12 of the best turn-based RPGs you should play from Square EnixLooking to flex your strategic muscles? There are plenty of turn-based RPGs from Square Enix, from new releases to returning classics. Take a look!
When you’re battling the forces of evil, it can be helpful to have time to think.
That’s why turn-based combat is so fun in RPGs. Having the space to consider your options and execute the perfect strategy is a thrill that never gets old… and something that many fans just can’t enough of!
There are plenty of turn-based options from Square Enix too, from traditional takes on the formula, to brand new ideas that make things fresh and exciting. Whether it’s all-new games, or returning classics, we thought it would be fun to showcase some of the most recent turn-based / command-based games we’ve released.
How many of these have you played?
OCTOPATH TRAVELER II
This acclaimed sprawling RPG features 8 new characters, each with their own unique stories and abilities. These consistently surprising tales run the gamut from dark, tragic crime dramas to upbeat tales about teaching the world to smile.
Each provides plenty of opportunity to experiment with the ‘Break and Boost’ battle system - a deeply strategic take on turn-based combat. It’s based on exploiting enemy weaknesses to remove their shield points, rendering them vulnerable to attack. To help with this, you earn boost points each turn, which you can spend to attack multiple times or strengthen a big hit.
Knowing when to save your points and when to spend them is key to success, leading to battles that are always engaging, whether you’re mashing monsters or butting heads with a boss.
Exploring the world is also full of possibility thanks to Path Actions, which let you interact with NPCs in different ways. Some characters can recruit townsfolk for battle, bribe them for information, or even mug them! Each character has two Path Actions - one for day and another for night, making for lots of different ways to find secrets and resolve quests.
And everything is brought to life in the game’s beautiful HD-2D art style, which fuses 2D sprites with 3D graphics for a look that’s both nostalgic and modern. If you want an RPG that pays homage to the past of the genre, while bringing it up to date with exciting fresh ideas, OCTOPATH TRAVELER II is not to be missed!
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition
DRAGON QUEST XI S takes the traditional-style RPG to its ultimate form.
Set in the vibrant world of Erdrea, you take on the role of the Luminary - a young man destined to destroy the forces of darkness. Of course, things aren’t quite as simple as that, and before long, you’re off on a continent-spanning adventure alongside a rag-tag group of allies and adventurers.
Everything about the game oozes premium quality, from the beautiful visuals to the fast-paced turn-based combat system. It’s a game where there’s always a new place to see or a new secret to discover, which makes it very hard to stop playing!
The Definitive Edition adds to what was already a great game, adding new story chapters based around party members, tons of quality of life features that make the game a joy to play, and even the ability to play the entire game in 2D, with classic DRAGON QUEST mechanics!
Look, the game’s a genuine masterpiece. Play it.
FINAL FANTASY I-VI Pixel Remaster Series
These games need no introductions: six of the most beloved RPGs in history have been remastered with beautiful pixel art, quality of life features such as auto-battle, and stunning rearranged and rerecorded soundtracks.
Each of these games is distinct and memorable, featuring innovative ideas that fans continue to adore to this day
Whether it’s the intricate job system of FINAL FANTASY III and V, the introduction of the fast-paced active time battle (ATB) combat in FINAL FANTASY IV or the incredible storytelling of FINAL FANTASY VI, there’s so much to enjoy here for both new and old fans.
The games area are available digitally on Nintendo Switch and PS4 and Steam - either individually or together as a bundle. They're also available on iOS and Android devices.
LIVE A LIVE
One of the most unique RPGs of the Super Nintendo era has been remade with stunning HD-2D visuals, newly added character voice over and a fantastic soundtrack, rearranged under the supervision of original composer Yoko Shimomura.
This is a game that dares to be different - rather than one continuous narrative, it’s an omnibus that contains multiple shorter stories. These tales follow eight individual protagonists in different eras - each with their own unique story and unique mechanics.
For example, you might be a ninja infiltrating a mysterious castle in Edo Japan, or a modern-day fighter on the world stage slugging it out to be the best. One story could see you trapped on board a spaceship in the wake of a terrible accident, while another puts you in the role of a kung fu master, searching for an heir in ancient China. One adventure even takes you to prehistoric times, before language even existed.
You can play seven chapters in any order, with a final eight chapter awaiting at the end, set in the Middle Ages.
