endearing cast of characters that make up the Liberators kept things entertaining in between battles, even if NPC interaction is pretty shallow compared to the other Shin Megami Tensei titles on PC.

It's not just your teammates you get to chat to either. The 'demons' (actually almost any kind of being from world mythology, including deities, fairies, and monsters) can be spoken to at random points during battle, and you can negotiate with them, charming them with words and offering gifts to win them over to your side. 

Through negotiations and summoning, you'll amass quite a collection of demons, which you can then fuse together to create even more powerful ones. This gotta catch 'em all aspect is appealing to completionists, but of course, since this is a free to play game, you can make in-app purchases for instant access to the resources you need to summon more powerful demons more quickly without completing missions.

Get it on the Play Store

  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

Sdorica

Rayark has given us some high-quality premium-paid mobile games like Implosion: Never Lose Hope and the Ctyus games, and Sdorica is the studio's take on that ubiquitous but much-maligned concept, the free-to-play mobile RPG. Thankfully, Sdordica avoids the worst practices of the genre, and stands out for its charming design and well-crafted mechanics.

The first thing you notice about Sdorica is its distinctive colorful drawn visual style. It's not going for grim n'gritty (n' often gray) but it's not as extravagant as other anime-style titles. Lavish cutscenes serve to flesh out the story and bring the world to life. Even though it's not really my style, Sdorica still managed to draw me into its cute fantasy. This is helped along by some excellent voice talent, which tease more character out of the paperdoll protagonists. 

The storyline is essentially told through episodes of conversation in between battles, which is the bulk of the gameplay and another way in which Sdorica stands out. Combat is basically a turn-based puzzle mini-game. The two sides line up and face each other, and the player matches colored orbs with their finger to trigger different attacks, spells and abilities. 

So how does this free game make its money? Well, although it's possible to play through the game's story missions with the characters you get for free, unlocking extra characters (and costumes) is done through a 'gacha' or random reward system. So you spend your in-game earnings and get a randomly selected character...which may not be the one you were hoping for.

  • Compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: Free with in-app purchases

Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth

My heart leaped up when Valkyrie Profile, a classic from the golden age of JRPGs, hit the Play Store. The mobile port of Valkyrie Profile is based on the PSP version, with a few modernizations such as sharper graphics and the ability to save freely anywhere in the story. In-app purchases have been added, which seems cheeky, but don't worry: you buy the complete game, but the IAPs are basically just cheats such as double XP.

The game can be played with touch controls, virtual buttons or an external controller. Because the game has a fair amount of side-scrolling platformer-style movement (the origin of the name 'profile', as in facing sideways), precise jumps can be awkward but most of the time the controls have been well-implemented.

Valkyrie Profile is a cult hit largely thanks to a combination of unconventional story and mechanics. The narrative is based on Norse mythology. You play as the titular valkyrie, Lenneth. Your mission? Help prepare for Ragnarok by gathering powerful souls to become Einherjar, the warriors of the afterlife. To do so, you need to find them on Midgard and train them before sending them up to Valhalla to join the final battle.

The game's story is genuinely great, with multiple endings depending on your choices: who you send to Valhalla and when. It's a tough balancing act to consider whether to keep a useful new warrior in your party to help you advance through the game, or send them to Valhalla as per your stated mission. Different choices lead to different narrative results, adding plenty of replayability to this RPG.

Get it on the Play Store

  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: $18

Darkness Rises

Playing Darkness Rises really made me think about what constitutes an RPG exactly. One of the top role-playing games on the Play Store as soon as it came out, Darkness Rises has a medieval fantasy setting, stats, levels, character customization...but, to my mind, little in the way of roleplaying. You don't make real decisions in the story and the levels are basically linear tracks punctuated by mobs of enemies. The upside? It's really, really good-looking.

The main selling point of Darkness Rises is the character customization 'beauty' settings, which give you fine-point control over your characters with sliders for specific details including brow height, cheekbones, wait and hips, limb length, and so on to create your perfect avatar. On top of that, throw endless variations of extravagant armor, weapons and accessories into the mix, so you'll always find new ways to make your heroes even prettier or more badass.

There are four archetypal classes, to choose from: warrior, sorceress, assassin and barbarian, and the game encourages you to have all four on the go. The classes play differently enough and also have different looks (and are gender-locked) . Be warned...only your first character can have their 'beauty' customized for free (and only once)...after the first time, it costs in-game resources.

The actual missions and adventures consist of beating up wave after wave of baddies with plenty of special moves and abilities at your disposal including slo-mo finishing moves. Again, the focus is on looking cool and flashy.  At times, you can control large monsters such as fire-breathing wyverns and trolls and rampage through hordes of enemies with them.

