One of the most popular sub-genres of RPG is the turn-based RPG style of games. Some of the biggest hits in the world are under this genre and they have a huge following. That too rightfully so, because not only do such games have a captivating strategy-based combat system but a gripping storyline as well. So we wanted to share this love by compiling a list of the 16 most favorite turn-based RPG games of all time.
Here are 16 of the best turn-based RPG games of all time:
) Final Fantasy 7
If numbers say anything, Final Fantasy 7, the original PS title is by far the most sold game by Square Enix. After selling millions of copies worldwide, it pioneered the turn-based RPG gaming system. In addition, it also has one of the most gripping storylines in the series.
Released back on 31st January of 1997 by Square in Japan, it was published worldwide by Sony Computer Entertainment. The game has a cult following amongst the Final Fantasy franchise fans.
The game was loved by fans so much that they were demanding a remake for years. Their prayers were finally answered in 2020 when the developers back at Square Enix released the remake of the game for the newer generation of consoles.
) Chrono Trigger
No best turn-based RPG game list is complete without the mention of Chrono Trigger. The game is literally one of the first in the genre and it made history with its release. Originally released on the SNES console back on March 11, 1995, by Square, the game is now ported on multiple platforms.
If you look at the cover art of the turn-based RPG game, you might feel like it’s related to the anime Dragon Ball Z. You wouldn’t be far-fetched in that idea because Akira Toriyama, the author of the Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z series is one of the main designers of the game.
The game is full of secrets and endings that one cannot discover in just a single playthrough. You will have to play the game multiple times in order to discover all the hidden secrets of the game! Chrono Trigger truly invented the genre of turn-based RPG in every sense and meaning.
) Pokemon Gold/Silver/Crystal
Even those who aren’t fans of the turn-based RPG genre have played Pokemon at least once in their lives or continue to do so. With so many titles under the franchise’s belt, the GameBoy Color Gold, Silver, and Crystal versions are said to be amongst the best.
Just like every other Pokemon game out there, the setting is similar – you need to win all the badges, challenge the elite four and catch all the pokemon’s in the region to truly call yourself the very best.
Released back on November 21, 1999, by Game Freak, the original two titles, Gold and Silver were remastered for the 3DS in the form of HeartGold and SoulSilver. The game features the Johto region, with its abundance of Pokemon.
) Octopath Traveller
The Octopath Traveller is a love letter to old-school retro-style turn-based RPG games. Made using modern gaming engines to improve the retro graphics, this game was well-received by turn-based RPG fans. The developers have termed the game to be HD-2D because of high definition two-dimensional graphics.
Developed by Square Enix Business Division, you can see the influence of older Square titles, like Chrono Trigger, in this game. Released back on July 13 of 2018 for the Nintendo Switch and a year for PC on June 7, 2019, Octopath Traveller has sold over 2.5 million copies so far.
As the name suggests, you have 8 characters with 8 unique stories to follow. To completely understand the storyline, which is extremely well written, you need to play all of these so that you can unlock the true ending of the game.
) Persona 5
People will argue that Persona 4 is the best title so far from the franchise, but the numbers say otherwise. Persona 5 really broke the internet when it was released, and people still love the title so much even though it was released back in 2016.
The game was developed by the famous Japanese studio Atlus and P Studio, it has garnered worldwide acclaim by critics and fans alike. Follow the adventures of the HighSchooler Joker to do part-time jobs, battle demons, polish skills, and create relations with party members.
The Persona franchise is part of the bigger Shin Megami Tensei universe, another famous RPG. But they are not actually related story-wise, so you don’t have to play one to enjoy the other.
) Dragon Quest 11
Another game under the Square Enix development, Dragon Quest 11 is part of the long-running Dragon Quest Franchise. Released initially on the Nintendo 3DS on July 29, 2017, and later on for other platforms, the game was an instant hit worldwide amongst the fans of the series.
The game carries on from the older titles, where you can fight monsters, explore the world and the storyline. The storyline was praised by critics and the gameplay as well.
The series also features a similar art style to that of the famous turn-based RPG game, Chrono Trigger due to Akira Toriyama, creator of Manga DragonBall and DragonBall Z, being a designer for both.
) Divinity: Original Sin 2
Sequel to the Divinity: Original Sin title, Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a huge commercial and critical success upon its release. The game storyline follows centuries after the prequel’s plot. It was released on 14th September 2017, for the PC, and in just two months sold over two million copies.
It is literally acclaimed as one of the best turn-based RPG games of all time by critics. The game has a very interesting storyline which can be called generic in which the protagonist gets dragged into saving the world. But the narrative of the story is so well told that it still was a huge success worldwide.
) Suikoden II
Suikoden II was developed by Konami, the famed development studio behind famous franchises like Metal Gear and Castlevania. It was released on December 17, 1998, exclusively for the Playstation, but a few years later in 2003, it was ported to PC as well.