Full of twists and turns and with a strategic turn-based battle system where timing and character placement matter, LIVE A LIVE is innovative, experimental and one of the best RPGs you can get today:
The Voice of Cards series
This series of laid-back RPGs is full of humor and heart. Each one tells its tale through the medium of cards - the world is made from cards, the characters are portrayed as cards, and even weapons and attacks in combat are cards.
The games are bursting with personality thanks to a stellar creative team, including Creative Director YOKO TARO (Creative Director on the NieR series), Character Designer Kimihiko Fujisaka (Drakengard series) and Music Director Keiichi Okabe (NieR series).
There are three games in the Voice of Cards series - each one a completely standalone tale with its own world, characters and mechanics. They are:
Voice of Cards: The Isle Dragon Roars - a less-than reputable adventurer sets out on a not-entirely-altruistic mission to kill the dragon that terrorizes the kingdom.
Voice of Cards: The Forsaken Maiden - a young hero heads onto the high seas to find a way to save his island from imminent destruction.
Voice of Cards: The Beasts of Burden - a girl swears revenge on monsters after they destroy her home.
They’re breezy adventures, with incredible presentation and fantastic music across the board, compelling stories with unconventional characters and entertaining turn-based battles. You won’t find many RPGs as wildly entertaining as these!
While each game is available to purchase individually, they’re also now available in a collection. Go check it out:
BRAVELY DEFAULT II
BRAVELY DEFAULT II is a joyous celebration of classic RPGs - we’re talking turn-based combat, an incredibly flexible job system, dangerous dungeons to delve into, memorable heroes and - naturally - an absolutely incredible soundtrack.
But while it hearkens back to games like FINAL FANTASY V, it’s no mere nostalgia project. It modernizes things with innovative ideas of its own, including the battle system, from which the game takes its name.
In combat, you can choose to ‘Default’, and defend against damage, and save that turn to use later. Or you can use the ‘Brave’ command to spend all your turns in succession, allowing you to link multiple actions together. It’s very easy to get to grips with but has a staggering amount of tactical depth.
Long story short, if you’re a fan of Japanese RPGs, then you owe it to yourself to play BRAVELY DEFAULT II.
Head into a dark and mysterious dungeon full of obstacles, monsters and surprises in an RPG that dares to be different.
DUNGEON ENCOUNTERS strips back the genre to its essential elements, and in doing so takes those elements to incredible heights. You traverse 99 floors of a deep and dangerous labyrinth using a 2D grid-based movement system that requires you to consider your routes very carefully.
That’s because there are lots of dangerous monsters on each floor, which you’ll face off against using a refined version of the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, as pioneered in FINAL FANTASY IV. In fact, the creator of that battle system, Hiroyuki Ito, is the Director for this game!
Add a rocking soundtrack overseen by Musical Director Nobuo Uematsu, and you have an incredibly accomplished and satisfying adventure. It may not be the most flamboyant RPG on this list, but it’s definitely one of the most strategic and satisfying.
Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered
The SaGa series is one of the most respected RPG franchises out there, lauded for its free-form storytelling, innovative combat system and incredible soundtracks. Late last year, one of the best games in the series was remastered for modern platforms: Romancing SaGa -Minstrel Song- Remastered.
This new version of the game (itself a PS2 remake, released in Japan and the US in 2005, of the original Romancing SaGa originally released in Japan in 1992) enhances the original with new events, new characters to recruit and use in battle, and lots of quality of life improvements, such as speeding up time.
It’s the perfect entry point for anyone coming to the SaGa series for the first time and a nostalgic treat to those who aren’t.
Are you looking for something a little different? VARIOUS DAYLIFE gives you a fresh take on the turn-based RPG.
The setup is simple. You’re a new resident of a growing settlement on a largely unexplored continent. Along with a party of allies, you’ll head out to chart these untamed lands and discover its secrets.
Of course, exploration of the unknown is dangerous, and you’ll need to be both strong and skilled to survive these “expeditions”. But you can’t gain power through taking on foes - you need to get a job. By undertaking everyday work in the town, you’ll grow in strength and unlock new abilities in combat.
There are more than 100 types of work with over 20 job classes to take on - everything from Secretary and Scholar to Herbalist and Hunter. Be careful about taking on too much in a row though - you have to balance your stamina and mood to avoid collapsing and losing stats. To introduce a twist to this traditional job-and-ability, turn-based battle, this game also features an innovative battle system called The Three CHAs. CHANGE your foes' conditions, build up a CHAIN of attacks and seize your CHANCE at inflicting heavy damage!
