Are there any good turn-based RPGs out there?
January 31, 2008 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Are there any good turn-based RPGs out there?

Hey all!

Want to plumb your brains: are there any turn-based RPGs with good storylines out there?

I played (and loved) Spiderweb's Geneforge series. They have a story almost as complex and interesting as LOTR, and I loved the turn-based combat. I'm not a trigger-happy person, and love the fact that I can pause in the middle of a fight and go have lunch.

Any recommendations?

Thanks a million!
posted by jdruk to Computers & Internet (26 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne for the PS2, if you can find it. It doesn't have explicit cutscenes that hand you dollops of plot, but nonetheless there's a strong story that's implied by what you see as you travel through a changing world. It's also the only recent turn-based RPG I can think of that's non-trivial to beat--that is, no amount of grinding will help you if you don't know what you're doing.
posted by Prospero at 1:11 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

for which system??
posted by LiquidKarma at 1:12 PM on January 31, 2008

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King for Playstation 2 is just about perfect. The story is minimal (but still fun with some twists), but that just accentuates the gameplay itself, which is pure turn-based monster-bashing joy.
posted by 1 at 1:13 PM on January 31, 2008

If you haven't already played it, Fallout. The diehard turn-based RPG fans consider it the greatest of this genre. Excellent, excellent story with a very open-ended structure.

There's also Baldur's Gate II, which isn't truly turn-based, but the auto-pause system lets you play it in a way that is turn-based. Another good story, with excellent characters.
posted by ignignokt at 1:14 PM on January 31, 2008

While it isn't 100 percent turn-based, it is pretty darn close and very deep regardless, you will find few RPGs with as highly hailed a story as Planescape: Torment for the PC. Many people consider it the best RPG of all time.
posted by tittergrrl at 1:16 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Earthbound for the SNES has a fairly simple, turned-based combat system and a quirky storyline that starts of a bit childish and eventually grows somewhat dark and surreal. Then really surreal.

It's really almost a satire of game plots, at points, with goals like obtaining a Giant Pencil Eraser so you can erase the Giant Pencil that just happens to block your path. Overall the tone isn't really *serious*, but there is some unexpected depth to the plot once your start to examine it.

Carts are somewhat hard to find, but I'm sure an internet-savvy individual could find a way to play.
posted by Benjy at 1:22 PM on January 31, 2008

this thread might have some answers for you.
posted by advil at 1:24 PM on January 31, 2008

Seconding Dragon Quest VIII. It's wonderfully done, and I got in about 120 hours of fun on my first playthrough - and I'm pretty sure I still haven't found everything.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:26 PM on January 31, 2008

If you've played Geneforge and not Avernum, what are you waiting for?
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 1:36 PM on January 31, 2008

Heroes of Might and Magic is turn based. Also, there was a BADASS Sega:CD game called "Third World War." Probably nobody here has ever played it, but it's a great one.
posted by TomMelee at 1:49 PM on January 31, 2008

Dig up some classics - Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge and Wizardry VII: Crusaders of the Dark Savant were two of the most satisfying turn based RPGs ever, if you can find them.

And seconding the Fallout games if you haven't already played them...I just recently replayed the first and have plans to do the second. The graphics are dated but if you like the Geneforge games that shouldn't be a problem, and they are still better than almost anything that has come out since (especially since most RPGs these days are just first person shooters with character stats and a token backstory).

Oh, and Heroes of Might and Magic is not an RPG.
posted by JaredSeth at 1:53 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

Thanks for all the answers - definitely going to check these games out!

@ LiquidKarma: Platforms are PC, Mac, Wii (and all old Nintendo, since you can buy them for the Wii), a Playstation is not out of the picture either...

@ Nicolas :) Yup, I've been eyeing the Avernums, but I hear the navigation systems in those games are a royal pain in the butt
posted by jdruk at 1:55 PM on January 31, 2008

If you like the spiderweb games (have you checked out the nethergate/exile ones?), you should have a go at eschalon (which is a series although only book 1 is out so far). Quite similar, IMO, although individual character, rather than party-based.
posted by juv3nal at 2:08 PM on January 31, 2008

PS2s are so cheap now that you really need to get one just on general principles if you're into turn based RPGs. Dragon's Quest VIII is indeed fantastic. I also loved Final Fantasy X. (And even X-2 if you just face the fact going in that it's going to be a little silly.)