The only reason it wasn’t well-received when it was released was due to it being overshadowed by Final Fantasy VII and having a different look. As in that era, most gaming studios were focusing on 3D graphics a lot. Meanwhile, Suikoden II used retro-style graphics which was against the norm of that time.
Suikoden II deploys unique gameplay mechanics: 3 different types of combat systems that keep the game interesting. It also has a very engrossing storyline and is directly related to the prequel Suikoden. Not to mention it was the first turn-based JRPG to introduce an auto-attack feature. And there are more than 108 characters out of which 40 are usable in combat. All in all, it’s considered to be one of the best turn-based RPGs of all time and a gem that you must try.
) Grandia 2
Grandia 2 is another turn-based RPG that has a cult following of its own. Though the original release back on August 3rd of 2000 was a huge hit, its later ports and the remaster failed to garner as much acclaim and popularity.
But the fact that the game got a remastered HD version in 2019 for PC and in 2020 for Nintendo Switch tells us about how much attention it has garnered.
The game was developed by Game Arts for the Sega Dreamcast console. Grandia 2’s storyline and the plot are full of twists and have all the elements to make it one of the best turn-based RPG games out there.
) Fallout 2
If you are a fan of the Fallout series, you must know that the game used to be a turn-based RPG before it switched to first-person. The Fallout 2 title, last of the genre, was able to garner such a cult following that the studios behind it were able to release multiple sequels later on.
Though the genre changed, the storyline remained similar and carried on the lore of the wasteland from the first Fallout title. Released in 1998, Fallout 2 has an extensive storyline, where the stat build of your player directly affects your decisions.
) Fire Emblem: Three Houses
It was hard to choose one title from the Fire Emblem franchise, but we chose Three Houses based on the numbers. It was the best-selling game of the franchise, but that does not mean the other titles are not worthy of being on the list. Most Fire Emblem titles are some of the best turn-based RPG games ever made.
Their characters like Ike and Marth have spawned a cult following, with them even being included in the Wii Super Smash Brawl as playable characters. But for the sake of variety, we chose just one that sold the most copies.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses was released on July 26, 2019, on Nintendo and it instantly became 1 of the best switch exclusive game out there. It has much more to offer than the previous titles, 4 storylines, new options, and much more.
) XCOM 2 and War of the Chosen
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was a brilliant sci-fi turn-based RPG that was a huge success. XCOM 2 continues the storyline 20-years after the events of the first title. The aliens seem to have won and XCOM, the agency that protects humanity from such threats is left only as resistance in some cities.
The game is a strategy and tactical turn-based RPG and introduces new elements into the fray. The War of the Chosen Expansion pack gives even more new options to the game, but the plot mostly remains the same, except for a few cutscenes.
It was released on February 5 of 2016 and developed by Firaxis Games. Critics have praised the difficulty of the game as well as the procedural map generation which was not present in the previous title.
) Valkyria Chronicles 7
Valkyria Chronicles is unique amongst the turn-based RPG games in which you not only control the actions of your characters directly but also deploy strategy using two different modes, action mode and command mode.
The game was developed by Sega and was released for PlayStation 3 on April 24, 2008, in Japan and was ported to PC in 2014. It features a setting like Europe during WW2 in which two factions are battling each other for supremacy.
The unique art design, gameplay mechanics, and storyline make Valkyria Chronicles an excellent turn-based RPG. Due to its popularity, it was later adapted to other media as well, like anime and manga.
) The Banner Saga
The Banner Saga is based on Viking Legends and uses a rather unique art style for the game. The gameplay itself is pretty similar to most turn-based RPGs, but the storyline punishes you for making the wrong choices and the repercussions are permanent.
The studio behind the game encourages people to stand by their decision by making sure that their outcomes cannot be changed..
Stoic Studio, made by former developers at BioWare, released The Banner Saga on January 14, 2014, after successful crowdfunding via Kickstarter. The game was so well received, the studio was, later on, able to release 2 sequels of it..
) South Park: The Stick of Truth
If you are a fan of the popular adult comedy series South Park, then this game will be a treat for you. South Park: The Stick of Truth game carries on the humor from the series and turns it into a turn-based RPG. It has a cult following and you will see fans still praising the game’s storyline.
The game was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and released on March 4 of 2014. The Stick of Truth has a cult following, and a person who is new to South Park and its humor might not appreciate it entirely. This is why it is ranked so low on our list.
) Darkest Dungeons
Darkest Dungeon is not for the weak of the heart, as the game might look simple, but in actuality, it is much more complex than most in the genre. Featuring a unique art direction, the game has such a huge roster of classes to choose from for exploring dungeons.
Released back on January 19 of 2016, Darkest Dungeon features procedurally generated dungeons and afflictions that handicap heroes or give them an advantage in certain situations. You have to manage the stress levels of the heroes as it rises while exploring each dungeon.
Once one of your heroes dies in the dungeon, they are dead for good so it can be a huge pain to manage. Not to mention you need to level up each hero class and every dungeon has unique enemies.