If you like games that require analyzing the next move, here are some recommendations!
It’s hard to shake the feeling that turn-based games are a thing of the past when you look at the majority of new releases. Granted, there are fewer and fewer of them every year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the genre is dead. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Just look at how popular the Persona franchise is.
We dare to say that strategizing your moves can be as enjoyable as slashing enemies blindly in fast-paced AAA hits. Therefore, we’d like to look at some of the best turn-based RPG games to prove that there’s still plenty to discover.
This article was updated on February 12, 2024. We’ve replaced some picks and added newly released turn-based games to the list! They’re sure to test your mettle.
What are turn-based games?
The turn-based strategy games concept isn’t complicated, at least in theory. The essence is that actions take place in turns. In older productions like Eastern Front (1941), the mechanics were indeed simple. However, games like X-COM 2 or Sid Meyer’s Civilization VI demonstrate how the gameplay became more complex over time. Despite more variables needing to be considered, the core remained the same.
Think of turn-based RPGs as the classic tabletop you enjoy in the company of your family or friends. Each player has time to plan, prepare, and consider their next move in order to achieve a favorable outcome. In contrast, everything happens simultaneously in real-time strategy games. Therefore, it’s crucial to act and outsmart the opponent faster.
What are the best turn-based games on PC?
If you enjoy titles that require you to think 100 steps ahead, you’ve come to the right place. Our list is not restricted to any genre, so you’ll find RPGs, strategies, or roguelikes here. There’s something to suit all tastes, so without further ado, let’s begin!
Persona 4 Golden
If you have already beaten P5R, you should give Persona 4 Golden a try. It’s smaller and less “showy” than its successor, but it still has the qualities that define the series: a memorable cast of characters and a compelling story. In addition, the combination of dungeon crawler and life simulation provides a truly engaging gameplay experience.
The game takes you to the rural Japanese town of Inaba, where you try to solve the mystery behind a string of murders. But there’s more to the case than meets the eye, as it seems to be linked to the strange TV World.
Octopath Traveler and Octopath Traveler II
If you’re a fan of a more traditional approach to the genre, this one might be right up your alley. In Octopath Traveler, you control eight protagonists, each with a separate storyline. The dancer seeks revenge, the honorable warrior looks for a purpose in life, and the hunter searches for her master. That’s only a fraction of what the game has to offer.
The combat is challenging, and it’s impossible to “dash” through the enemies. You must take advantage of their weaknesses, especially the big (and that’s not even an exaggeration) bad bosses. The beautiful HD-2D visuals are like a cherry on top of this great JRPG.
It’s worth mentioning that it received a sequel in 2023. Octopath Traveler II keeps the formula of the original while improving all aspects and adding features. However, it follows an entirely new cast of characters, so you don’t have to catch up on the first installment.
Gears Tactics (Included with Game Pass)
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If you’re into games like XCOM, Gears Tactics is a solid option, especially for fans of Gears of War. Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with the franchise; it takes place before the events of the first main installment, so you won’t feel lost. In fact, you might find yourself hooked on the series, even though the gameplay is quite different.
Follow Gabe Diaz as he leads squads on a mission to take down the powerful leader of the Locust army, Ukkon. Immerse yourself in turn-based battles. Strategically position your troops, use their abilities wisely, and equip them with the best weapons to ensure victory.
The good news is that Gears Tactics is part of Game Pass, a Microsoft subscription service that allows its users to take advantage of an ever-growing library of games. Check out the best deals for a 1-month membership below.
Darkest Dungeon (Included with Game Pass) and Darkest Dungeon II
Most people play video games to relax. Therefore, suffering and agony are not things they usually expect to experience. Unless they come across titles like Pathologic, Dark Souls, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, or Darkest Dungeon.
This blend of dungeon crawler and roguelike is incredibly challenging. Not only will you battle mutilated foes, but also your own demons. Paranoia, fear, as well as many other nightmares will plague you. Also, DLC expands the game with vampires and terrifying Lovecraftian creatures.
