The holidays aren’t yet over, and that means you probably still have some time off on your hands. What better way to spend that time than with some engrossing, in-depth RPG gaming? Once upon a time, this category wasn’t very well represented on the iPhone(s aapl), but that’s changed, and now there’s a very healthy selection. The following are some of the best.
Infinity Blade ($5.99, Universal)
By now you’ve probably heard about this game, possibly from our own review of the title. It also got considerable pre-release hype, since it’s the first game on iOS devices to make use of Epic’s Unreal engine. Thanks to that engine, it looks fantastic, and is easily the prettiest game on the iPhone, even if you don’t have a fancy new Retina Display.
Even without its good looks, Infinity Blade would be hard to put down. It’s simple and repetitive, but it features an awesome loot and leveling system, and what’s a really good RPG besides that, at its core?
Gameloft makes a very good living taking formulas that have already worked for other studios and making them work again. The Dungeon Hunter series is a perfect example. They’re based on Blizzard’s Diablo franchise, but they have a far more frequent release schedule than those dungeon crawlers, and they work on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch.
I’ve played through both titles in this series multiple times. The sequel, which came out only a couple of weeks ago, was a much better experience overall, and a longer game, but both provide ample fun for the price. They lack the more refined elements of Diablo, like item customization and randomly generated dungeon maps, but they’ll more than satiate your RPG hunger.
Aralon: Sword and Shadow HD ($6.99, Universal)
This is a new title from the people who put together Ravensword for Chillingo (the icon should give it away). It’s sort of like the Elder Scrolls series of console and PC games, in that it’s an open-world, third-person, over-the-shoulder RPG with a lot of side quests.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Ravensword, but Aralon feels a lot more mature, and better put-together. It still comes off a bit amateurish in places, and has some bugs, but overall it’s a very fun RPG experience for the money. It’s a universal app, so one purchase gets you both iPhone and iPad gaming potential.
Solomon’s Keep (Free)
An oldie but a goody, Solomon’s Keep actually already has a sequel out in the App Store called Solomon’s Boneyard. The sequel’s great, too, but Keep provides plenty of entertainment with a unique cartoony art style, and best of all, it does so for free until Dec. 28.
This is yet another action RPG, with a dual-stick, shooter-inspired, controlled scheme that keeps things simple. It’s ideal for a casual platform like the iPhone in my opinion. But as I mentioned, it’s free, so I shouldn’t need to sell it very hard.
Eternal Legacy ($6.99)
Another Gameloft clone, Eternal Legacy has Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series squarely in its sights. It’s a nice change of pace from the rest of the games mentioned above, since it features a turn-based combat system featuring the queued attacks triggered by an action bar filling up, something which will be very familiar to fans of recent Final Fantasy games.
It doesn’t come close to Square’s titles when it comes to depth of story or character, but it does the job; you can carry it in your pocket; and it looks pretty good. Gameloft really needs to start thinking about making these games universal, since you’ll need to pay twice if you want it on your iPad and iPhone.
Chaos Rings ($5.99)
If you’d rather have the real thing, Square Enix’s Chaos Rings is its first RPG title designed specifically for the iPhone. This one’s been out for a while, but the experience still holds up. Right now it’s more than half-price, too, as an added bonus.
The only thing I didn’t like about this game was the length; I found it short, but you can play through as two sets of characters with different story outcomes, so that extends things a bit. But the game mechanics have the Square Enix polish gamers expect, and the story is more interesting than Gameloft’s carbon copies provide.
Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):