The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an ambitious open-world RPG sandbox that's remained quite popular since it was released in 2011 -- but while it's reached the Nintendo Switch, no other mobile platformmore
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is an ambitious open-world RPG sandbox that's remained quite popular since it was released in 2011 -- but while it's reached the Nintendo Switch, no other mobile platform has gotten Skyrim so far. So what is an Android gamer to do if they want a deep and immersive roleplaying game on their phone or tablet? We've singled out some of the best deep RPGs we can find on the Google Play Store, none of which use microtransactions or ads -- pay once, own it forever.
The Dragon Quest RPG series is very popular in Japan and may remind Western gamers of Final Fantasy. In both cases, the older 2D releases retain a lot of retro charm and feature colorful artwork, fleshed-out characters, and epic-length adventures. You may play Dragon Quest IV for a total of 30 hours before you get to the end, which was quite a feat when the game originally came out in 1990. The Android version is based on the updated PlayStation release, so all visual details are completely upgraded while retaining the same gameplay (however, it does not get the PlayStation's bonus 6th chapter).
And while there are nine games in the Dragon Quest series so far, you don't have to start from the beginning (in fact, most veterans recommend you start no earlier than DQ3). You can jump into DQ4 with no previous knowledge, and it's arguably the one best adapted to mobile devices because it's a series of five smaller adventures, rather than one big one.
Dragon Quest IV is $15 on Google Play, but you get the full experience of the PlayStation remaster, optimized for mobile devices.
Making a deep and immersive RPG that doesn't rely on microtransactions is a tough nut to crack, which is why Exiled Kingdoms is the only game on this list that was designed from the ground up for mobile devices. It's a popular 2D action-RPG that's as close as we've gotten so far to playing Diablo or Path of Exile on a mobile device. It's also huge; the developer claims 30 hours of playtime just for the free portion of the game, and about 90 more for the rest. The game rewards exploration, with dozens of quests and literally a novel's worth of dialog. Exiled Kingdoms doesn't have the premium production values of Candy Crush or Super Mario Run, but it makes up for it in overall value.
Exiled Kingdoms offers an expansive free demo, with the rest of the game available for $3.99.
Each Final Fantasy game features a separate group of characters, so you don't miss much story by picking one at random, but FF6 is generally considered the best mobile version of the earlier installments in the series. It looks and feels similar to contemporary Dragon Quest games, with its 2D pixel art, turn-base combat system, and vintage sound effects. But FF6 also features a villain with layers and an actual character arc; Kefka Palazzo's descent into chaotic nihilism feels surprisingly like an origin story for Heath Ledger's Joker in *The Dark Knight.*
Final Fantasy VI is $15.99 on the Google Play Store. It's a technically solid port, though the remastered art style (with contributions from Kazuko Shibuya, one of the original artists) has some detractors.
In the late '90s and early 2000's, Interplay published an amazingly good run of role-playing games, most of them developed by Black Isle Studios. If we had to pick just one, Planescape: Torment would come out at the top, but they're all worth checking out. In Torment, you play a man with amnesia, which isn't the freshest idea in the world. But the way in which you regain your memories, and what you uncover about yourself, are just a couple of the many things that elevate the game above most RPGs. You can also get up to your eyeballs in the lore of Planescape, which diverts exotically from core Dungeons & Dragons settings.
Android (and iOS) get the "Enhanced" version of Torment, which is basically a remaster with updated visuals and sound, and a host of bug fixes that were never addressed in the original desktop version; all of this was done in collaboration with its lead designer Chris Avellone.
Planescape: Torment is $9.99 on the Google Play Store and has all of the content of the desktop version, optimized for touch screens.
After Interplay closed its doors, its developers split off into separate but sometimes overlapping groups. One example is BioWare, which charged out of the gates with Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR); its lead writer Drew Karpyshyn also worked on Black Isle's Baldur's Gate series. KOTOR is arguably the best Star Wars RPG so far, though it's set in the Sith Empire era, thousands of years before the Star Wars movies, so it doesn't share any of the same characters or locations. That said, turning the Sith into an entire civilization instead of a small cluster of bad guys gives Star Wars fans new insight into the perspective of the ancient enemies of the Jedi.
Knight of the Old Republic is $9.99 on the Google Play Store, and it gets discounted regularly; it was $4.99 during our playtesting. The Android version has all the game content of the desktop version.