Into the Breach
Now, something for the sci-fi lovers out there. Into the Breach is set in the far future, where humanity fights giant monsters called Vek. The player controls up to three mechs, trying to fulfill the objective that differs depending on the particular map. That mostly means surviving a few turns while protecting the civilians or particular buildings.
It doesn’t sound like one of the top-notch turn based games on Steam, but trust us on this one: overwhelmingly positive opinions on Steam are well-deserved. You will have to think for minutes before taking any action to maximize your efficiency. The difficulty level is brutal but never unfair. Easy to learn, hard to master, just like chess.
Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Arguably the best turn-based JRPG on PC, Dragon Quest XI, is the newest installment of this beloved franchise. Unlike Final Fantasy, DQ has mostly stayed the same since the first game’s release in 1986. However, it has improved the formula over the years. Hence, Echoes of the Elusive Age is the most detailed entry. Plus, it’s the first one to officially come to PC, excluding some spin-offs.
Definitive Edition also includes Japanese voice acting and a few perks, like the orchestral soundtrack and a special 2D mode. It is undoubtedly the best starting point for the series. There’s no need to know the previous games, so don’t worry about being out of the loop.
Baldur’s Gate 3
Unquestionably, Baldur’s Gate 3 is the king of RPG turn-based games. It impresses with its stunning graphics, compelling storyline, and top-notch voice acting, and even manages to entice those who aren’t typically drawn to gaming.
The combat system is a standout, although it can be confusing for newcomers. Each battle requires a different strategy, turning them into exciting experiments. The synergy between various spells and attacks adds another dimension. For example, you can lure enemies into a puddle of water and then unleash a lightning bolt for a shockingly electrifying effect.
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XCOM: Enemy Unknown and XCOM 2
The list of the best turn based games wouldn’t be complete without this iconic series. In XCOM, you can customize and manage your unique soldiers and lead them throughout over 70 unique missions. Between battles, you will operate your base, develop new technologies, and recruit units.
The sequel kicks off 20 years after the events of the first title. It adds even more mechanics, making the experience smoother and much more enjoyable for the returning players. If you’re already familiar with the base game, buy War of the Chosen DLC to make replaying XCOM 2 more challenging and fun. Since the franchise was around for a while, you can easily find all of its turn based games on Steam for a sweet price.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remastered
Final Fantasy X is the last good entry in the whole series for many people. Famous for its plot, fantastic music, and engaging combat, it still holds strong, even in terms of graphics.
Final Fantasy X-2, on the other hand, is hated for butchering the story of its predecessor and being a much lighter, sillier production. Does it mean that it’s not worth giving a chance? Hell no. Who knows, maybe you’ll consider it one of the best Final Fantasy games. There’s no harm in trying.
Heroes of Might & Magic III: HD Edition
Oh, a classic! Who doesn’t know the most famous entry in the Heroes of Might and Magic series? The game brings so many fond memories that returning to it will be a pleasure, especially if you have company to play it in hot seat mode on one PC.
Unfortunately, the HD remaster doesn’t contain the DLCs, and if you don’t want to buy it on a platform other than Steam, you’re stuck with this version. Nevertheless, it’s still good old “Heroes,” fantastic on its own, without the expansions.
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI
Not every strategy game focuses solely on combat, and the Civilization series is a great example. Here, your main goal is to develop a civilization that will, after many millennia, become a world power. Each entry is worth playing, but as this one is the most recent, we’d discuss it in more detail.
You’ll find yourself at home if you’re already familiar with the previous installments. All victory conditions are still based on the four elements: explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. The base game is delightful, but the two expansions add depth to the gameplay.
Some will say that Digimon is just a Pokemon copycat. That’s a huge overstatement, and don’t even try to convince us otherwise. Nintendo’s franchise might be more popular, but it doesn’t mean you should skip on its shy little brother.
Digimon Survive is a visual novel with tactical role-playing elements. There’s also enjoyable combat with evolutions and Persona-like monster catching. Remember that during 30 hours of play-through, you’ll be reading for 20 and fighting for 10. But believe us, the plot is so good that you’ll be waiting for the battle sections to end.
If evolving creatures and monster fighting is your cup of tea, our article on the best alternatives to Pokemon might pique your interest. Not only will you find Digimon Survive there, but also other fantastic titles offering similar mechanics.
