10 Turn-Based RPGs That Are Hidden Gems

It isn’t always easy to find great turn-based RPGs, especially if you’ve already played through highly recommended titles like Dragon Quest XI and Persona 5. Sure, those titles can keep you busy for 100 hours or more, but you can’t play them forever.

If you’re searching for a game that with solid turn-based gameplay, and you’re struggling to find a good option, you may want to look off the beaten path. From spiritual successors to classics to games that are a little more unusual, these underrated turn-based RPGs are all hidden gems.

The Alliance Alive HD

Originally released on the 3DS, The Alliance Alive HD is a fantasy RPG set in a world where the villains have already won. The world has been ruled by daemons for over a millennium, and now, a band of heroes seeks to turn the tide.

The turn-based combat is simple, but has some real tactical depth to it. Character placement is crucial, and even battles with standard enemies can be challenging. The game also includes quality-of-life features like fast-forward and auto-battle.

The Alliance Alive HD is available on PC, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch.

Cosmic Star Heroine

Inspired by the sci-fi RPGs of the 1990s, Cosmic Star Heroine mixes old-school charm with more modern gameplay mechanics. The combat system is clearly inspired by Chrono Trigger, but there are also features here that feel unique. The game rewards you for experimenting and using different attacks and skills.

Cosmic Star Heroine is on the shorter side, which means it isn’t the best option if you’re searching for a game you can get lost in. However, if you don’t have a lot of time to game, the short runtime — and the easy platinum — might make this worth picking up.

Cosmic Star Heroine is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Based on a comic book series from the late 1990s, Battle Chasers: Nightwar mixes fantasy tropes with a steampunk aesthetic. The game uses a three-character party and has six characters in total.

This is a grind-heavy RPG that involves a lot of dungeon crawling. Dungeons are randomly generated and include all kinds of traps, puzzles, and loot. If you’ve ever wanted to play Diablo with turn-based combat, Battle Chasers might be the game for you.

Battle Chasers is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It’s currently in the Game Pass Library.

Chroma Squad

If you’re a fan of tactical turn-based combat, and you also enjoy management games, Chroma Squad is a title you won’t want to miss. The game revolves around five stunt people that decide to become the stars of their own Power Rangers-inspired TV show.

Since all of your battles are filmed, you can’t just look for the fastest way to win. You’ll also be given specific instructions from the director. For example, you might be asked to take out four enemies in a single turn. It’s an extra challenge that makes every fight a little more interesting.

Chroma Squad is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth

Even if you’re not a big fan of the Digimon series, Cyber Sleuth is a joy to play. It combines elements of Mega Man Battle Network, Shin Megami Tensei, and, of course, Pokémon to create an incredibly addictive and charming game.

As a cyber sleuth, you’ll spend a lot of time exploring dungeons and solving digital mysteries. You’ll also spend time fusing more powerful Digimon and raising Digimon on a farm. Best of all, if you pick up Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition, you’ll get two games for the price of one.

Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth: Complete Edition is available on PC and Nintendo Switch. You can buy the Cyber Sleuth games individually on PlayStation 4 and Vita.

Ikenfell

Set in a world of wizardry, Ikenfell features turn-based tactical battle system that’s reminiscent of the combat in Super Mario RPG and the Paper Mario games. Ikenfell offers plenty of challenge, but it’s also got charm to spare. (You save by petting cats!)

Many of the most beloved RPGs are known for their stories, and Ikenfell also delivers in that department. Ikenfell has a character-driven story that can be both lighthearted and emotional. The writing is great, and the soundtrack is even better.

Ikenfell is available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch. It’s currently in the Game Pass library.

Star Renegades

Star Renegades battle system

Star Renegades is a visually stunning rogue-lite RPG with strong tactical elements. Alien forces are invading your planet, and it’s up to your band of heroes to save the world. If you’re defeated in one dimension, you can start over in another. Unfortunately, your enemies won’t forget who you are.

If you love the combat in Grandia, you’ll probably also be a big fan of the turn-based battles in Star Renegades. This title can be pretty challenging (especially the boss fights), but you’ll make progress with every run. This title reminded me a lot of Into the Breach, so if you liked that game, you might want to pick this one up.

Star Renegades is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

EARTHLOCK

Developed by Norwegian studio Snowcastle Games, EARTHLOCK feels like a forgotten title from the PSOne era. It’s hard not to think about titles like Final Fantasy IX and Legend of the Dragoon when you’re exploring this fantasy world.

EARTHLOCK has solid turn-based combat that revolves around skills and stances, but it also has plenty of other features. The talent board system gives you a ton of control over your character’s abilities. When you’re sick of battling, you can use treasure maps to track down rare items, farm plants and herbs, and even make friends with kittens.

EARTHLOCK is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Lisa: The Painful

If you’re a fan of happy, uplifting stories, Lisa: The Painful is probably an RPG you’ll want to skip. The story is every bit as painful as described. If you like dark comedy and tough choices, however, Lisa delivers both those things in spades.

At first, the combat in Lisa might seem pretty basic. As you progress through the title and make more decisions, you’ll see that your choices have a massive impact on gameplay. Lisa can be miserable at times, but it’s unlike any other turn-based RPG you’ve ever played.

Lisa: The Painful is available on PC and Mac.

Aria Chronicle

Aria Chronicle was created to be a love letter to turn-based RPGs, especially classic dungeon crawlers. You play as a princess named Aria, who is accompanied on adventures by a team of heroes. You can customize heroes via a job system and talent tree.

This is a lighthearted, casual game that’s more relaxing than challenging. If you’re looking for an RPG that will test your skills, you should probably wait for the Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne remaster. If you just want to chill out for a while, though, Aria Chronicle will help you do just that.

Aria Chronicle is currently available on PC. It is scheduled to be released on Nintendo Switch in early 2021.

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