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The 18 best role-playing games for iPhone and iPad

The best iPhone and iPad role-playing games revealed

We continue our run-down of the best role-playing games for iPhone and iPad.

9. Puzzle Quest II

Like 10000000 this melds roleplaying with block-matching puzzle game, but somehow it feels like something entirely different. This is much more about the long-game and elaborate strategies as you embark upon a fantasy quest, while 10000000 is an instant fix of high-speed puzzle-action. Meaty and great-looking, it might be getting on a bit now but it's definitely an app store essential.

8. Cardinal Quest

There are far too many rubbishy games on the app store with 'quest' in the title, but don't let this lo-fi gem get lost in the noise. It's another Roguelike, and a defiantly retro-looking one at that, but it rips out anything that could be deemed wasting in favour of focusing utterly on the strategy necessary to survive multiple dungeon tiers packed with monsters who can wipe you out with frightening ease. Combat just requires moving into an enemy, any loot that's inferior to whatever you've already got is automatically sold, and its three playable classes offer wildly different playing experiences. Unfair, unforgiving and essential with it.

7. Chaos Rings II

From the Final Fantasy stable, this doesn't stray too far from the tropes of Japanese roleplaying games - endless cutscenes, childlike dialogue, sprawling plots, over the top sights and highly-tactical combat. It's not for everyone and its £13 price is scandalous, but if you're after a more full-fat, high-tech RPG than is generally available on the app store this is where to look.

Chaos Rings II

6. Swordigo

It's no looker, and would probably have been better-served by a faux-retro look than its strangely cheap-looking 3D, but Swordigo is a slick and cheerful roleplaying game that concentrates more on adventure than statistics. It's vaguely in the vein of the Legend of Zelda games, but a little more fast and furious, with some elegant touch-screen combat and rewarding exploration.5.

5. Legends of Yore

Another one of those games whose cheery retro appearance belies a faintly sadistic interior, Legends of Yore has all you need it to - quests, loot, stats, classes and oh-so-many monsters. It's all set within one huge overworld with dungeons below it, so you're able to explore and play it at your own pace. You will of course be near-instantly killed if you roam too far without being fat with loot and levels, but surviving what's clearly beyond your abilities is part of the point. Great stuff, and far more substantial than its art style suggests.

4. Bard's Tale

You'll either love it or you'll hate it. This is a tongue-in-cheek pastiche of old-school roleplaying games and fantasy worlds, which is certainly something that's ripe for a spot of mockery, but the over-the-top humour got a lot of folks' backs up - especially as it's a remake of a rather more revered ancient game.  Fortunately, a recent update meant that original game is now also included with this one, so you've got your choice of smiley face or po-face anyway.

Bard's Tale

3. Doom 2 RPG

Yep, you read it right - the classic shooter reimagined as a turn-based roleplaying game. It sounds absurd, but actually Doom's use of health packs, ammo and the hunt for bigger weapons to take down harder foes suits roleplaying down to the ground. Each shot you take becomes a matter of luck and dice-rolls rather than how quickly you can aim, and somehow that manages the same tension and adrenaline that its shooter predecessor offer. Yeah, it's a little gimmicky and the control system feels crude and lazy, but it gets away with it.

2. Avernum: Escape From The Pit HD

Probably the RPG with the most substance in this list, with the possible exception of Chaos Rings, this is a love letter to isometric, free-roaming 90s computer roleplaying games such as the revered Ultima series. If you've convinced yourself that iPhone RPGs are throwaway affairs that only last a few hours and involve only button-bashing, you really should play Avernum. 30-odd hours of play,  dozens of towns to explore,  even more quests, a branching storyline and complex roleplaying mechanics - this is one to settle down with for a couple of deeply-absorbed weeks, not to pass a bus journey.

1. Bastion

Brand new (at the time of writing) to the app store, this indie action-roleplaying game does a fantastic job of something most of the other games in this list barely bother with - story. As you explore a crumbling city in the sky, bashing monsters, upgrading your selection of melee and range weapons and trying not to fall off the edge into the endless void beyond, a gravel-voice narrator comments on what you're doing, why you're there and even what you've done wrong. As he's reactive to your actions, not to mention extremely quotable, Bastion ends up being a brilliantly atmospheric game, in a way you wouldn't expect from its zoomed-out, cutesy appearance. The controls take a bit of getting used to, and sadly it's iPad-only for now, but even so this is one of the strongest iOS games to date. See also: Bastion review


(Also check out our new piece: The 39 best ever first-person shooter games.)

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