The Suikoden games, though they never got quite as good as the first two on the original playstation.

OH!! Shadow Hearts! Three games, set in our world (well, a Japanese RPG version of it anyway) around the turn of the 20th century. Full of romance and mysticism and demons and stuff. The third game, From the New World is maybe only for fans, but the first two, Shadow Hearts and especially Shadow Hearts: Covenant are fantastic. They are turn based, although they make a faint nod to twitch gamers by making you time button presses to get the best results when you attack.
posted by Naberius at 2:17 PM on January 31, 2008

Throwing in secondings for Earthbound, Planescape: Torment and Fallout (Fallout 2 is also good, avoid Fallout Tactics).

Arcanum is another similar suggestion. It's from Troika, which was made up largely of Black Isle ex-pats, so if you like Fallout, PS: Torment or Baldur's Gate, check out Arcanum as well.
posted by Nelsormensch at 2:36 PM on January 31, 2008

It's been mentioned (more than once), but I'd just like to say that I am replaying Planescape: Torment right now. It really is a fantastic game, and the story is a lot of that. It is not turn-based -- auto-pause isn't the same thing, and just makes a game awkward in my experience. But Planescape is good enough to play anyway.

Fallout 1 and 2 are both excellent. Arcanum is pretty good, although somehow I always lose interest halfway through.

Uh, glancing at the related thread linked above, I realize that I've already answered this and I'm repeating myself.

For console games, I'd recommend Final Fantasy Tactics and Disgaea if you like grid-based, squad tactic rpgs, and Suikoden 3 for something more console-rpg-typical. Maybe Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross? I can't remember if they're turn-based per se.
posted by coined at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2008

Oh--if you have a Wii, then look for a used copy of the Gamecube version of Skies of Arcadia: Legends. Its game mechanics can be exploited if you put some thought into it, but it has great characters and story. Also, it's got battles between big, slow, ponderous flying ships. Those get pretty tense.

And Naberius is right about the Shadow Hearts games. Recommended: watch the film Russian Ark, and then see how closely the designers of Shadow Hearts: Covenant duplicated the look of the Hermitage during the sequence in Russia. I'd say more about the SH games, but it's best to discover their sheer wackiness for yourself.
posted by Prospero at 3:09 PM on January 31, 2008

posted by namewithoutwords at 4:28 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Jagged Alliance II is excellent.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:33 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]

X-COM till the end of the day.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 5:34 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II and (I think) Planescape are indeed turn based. However, the default settings are to not pause after each round and to allow the AI to select the actions of your characters (if you don't give them specific orders) but this can be turned off making it pure turn based.

For some of the bigger boss fights I always turned on the stop after every round option as the magic-user needed to cast some pretty specific spells to win near the end.
posted by Bonzai at 7:44 PM on January 31, 2008

Does Knights of the Old Republic fit the bill? If so, both the original and sequel are excellent games.
posted by spiderskull at 8:51 PM on January 31, 2008

Huh, now that I think of it, they weren't turn-based. For some reason I thought they were. Ignore my comment.
posted by spiderskull at 8:52 PM on January 31, 2008

The navigation is fine in Avernum, psh. They all have free versions, if you just want to give them a try. Unusually engrossing setting, too.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 6:58 AM on February 1, 2008

pretty much the whole final fantasy series was awesome, and turn-based.
chrono-trigger - aaaaamazing snes game. get yourself an emulator and the rom and relax to it.

i also enjoyed wild arms.
posted by kneelconqueso at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2008

Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II and (I think) Planescape are indeed turn based.

While BG2 and Planescape are excellent games and Planescape certainly in my top 3 favorites evar, they never felt properly turn-based to me. Technically I know you can make it autopause at the end of a round, but the reason they always felt less turn-based to me than something like fallout is because you click to specify movement and the distance you can move is some continuous movement rate over time thing. You can estimate pretty accurately how far your guy can move in a round, but I never know exactly, whereas the kinds of games I see as being "real" turn based measure movement in discrete # of steps (e.g. fallout, spiderweb games).
posted by juv3nal at 12:58 PM on February 1, 2008

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