With MMO‘s making the biggest fuss in the market every year, garnering most of the media attention, some of us are quick to forget the parent-genre that came first: the classic solo RPG. With millions of players logging in everyday games like Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert, Guild Wars 2, and World of Warcraft (still!), it comes as no surprise many look at the solo RPG as something… lonely. Singular. When in truth, the well-made solo RPG can be a ray of light into a genre dominated by re-skins of the same format — especially on the mobile platform where monetization is vastly different from the console.
While games like Elder Scrolls and WoW can charge upfront or subscription, the mobile MMO space is heavily infected by pay-to-win schemes driven by the mere nature of the platform itself. This is where solo RPGs can truly shine. Without wallet-warriors to worry about, even free-to-play solo RPGs can monetize in sensible ways that don’t alienate free players. That or premium solo RPGs offer full-scale console-quality games nowadays that can fit in your pocket. Indeed, there are numerous reasons to check out some of the better solo RPG’s on the store right now.
Developer: Exilium Games | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
AnimA is a crisp, clean solo RPG by Italian indie developer Exilium Games. Taking clear inspiration from the Diablo franchise that helped make the linear solo RPG what it is, AnimA has you, unsurprisingly, fighting hordes of demons and undead using a variety of skills. One thing that really sets AnimaA apart from other Diablo-like games on mobile is its smoothness of gameplay. Moving through the world, dispelling the evils scattered across the landscape, interacting with NPCs is seamless. A nice touch is the original Italian voiceovers.
Rather than dubbing to match the english subtitles, the music quality of the language adds an extra and unexpected charm that lends itself to its ecclesiastical, quasi-religious underpinnings. All in all, AnimA, while not the most novel in concept, executes perfectly on the fundamentals of the solo RPG and will leave few players disappointed.
Path of Adventure (text-based)
Developer: KeeWeed | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Path of Adventure is a text-based RPG that combines the feeling of a MUD with that of a choose-your-own-adventure storybook. Unlike many of the text-based RPGs lining the shelves of the Play Store and App Store, Path of Adventure has the feeling of intention throughout it. All of the text is clean, curated and grammatically correct and the interface is smooth and in-line with the fantasy theme. There are no passages of broken english accompanied by hastily procured, unlicensed fantasy art.
While text-based games are certainly well past their hey-day, RPG gamers who have never taken part of the text-based genre would do well to look to Path of Adventure first. Where many games can fall back on explosive visuals, text-based games are forced by their form to succeed or fail more on language and story than anything else. And the decent build quality of Path of Adventure makes it a great place to start. For players looking for a quality text based, fantasy RPG that hearkens back to the golden days of the now antiquated genre, look no further than Path of Adventure.
Developer: TipsWorks | Platform: iOS/Android (upcoming) | Price: $3.99
Pascal’s Wager is a solo RPG set in a dark medieval fantasy world full of monstrous creatures where you must do your best to survive the hack-and-slash-athon across numerous equally hellish landscapes. The game is intentionally reminiscent of games like Dark Souls, with incredibly challenging gameplay and an ever-present risk of death. The combat system in Pascal’s wager doesn’t take part in the hyper-saturated fireworks arms race that most RPGs are locked into nowadays. Combat in Pascal’s Wager is gritty, realistic, and goes out of its way to rain destruction down upon would-be button mashers.
The wholesome, console-level quality of the game is enhanced by the fact that it is a premium game, meaning once you’ve purchased the title you’re free to enjoy a complete, well-crafted game designed to provide players with as robust a gaming experience as it can, rather than an intricate roundabout way to get you to pull out your wallet every few seconds. And lower-end devices can rejoice too — despite the visual quality of the game, the developers have done an outstanding job optimizing the game for the whole spectrum of mobile devices.
Download Pascal’s Wager: iOS | Android (Coming soon)
Developer: Artifex Mundi | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Blade Bound is a hack-and-slash dungeon crawler RPG, similar to Dungeon Hunter, that comes with all the usual bells and whistles one has come to expect in today’s mobile gaming marketplace. Flashy visuals, big bosses, disproportionately immense swords — Blade Bound has it all. There’s some semblance of a story — something about being cast down to the mortal realm by some evil overlord — but that quickly falls to the wayside as you begin clearing floors of monsters with huge swings of your fantasy sword.