Yakuza: Like a Dragon (Included with Game Pass)
Who could have predicted that Yakuza: Like a Dragon would shift the series from an action-packed brawler to a full-fledged JRPG? Certainly not us. What’s even more astonishing is that this transition is executed seamlessly.
Nevertheless, it’s the old Yakuza we all know and love. There are a ton of side activities, jobs to find, and mini-games to play. The plot is also excellent, with many twists and turns. Don’t worry about the absence of Kiryu; Ichiban embodies all the characteristics of lovable shonen anime protagonists. He’s over 40 years old, but who cares? Being a teenager is a state of mind.
Disgaea 5 Complete
Do you like leveling up? If the answer is yes, Disgaea 5 might be perfect for you. To put it short, it’s all about grinding and pure craziness in the digital form. After all, what other turn based RPG games in 2024 allow you to strengthen yourself up to level 9999? Not many, that’s for sure.
The complete edition includes three classes and eight new scenarios with fan-favorite characters like Laharl, Etna, and Valvatorezs. All those additions surely will let you play for 9999 hours, or 200 if you’re short on time.
Wasteland 3 (Included with Game Pass)
After exploring the scorching deserts of Wasteland 2, the creators from inXile Entertainment decided to cool us down with a bit of a change of scenery. Say goodbye to hot Arizona, and welcome ice-bound Colorado.
Wasteland 3 builds upon its predecessor while being more approachable for new players. It’s full of quests and difficult choices. Even if the previous installment in the series wasn’t to your liking due to its atmosphere, seriousness, or gameplay complexity, you might still want to give this one a go.
It also made it onto our list of the top RPGs, which speaks volumes about its quality.
Live A Live
First released for the SNES in 1994, Live A Live is next on our list of the best turn based RPGs on Steam. The original version was never brought to the West, but fortunately, the remake is out here for everyone to enjoy. The game features nine scenarios set in different time periods, ranging from prehistoric times to a sci-fi future.
Once you have completed them all, you come to the grand finale. It’s undoubtedly a rewarding experience due to its unique gameplay and non-linear storytelling.
On the surface, Triangle Strategy is one of the most stunning SRPG tactical games on the market. But underneath the awe-inspiring visuals lies gameplay that is just as captivating. At its core, it involves leading a team of heroes in epic battles where you use terrain and formations to gain the upper hand.
As you progress, you’ll also make important decisions that can shape the future of an entire country or even a continent. Without a doubt, it’s a must for fans of turn based PC games.
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Now, in our lineup of the best turn-based RPGs on Steam, we’ve got Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth. It’s the direct follow-up to Yakuza: Like a Dragon, featuring Ichiban Kasuga and Kazuma Kiryu in a whirlwind of unexpected escapades through Yokohama and Honolulu. You’ll encounter plenty of familiar faces along the way, so having some background in the series is a must.
Turn-based combat returns, but with added features. You can now move your characters before taking action, allowing for more powerful attacks or combo moves with your allies.
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Persona 3 Reload (Included with Game Pass)
If you want to get someone into turn-based PC strategy games or introduce them to the Persona series, Persona 3 Reload is a great choice. This revamped version of the 2006 classic not only looks amazing but also plays incredibly well, gradually introducing players to its core mechanics.
It takes place on the Tatsumi Port Island, where you join S.E.E.S., a group of teenagers who fight the shadows that lurk in the streets. With its accessible combat system, even inexperienced gamers will find it easy to jump in and have a blast. But that doesn’t mean veterans won’t fall in love with this new take on Persona 3.
Last but not least title on our lineup of the best turn based games on Steam is Chained Echoes. Although it’s a fairly typical take on the genre, inspired by classics like Chrono Trigger, you won’t regret giving it a go.
During the play-through, you embark on a grand mission to end the war. Along the way, you will gather allies, each with their own unique skills and personalities. It’s well worth picking up for its excellent combat system, charming pixel art graphics, and a rich story full of twists and turns.
That concludes our ranking of the best turn-based games. Do you like this type of gameplay? What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.