To lead and conquer! To plan and grow as the greatest of them all! Here’s what, in a nutshell, are the best strategic role-playing games of all time.

Strategy role-playing games came to life in 1982 with the release of The Dragon and Princess title. It was the first game transporting players to a separate battle screen to resolve the encountered conflict. But overall, the entire sub-genre represents heavy tabletop role-playing inspiration from titles like Dungeons & Dragons. However, it did not initially gain as much recognition as it should, becoming more of a niche recommendation for hardcore players. Everything changed around 2010 when digital distribution platforms like Steam started helping developers connect with their audiences. From then on, they could deliver what the recipients wanted, and that’s how the best strategic role-playing games became a thing.

Features That Define Great Strategic RPG Games

What is a strategic role-playing game? The title of this genre mixes the essential role-playing and tactical features, focusing on character development, discovering new locations, and real-time or turn-based battles. So, combat is vital, and acquiring better skills can make the difference between winning or losing. Such games rarely provide exploration – it does not matter as much as in classic titles of this genre. But you should know they exist in several subcategories like turn-based, real-time, wargames, and tower defense. Sometimes, these traits mix to create unique compositions. Therefore, in some games on Steam, players focus on considering the terrain – but in others, their hero or unit skills are all that matter. Luckily, specific descriptions will help you learn what to expect.

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Directors Cut

Release date:2014-09-18
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Harebrained Schemes

It is a standalone version of the add-on to Shadowrun Returns, expanding its content with new missions, improved combat, alternative endings, and a better character development system.

And it combines fantasy themes with cyberpunk reality!

Become a shadowrunner to join a team of unique characters looking for opportunities to earn some cash. But something goes wrong, and soon, the team will have to confront threats they didn’t even know existed. Shadowrun Director’s Cut is a highly engaging storyline, with turn-based combat and plenty of character development options. So you better prepare a decent plan to beat all these enemies!

Key features
  • Play the standalone Shadowrun Returns expansion pack
  • Create a hero and find companions for your team
  • Make decisions to see their consequences
  • Fight in turn-based combat and enjoy an engaging storyline

Kenshi

Release date:2018-12-06
Genre:Indie
Developer:Lo-Fi Games

This single-player recommendation combines real-time with role-playing features to deliver a free-roaming sandbox where you can achieve whatever you want.

But it takes place in a post-apocalyptic reality, so building a great career is more problematic than easy.

Lead one to fifty characters to explore 870 square kilometers of hostile world. Learn that this world is really alive, and things happen all the time and everywhere. Each character in this game has a life! Work, construct a base, fight in real-time, and become whatever you want. Injury, hunger, and fatigue can affect your experience, so expect hours of incredibly realistic fun.

Key features
  • Play a post-apocalyptic game combining role-playing with RTS
  • Explore 870 kilometers of a truly living world
  • Build a base, fight in real time, and try to survive
  • Watch out for injuries affecting your health

Divinity: Original Sin 2

Release date:2017-09-14
Genre:Adventure
Developer:Elverils LLC

It is a continuation of the iconic game from 2014, where players control the fate of one to even four characters traveling the world of Rivellon.

The action takes place a thousand years after the events of the last installation following the story of the hunt for powerful Sourcerers.

Pick from six available characters or create a unique hero by choosing race and class. Explore this world and discover how accurately it responds to your decisions! It is a classic role-playing title focusing on traveling, developing skills, collecting equipment, and playing the role. Except for turn-based combat requiring the use of the environment for gaining an advantage on the battlefield.

Key features
  • Discover the fantastic sequel to the 2014 game
  • Explore, find teammates, and fight in a turn-based combat
  • Develop your skills and lose yourself in a captivating storyline
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

Release date:2016-02-24
Genre:RPG
Developer:Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.

It is a perfect game if you are looking for the most memorable characters in the history of strategic role-playing titles. And it is so much fun!

Play as Laharl, a freshly awakened prince receiving news about his father’s death. To reclaim the throne, he must recruit his most loyal allies! This unique tale overflows with clever humor, hilarious puns, unexpected plot twists, and anime-like audiovisuals. Prepare for turn-based combat, high replayability, characters’ charm, and hours of joy!

Key features
  • Play as the dark lord reclaiming his throne
  • Explore, fight in turn-based combat, and level up
  • Enjoy the humor and variety of available characters
  • Witness one of several alternative endings

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

Release date:2007-05-10
Genre:RPG
Developer:Square Enix

As a remake of FFT, the game delivers proven role-playing adventures and remarkably complex combat choices. And it introduces two more character classes – Onion Knight and Dark Knight!

Engage in epic battles set in the war-torn world of Ivalice. Hire new soldiers, upgrade your equipment, and complete missions. But be careful – every journey across the map may result in random encounters with enemies, and this title features permadeath! Only turn-based combat can save you, but it definitely requires some strategic sense.

Key features
  • Play a tactical game set in the Final Fantasy universe
  • Choose units and win battles using their unique abilities
  • Consider the terrain to implement the right plan
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Shining Force 2

Release date:2011-01-26
Genre:RPG
Developer:SEGA

When the powerful jewels protecting Door to Darkness disappear without a trace, demonic power falls on the kingdom of Granseal. And you will be the one to save the situation!

Embark on an epic journey as Bowie – a young warrior chosen to fight against a dark enemy. This game focuses on exploration and turn-based combat by splitting into two independent segments. Traveling alone, you can visit cities, exchange teammates, or enjoy your time. But when fighting, your people are with you, and you must use all your strategic skills to survive. Failing means losing all your gold!

Key features
  • Investigate what happened with the missing jewels
  • Explore and save the kingdom
  • Fight in turn-based encounters using the skills of twelve characters
  • Travel and discover forgotten mysteries

Jagged Alliance 3

Release date:2023-07-14
Genre:RPG
Developer:Haemimont Games

Go to Grand Chien, lead your units, and save the country’s president in this hostile environment!

JA3 is a turn-based video game where you will lead a squad of soldiers completing subsequent missions. Every success brings more money and a better reputation – that always means help in the darkest hour! Choose from many available mercenaries and enjoy the realistic physics of each attack! Especially since all these great features happen in a non-linear story full of activities and satisfying battles.

Key features
  • Lead a mercenary squad to save the president of Grand Chien
  • Explore and fight in a turn-based combat
  • Select many available characters, weighing their skills
  • Play solo or in multiplayer

Fallout Tactics: Brotherhood of Steel

Release date:2001-03-01
Genre:Strategy
Developer:14° East

Join the Brotherhood of Steel and change the post-apocalyptic world! But in such a desperate reality, only forgotten technology can help you achieve this ambitious goal.

FT is an excellent recommendation for all Fallout series fans, especially its first two titles. Complete missions and fight multiplying enemies – solo or in multiplayer. You can use a powerful arsenal of weapons and vehicles to dominate turn-based battles and develop your teammates’ skills. But the absolute gem of this production is the atmosphere – heavy, brutal, and fun!

Key features
  • Play the exciting Fallout series spin-off
  • Lead a team of six unique characters
  • Complete missions using available weapons and vehicles
  • Play solo or in multiplayer for up to eighteen players

Conclusion

Classic role-playing games are fun, but sometimes, they lack that spark of adrenaline and the fear of losing. That’s why strategic story-driven titles exist – they combine a remarkable plot with a tactical rush, introducing more options to resolve a conflict. This list guarantees a variety of themes: military, post-apocalyptic, fantasy, anime, or even cyberpunk. Feel free to explore and choose the best of the best!