This combination of everyday work and exciting “expeditions” creates a hugely entertaining and distinctive gameplay loop - and one that’s quite hard to break away from when it gets its hooks in!
Tactics Ogre: Reborn
One of the greatest tactical RPGs of all time returned last year even better than before.
Fans of the genre often cite Tactics Ogre as one of its crown jewels, and it’s easy to see why. The branching story is exciting and thought-provoking, the fantastic characters are endlessly quotable, and the worldbuilding is second to none. But it’s the intensely strategic combat that perhaps shines brightest of all.
Combat encounters are varied and require mastery of the battlefield and understanding of your units to triumph. Each one is a satisfying tactical challenge that feels rewarding and satisfying in equal measure, and even dozens of hours in you’ll find yourself excited to see what challenges lie ahead.
The most recent release of the game, Tactics Ogre: Reborn, has reworked many aspects of the game, making them easier to understand and engage, while also increasing the strategic depth. This is the best way to play the game, making it an essential play for fans of tactical RPGs.
Take a dark and mature story where your choices matter, exciting and deeply strategic turn-based battles, and the utterly gorgeous HD-2D art style pioneered in games like OCTOPATH TRAVELER, and you have TRIANGLE STRATEGY…
…and it’s every bit as good as it sounds.
The story of this modern tactical RPG takes place in a continent whose nations went to war over salt and iron. 30 years after the last conflict, new tensions are building between the nations, and a fresh war looms.
As Lord Serenoa Wolffort, it falls on you to make morally ambiguous choices, while trying to maintain the support of your strong-minded companions… who may have their own opinions on the situation. Then you’ll lead your troops into intense battles, where your tactical know-how is essential to success.
It’s a deep, challenging game that fans of tactical RPGs will adore. As will new players - with multiple difficult options, it’s also a great entry point for the genre. Give it a go!
CHRONO CROSS: THE RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION
CHRONO CROSS is a true RPG classic, and it’s now available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, and Steam!
Its ambitious story focuses on Serge, a young man living a simple life in a small fishing village. One day, he finds himself transported to a parallel world where no one recognizes him… because it turns out this world’s version of him died years ago.
Joined by a tomboy thief called Kid, Serge embarks on an epic quest across two parallel worlds to unveil the connection between his existence and the future of the planet.
The RADICAL DREAMERS EDITION enhances the original PS1 adventure with upgraded models and fonts, refined music by original composer Yasunori Mitsuda and battle enhancement features like auto-battle, the ability to turn off enemy encounters, and even Battle Boosts to give you an edge in combat.
It also includes RADICAL DREAMERS - Le Trésor Interdit” - a text-based adventure that originally released in 1996 for the Super Famicom peripheral Satellaview. It had never been available in the West before this release, and it’s an amazing story that serves as a bedrock to the story of CHRONO CROSS, so well worth checking out!
We’ve focused on the more recent releases in this guide because we suspect that many of you will have already played classics like FINAL FANTASY VII - FINAL FANTASY X. Even so, it’s worth noting there are many more turn-based (technically command-based if they have real-time elements like ATB) RPGs available from Square Enix.
If you’re looking for a top tier RPG experiences, we strongly recommend the following excellent games:
- DRAGON QUEST (Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android)
- DRAGON QUEST II (Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android)
- DRAGON QUEST III (Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android)
- Romancing SaGa 3 (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows10, Steam, iOS, Android)
- SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android)
- SaGa Frontier Remastered (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android)
- FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster (available in FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster - PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam)
Command based with real-time elements
- FINAL FANTASY VII (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android)
- FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android)
- FINAL FANTASY IX (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam, iOS, Android, Windows 10)
- FINAL FANTASY X-2 HD Remaster (available in FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster - PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Steam)
- FINAL FANTASY XIII (Steam, Xbox One, Windows)
- FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 (Steam, Xbox One, Windows)
- LOST SPHEAR (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam)
- I am Setsuna (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Steam)
- CHRONO TRIGGER (Steam, iOS, Android)
- WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA (PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Steam)
As you can see, turn-based RPG fans have plenty of options available. We’re sure you have your own suggestions too, so follow us on social media and share your thoughts: