Featuring tactical gameplay, compelling storylines, and memorable characters, turn-based RPGs were once a staple of the video game industry.
While action-based roleplaying games have somewhat replaced turn-based RPGs in recent years, this beloved genre is making a big comeback.
If you miss immersing yourself in fantastical worlds filled with magic, mystery, and adventure, here’s a list of what we consider to be the best turn-based RPGs of all time.
Earthbound or Mother 2
Released in 1994, Earthbound or Mother 2 was a classic SNES game that generated quite a cult following. Despite its relative obscurity upon its initial release, Earthbound ended up having a massive influence, particularly in the indie gaming community.
The main story for the sequel revolves around Ness, a boy who finds a time-traveling bee from the future. And thus follows a complicated and long journey to finding the melodies needed to take Giygas down and save the world with Ness’s friends. Different realms introduce the player to a whole host of whimsical characters such as enemies that are household objects.
Unfortunately, this sequel wasn’t as story-driven as compared to the first installment. Despite that, Mother 2’s combination of classic RPG gameplay, off-the-wall humor, and creativity make the game a must-play for any fan of the genre.
When Undertale was released by an indie developer in 2015, no one knew that it would flip the entire genre on its head and become culturally iconic.
The game follows a human who has fallen into the Underground, a world beneath the surface of the Earth where monsters have been trapped for centuries. Our goal is to navigate through this fascinating world as we encounter memorable characters and make friends with monsters along the way.
Apart from delivering witty dialogue and engaging puzzles, Undertale manages to break the mold with its unexpected combat system that allows players to spare enemies. Each move you make during a combat sequence ends up with the player engaging in a mini-game that determines their success.
The game’s story branches depending on the player’s choices, leading to multiple different endings that offer a truly personalized experience. In short, Undertale plays with you more than you play the game; it gets in your head and keeps you hooked!
Divinity 2: Original Sin
With a masterful soundtrack, talented voice actors, and impeccable art, you can’t possibly go wrong with a combo like this. Divinity 2: Original Sin manages to utilize fantastic worldbuilding and a diverse cast of well-written characters to immerse players in a realm filled with magic and mystery.
With deep and complex gameplay, including a comprehensive crafting system, intricate dialogues, and dynamic environments, it’s impossible to finish this game without becoming an expert in the universe’s lore.
One of the standout features of Original Sin is its co-op mode, which allows two players to play the game together as one of the two main characters. The turn-based combat system isn’t too shabby either. With a steep learning curve, getting good at the game is quite rewarding.
It’s all in the details and Larian Studios didn’t cut any corners. There’s a reason why the game is critically acclaimed and revered to this day!
Final Fantasy 9
With so many twists and console-pushing graphics, this entry of the Final Fantasy franchise is probably one of the most iconic video games of the last decade. This turn-based RPG offers an experience akin to a high-quality visual novel.
The goal is to save princess Garnett while navigating through a minefield of complicated geopolitics. The worldbuilding is captivating, the battle systems are complex and the visual cinematography is outstanding. Each character has a story to tell, quirks to discover, and charm that they exude relentlessly with meaningful dialogue.
This was the last game series in which creator Hiranobu Sakaguchi played a creative role with some influence over the final product. Under his direction, it earned its spot as one of Square Enix’s best titles.
With its charming cast of characters, epic story, and classic RPG gameplay, Final Fantasy 9 is a game that continues to captivate and delight players, even more than two decades after its initial release.
Considered to be one of the greats, Suikoden 2 greets its players with an engaging story and upgraded graphics that truly outshine its competitors and most other games on the PlayStation.
The game is set in a sprawling, fantastical world filled with political intrigue, magic, and war. The sequel takes place three years after the events of the first game and features an emphasis on building the atmosphere and showcasing stunning pixel art.
The unique blend of eye-catching 2D and 3D visuals during each combat scenario, the painstaking effort artists poured into the background and map layout, the well-balanced battle system, and the exceptional soundtrack make for an unforgettable gaming experience.
From the quirky humor of Earthbound to the deep and complex storylines of Suikoden 2 and Final Fantasy 9, the timeless games mentioned in this article are just a few of the best the genre has to offer.
Whether you’re an RPG veteran or just starting out, these turn-based games are sure to provide hours of entertainment with captivating storytelling, challenging gameplay, and stunning visuals.