All in all, Darkness Rises serves up plenty of cool-looking fantasy set-piece battles, but fans of story and (non-cosmetic) choices will want to look elsewhere. Otherwise, this fantasy eye-candy is free-to-play, but there are a ton of in-game resources (and corresponding IAPs). If you don't want to pay cash. Even the coolest-looking battles can start to look stale as you grind them over and over again for gold and xp.

Get it on the Play Store

  • Compatibility: Android 4.4 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases 

Baldur's Gate II Enhanced Edition

This is one of the greatest RPG sagas ever to exist on the PC, and it's right at home on touchscreen devices, with graphical and convenience enhancements and new content courtesy of Beamdog. Create your hero, escape from the clutches of the evil wizard Irenicus, recruit from a pool of memorable companions and then wander across a vast world in search of revenge and adventure.

Baldur's Gate II is the most faithful representation of AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) rules on electronic devices, so it's not for the faint-hearted. That said, it's definitely the richest role-playing experience you can get on Android.

Players looking to play the hero's journey from a puny level 1 nobody to near demigod levels of power should also picking up Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, the first game in the series. While not quite as well-designed as the sequel, they combine to create a uniquely epic experience. For the complete package, there's also the newer 'interquel' Siege of Dragonspear, that bridges the story between the two original games.

  • App compatibility: Android 3.0  and up
  • Price: $9.99

Demon's Rise 2

This RPG from Wave Light games distinguishes itself in theme - rather than placing you in the role of heroes, it has you play the bad guys in the army of a dark lord hell-bent on conquest of a fantasy world. The campaign here is essentially a series of battlefields, making it as much a strategy game as RPG. Your warband of warlocks, champions of darkness, demon summoners, monstrous warriors will gain experience and equipment to help them better take on the challenges ahead.

If you enjoy turn-based tactic RPGs, Demon's Rise 2 is one of the best available for mobile devices that doesn't rely on pay-to-win mechanics. Your own skill is what will determine success. With attractive graphics and plenty of content (around 30 hours!) to get through, it's still a solid choice on the Play Store even after several years.

Wave Light games specialize in this kind of deep tactical RPG, and the original Demon's Rise has benefited from many updates that put it on par with the sequel (except that you play more traditional fantasy 'good guys'). 

  • App compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $5.99

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic

Affectionately known as KOTOR, this classic title isn't just the best Star Wars RPG on Android, but in my humble opinion, the best mobile Star Wars game of any genre, hands down. The storyline, set millennia before Star Wars: A New Hope, has your hero embroiled in a galactic conflict (like some kind of war...in the stars?) between the republic and evil Sith empire.

As fitting for a Star Wars story, the player's relationship with the light and dark sides of the Force play a central role, and you're free to be as noble or villainous as you wish, with an eye on snagging all those cool Jedi abilities you want. The combat mechanics are dice-based but the integration is smooth and the game controls are well implemented on the touchscreen. 15 years after it's release, KOTOR still holds up as one of the best RPGs you can play on your mobile device today.

  • App compatibility: Android 4.1  and up
  • Price: $4.99

Tempest

While most RPGs are often situated in medieval fantasy worlds, Tempest stands out as an individual for being set in the pirate realm. You'll fight against other pirates on the high seas, fulfilling quests and earning better ships with more skilled crews.

The controls for this open world game are quite complex when you start out, but you can easily master these after a few minutes of actual gameplay. The difficulty level is quite high at the moment, which doesn't help when it comes to earning money - which you'll need in order to improve your equipment and solve harder missions. You'll be more than compensated for this by this RPG's fantastic graphics and long playability. 

  • Compatibility: Android 5.0 and up
  • Price: $7.99

Knights of Pen and Paper 2

Knights of Pen and Paper 2 combines real world "role playing" with the virtual one. The game focuses on a group of RPG fans who have gathered to play a game similar to Dungeons & Dragons. When you play this free-to-play game, you'll always see the group's actions, as well as those of the Dungeon Master. This interesting game play mechanic gives the game a charming old school atmosphere, which is underlined the now rather common retro pixel look.

  • App version: 2.6.09
  • Compatibility: Android 4.0.3 and up
  • Price: Free, in-app purchases

The Banner Saga

The old school role playing game The Banner Saga doesn't just have an exciting storyline which forces you to make difficult decisions, it also has a challenging turn-based fighting system. Other plus points are the solid graphics and the great soundtrack, which does a good job complementing the atmosphere of the game.

The Banner Saga's engrossing tale of gritty survival, conflict and hope will always give it a special place in my heart, and fans who complete the game would be well advised to also try the sequel, Banner Saga 2.

  • Compatibility: Android 4.1 and up
  • Price: $9.99

Feel like we've missed out on an RPG? Let us know your suggestions below in the comments!

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