best Android RPGs without in-app purchases

There are tons of role-playing games available on Android, but plenty of them adopt freemium models which will nickel-and-dime you in order to fast track progression. Hardened, old-school RPG players want none of that, and for them we've assembled our favorite Android RPGs without in-app purchases. If your tolerance for IAPs is a little higher, check out our top 10 Android role-playing games overall, which includes some of those below and some freemium titles.

Our top ten role-playing games without in-app purchases span multiple styles, and some may even test the limits for what you consider an RPG, but no matter your definition, these will provide rich stories and character development, unsullied by ads or nagging to buy gems. Keep in mind that we have a few titles here that use in-app purchases exclusively to buy episodic content beyond the free sample provided. In these cases, you'll be able to shell out for the season pass or get individual episodes a la carte, which we figure is as good as making a purchase at the onset.

With that said, let's dig into the best Android role-playing games without IAPs.

Wayward Souls

Wayward Souls is a roguelike action-RPG with retro 32-bit graphics. Players hack and slash their way through randomly generated dungeons with one of six unique characters. Soaking in the storyline can be a little bit of a challenge, provided once you die, that's it — you've got to start over from the beginning. Combat is real-time, as opposed to the usual turn-based scheme you find in roguelike games, though the overriding theme of finding the next exit to the dungeon level remains.

Gluttons for punishment will have a field day with Wayward Souls.

Shadowrun Returns

Shadowrun Returns is an old-school role-playing game set in a gritty sci-fi future. In the first campaign, players are hot on the trail of a series of murders and have to uncover the killer and his grisly purpose. The game is full of important dialog decisions, traditional turn-based combat, and a signature mix of technology and magic. Shadowrun Returns does a beloved franchise justice with solid RPG mechanics and fresh, riveting visuals.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery is a point-and-click adventure with the occasional reflex-driven mini-game thrown in. The signature pixel art style will immediately strike you, but the graphics throughout remain very smoothly animated. The classic fantasy setting is contrasted by modern dialogue language and a bizarre pseudo-scientific meta-narrative. You'll also be dealing with real-world lunar cycles to solve certain puzzles, which is particularly different.

Sword & Sworcery is an altogether unique role-playing game that you should try out at least once.

Final Fantasy VI

For those that are looking for a blast from the RPG past, Final Fantasy VI delivers. The SNES classic has several graphical enhancements without losing the charm of the original. Players work their way through a gripping story about magic, technology, and the corruption caused by power. Combat follows the classic turn-based structure, alongside standard experience point and equipment progression.

Pretty much the entire Final Fantasy catalogue is available for Android if FFVI wasn't your favorite, plus the Dragon Quest games are being ported over with some aggressive remastering if you were a bigger fan of those games.

Sorcery! 2

In Steve Jackson's Sorcery! 2, players take the reins of a bold adventurer exploring a rich fantasy world. Just about every step comes with a new choice that has long-term repercussions on how your story ultimately unfolds. Each of those decisions are highlighted in a novel-style narrative that will be familiar to gamebook fans. There are also more decidedly game-y elements, such as stamina points and a light combat system, but by and large it's your decisions and not your stats that will determine the story's outcome. For the full experience, you'll want to start with the first Sorcery! game and work your way up.

Sorcery! 2 offers fantastic replay value and superb story.

Battleheart

Battleheart is an action RPG that set a standard for touch-friendly controls, and spawned many imitators. Players drag and release their party members about the battlefield in order to move, pick spell targets, and attack enemy mobs. A series of encounters gives your party a chance to level up, unlock new classes, and deck out characters in phat loot.

Battleheart is a charming, challenging RPG with a control scheme you'll quickly fall in love with.

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead is an outstanding comic and television series about a group of survivors in a zombie apocalypse. Though the game here has little to do with the series, you'll find just as much cinematic excellence. Players have to make snap life-or-death decisions, complete rigorous gauntlets of reflex gameplay when fighting off the undead, and, best (worst?) of all, live with the decisions you've made from one episode to the next. The art style, though cartoony, is hugely expressive and the stories aren't lacking for maturity.

There are 5 episodes, plus a bonus chapter called 400 Days. You can get the entire batch for $19.99, or $4.99 a pop. Be sure to dig into season two of The Walking Dead once you're done.

Chaos Rings II

Chaos Rings II is the conclusion to a built-for-mobile JRPG franchise by Square Enix. Players are thrust into the crucible of crisis as a hero fated to sacrifice innocent lives to save the world. Throughout the game you chose to embrace or defy your destiny and combat otherworldly creatures. The action follows the familiar turn-based structure, and boasts stellar 3D graphics.

Grab Chaos Rings II if you're in the market for an over-the-top epic, or better yet, start off with the original Chaos Rings and the sequel, Chaos Rings Omega, before getting into this one.

King of Dragon Pass

King of Dragon Pass is part sim, part RPG, and part gamebook. Players are in charge of a fledgling clan and must meet diplomatic, logistic, and military challenges in the way they see fit. Storylines are tailor-written, each with branching choices and consequences, and are accompanied by high-quality original artwork. The game's mechanics are intricate and difficult to master in order to unite the world's disparate clans under a common banner.

Would-be leaders will have lots of fun meeting the challenges of King of Dragon Pass.

Lone Wolf

Joe Dever's Lone Wolf elegantly combines gamebook mechanics with beautiful turn-based 3D combat. Players build a decidedly badass fantasy hero who's on a mission to repel the forces of darkness. Throughout you make decisions through an ongoing narrative based on character traits that are picked at the onset, and engage in exciting turn-based combat with a variety of enemies. Combat mechanics require timing, finesse, and smart resource management to get through alive.

Three acts are available, the first for free, the other two for $4.99 each, or $11.99 for a season pass. Overall, lone Wolf provides richly-textured story and intense action.

Your favorite Android RPGs without IAPs?

Those are our top ten Android role-playing games that buck the freemium trend, but there are plenty more great picks in the Google Play Store. Share your favorite RPGs in the comments!