One thing that will divide players is how automated the “casual” combat system is. While not the full-blown infamous auto-play feature popular in a lot of eastern MMO’s, all one must do is hold the basic attack button to have your character leap from target to target within a pretty decent range and slay pretty much everything. Some will like that for its ability to smooth out gameplay and produce nice, flowing combat visuals — others will be less enthused by any sort of combat automation. Overall, Blade Bound is a pretty, standard-issue dungeon crawler that anyone done with Dungeon Hunter will enjoy.
Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross
Developer: Netmarble | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross is a direct tie-up to the anime franchise that had over a million pre-registrations coming into 2020. The game has since proven to be worth the hype, merging aspects of trading card games, hero collectors and turn-based RPGs into something completely new. The gacha elements of the game are relatively painless — a major accomplishment in and of itself — and allows you to collect many recognizable characters fans of the animated series.
The world of 7DS is open for you to explore, as well as incredible cut-scenes from the anime itself to set up the story for those completely new to the franchise. The brand new combat system that uses elements of chance and skill is thoughtful and makes for addictive gameplay with stellar visuals. Anyone looking for something never-seen-before in the age-old RPG genre will be ecstatic with what they find in Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross.
Dragon Ball Legends
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
For anyone who sank hundreds of hours of their childhood into the Tenkaichi Budokai series, Dragon Ball Legends fills the dragon ball-sized hole in your heart we both know still exists. With all of the classic DBZ characters and the signature moves we imitated as children available to engage in planet-shattering interspecies MMA matches, Dragon Ball Legends mixes the Street Fighter-esque Budokai template with RPG elements that make for a fun way to continue exploring the Dragon Ball universe.
One of the game’s highlights is the introduction of an amnesiac named Shallot — a novel character apparently created by the legendary creator of the series Akira Toriyama himself. The characteristic visual style of the series has ported well to mobile, even if the screen is a little cramped, and learn more about a new avenue into DBZ lore. A must have for any fan of the series.
Dungeon Hunter 5
Developer: Gameloft | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: Free
Dungeon Hunter 5 was the last installment of Gameloft’s long-running and wildly successful Dungeon Hunter franchise. Like any other hack-and-slash dungeon crawler, you’ll progressively clear floors of enemies using bombastic, real-time combat moves in incredibly fancy, somewhat impractical-looking armor. What makes the Dungeon Hunter series continue to dominate the genre boils down to mere production value — the core mechanics are the same, but the graphics are much better than most others of its lookalikes.
While there is a solo campaign mode at the center of the game, Dungeon Hunter 5 features asynchronous multiplayer in the form of Strongholds. Build your own base, raid other players and destroy their fancy things with your fancy skills. Or, if you’re feeling more cooperative, join a guild. Or, again, skip all of that and just go it solo.
Developer: Blizzard Entertainment | Platform: iOS/Android | Price: TBA
Diablo Immortal has been a center of controversy within the Diablo playerbase, with gamers divided over its place in the franchise. When the game was announced at Blizzcon 2018, many longtime fans who’d been expecting a new title for the PC and console were annoyed to hear that the next major release would be a mobile game, and would be considered part of the Diablo canon. Add the fact that the game still doesn’t have an official release date two years later and… well. Like we said, Diablo Immortal is no stranger to controversy.
That said, gamers should be excited for the day Diablo Immortal does finally drop on Play/App store. The game takes what we know and love about hack-and-slash dungeon crawlers and adds the genius of Blizzard to it. It appears Diablo Immortal sheds the “casual” semi-automated controls that turn off some gamers and opens up the possibility of combined skill-effects from different playable heroes — creating a new layer of complexity for a genre badly in need of it.
Not a fan of going the path of the lone wolf when it comes to RPGs? Feel like we’re missing any of the better RPGs out there? Let us know!