The developers of Ravensword clearly had one thing and one thing only in mind while crafting their game: put Elder Scrolls on the iPhone. The game is ambitious, with full 3D environments, hours of gameplay, and even an optional first-person camera perspective for those who enjoy their RPGs that way. Set in a high-fantasy world, Ravensword's main quest takes players across a good variety of environments on the path to the finish, and a number of combat options keep things fresh as players level up their customized character.
There are plenty of secret areas to explore after beating the main storyline, and fun distractions like horseback riding, hunting in the forest, and target practice with the bow and arrow should keep people distracted for a while. It should be noted that Ravensword does suffer from the iPhone's limited screen real estate, and the on-screen controls sometimes make it hard to see what one is doing. Those who actually own games like Elder Scrolls: Oblivion on consoles may want to stick with that, as Ravensword is held back by the limitations of its platform. Those who want 3D RPG gaming on the go, however, should give Ravensword a shot, as it is being consistently updated to improve its overall quality and provide an experience more in line with what's available on consoles.
7. Rogue Touch
Rogue Touch is a recreation of the classic dungeon crawler Rogue (which spurred the RPG subgenre roguelike), and it has undergone massive adaptation for its new touch control scheme. Despite being released in early 2009, Rogue Touch has easily held onto the title of "deepest roguelike game in the App Store." For those who are unfamiliar with the roguelike genre, the game plays out like a real time RPG wherein your goal is to reach the 26th floor of a dungeon to collect a magical amulet. You attack enemies by running straight into them with a tap in their direction, but make sure to watch your health bar. In roguelikes, a single death means a permanent end to your adventure.
Rogue Touch isn't the most modern example of its genre (there is no movement animation, for instance), but it does have a number of nice features that longtime fans of roguelikes will appreciate: on-screen buttons for resting and searching for traps come in handy often, and new items in this version of the game are quite the treat. Worthy of special note is the ambient background dungeon sounds that have been introduced in Rogue Touch. You'll want to play this one with your headphones on.
Sword & Poker sticks out like a sore thumb on this list of action RPGs and Roguelikes, but its classification as an RPG is undeniable despite its card game-heavy battle mechanics. Combat seems complicated at first, but is actually pretty intuitive and can be picked up relatively quickly if a few minutes are spent playing with things. Each enemy encounter takes place on a 5x5 grid, with nine cards filling the center of the grid from the start. You and an opponent take turns laying down two of the four cards in your hand with the goal of creating poker hands on the game board.
For instance, in the picture to the right, the player just scored big because he put down a queen and a joker, the latter of which acted as a "9" card to create a straight, which in turn dealt 22 points of damage to the enemy player. Money earned from battles can be used to purchase new and better weapons, and better weapons allow players to inflict more damage or even status effects on opponents. There's far too much depth and strategy in Sword & Poker to be discussed here, but take our word for it that this is the definition of a hidden gem in the App Store, and absolutely should not be missed.
Much like Rogue Touch, Sword of Fargoal is an update to an early roguelike game, this one originally created for the Commodore PET in 1980. Jeff McCord was only 17 when he wrote the game (entirely in BASIC, by the way), but he achieved real notoriety when the game was later brought to the Commodore 64. What makes Sword of Fargoal particularly interesting is how different the iPhone version is from the original release. Unlike Rogue Touch, Sword of Fargoal embraces modern graphical flourishes like walls with 3D depth and high-resolution sprites.
Much of Fargoal's gameplay involves hopping around a dark dungeon filling out your map, taking down enemies to level up, and finding spell scrolls to increase the power of your sword and get access to temporary abilities. After diving to the depths of the dungeon and grabbing the Sword of Fargoal, you'll have 2,000 seconds to make your way to the first floor and escape with your life, not an easy task given the fact that enemies will try to steal your sword and run off with it while their comrades attempt to murder you as you make your way to the top. Sword of Fargoal is the most noob-friendly "roguelike" game on the App Store, and we found it to be a lot of fun.
Zenonia is different from the other action RPGs on the App Store because of its ridiculously fast-paced nature. The game automatically turns the main character to face enemies if one is near when the player taps the attack button, so much of the game involves blasting through environments attacking every enemy that draws near to quickly level up and amass loot. There are three unique characters to choose from when starting a new game in Zenonia, and each one plays quite differently, so there's a good bit of incentive to play through with different characters multiple times.
Zenonia feels like a combination of Zelda and Diablo with its 16-bit art style and complex skill tree that can be filled out as enemies are defeated and levels are gained. There's a pretty annoying hunger system in the game that forces players to stop and feed their character at regular intervals, but for the most part Zenonia skips the trimmings and focuses directly on what's important: lots and lots of action. A good sense of humor in dialogue helps set the game further apart from other releases, so we can confidently recommend this game for those who love fast-paced action RPGs and don't mind a bit of grinding.
This story, "The iPhone's Best Role Playing Games: Action, Strategy, and Adventure" was originally published by GamePro.