5 best turn-based combat games to try out in 2022

Divinity Original Sins 2 won 3 BAFTA game awards in 2017 (Image via Larian Studios)
Divinity Original Sins 2 won 3 BAFTA game awards in 2017 (Image via Larian Studios)
Sambit Pal

Turn-based combat was a mainstay gameplay mechanic for the vast majority of old-school JRPGs.

However, the mechanic exists on paper across many other genres. In emulating the feel of pen-and-paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons, taking turns in combat is also prevalent across numerous western RPGs, deck-building, 4x games, and more recently, roguelike and roguelite games.

As the genres diversify, so do the little nuances with which they modify the idea of turn-based combat itself.

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Readers must note that the following list is not sequenced in order of superiority but simply serves as a display of the broader spectrum of modern turn-based gameplay in RPGs and roguelites.

Five games with the best modern turn-based combat experience

1) Tainted Grail: Conquest (2021)

  • Developers/publishers: Awaken Realms Digital
  • Platforms: PC

For players who want to get into the meat of the action, roguelites best fit their interests. Tainted Grail: Conquest is a hybrid rogulite-RPG that grants tactical turn-based action and vertical progression that significantly add to its replay value.

There are nine total classes, three from each of its three factions. Its clear demarcation between the hub-area and the outer world parallels Path of Exile, a game whose art design it resembles greatly.

2) Darkest Dungeon (2015)

  • Developers/publishers: Red Hook Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, PS Vita, iOS, Switch, Xbox One

The second roguelite entry for this list, Darkest Dungeon has become almost an iconic symbol of the genre with its unique blending of hardcore Gothic turn-based combat and the stress mechanic borrowed from the likes of Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

Unlike other turn-based combat systems, Darkest Dungeon has the player juggling stress as a resource outside of the usual hit-points and action points, complete with affluences and virtues that affect it. The sequel, while not feature-complete, is in a playable early access release.

3) Divinity: Original Sin 2 (2017)

  • Developers/Publishers: Larian Studios
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One

Divinity: Original Sin 2 reawakened the love for classic computer RPGs like Baldur's Gate as much as Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity did back in the 2010s. On top of it, this title features one of the most fulfilling, deep, and comprehensive turn-based combat systems in the current generation of video games.

However, compared to other titles on this list, it has a slow but thorough start meant to be imbibed at its own pace.

4) South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014)

  • Developers/Publishers: Obsidian Entertainment/Ubisoft
  • Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Switch, Xbox 360, Xbox One

Obsidian's take on the beloved South Park franchise in the form of an RPG did absolute wonders on both fronts. It was on par with the expectations from a South Park adaptation, plus it delivered a solid role-playing game experience with a turn-based combat system that was fleshed out well.

It applies many of the turn-based combat gimmicks and commonplaces with its whimsical twists on them in a fashion very much reminiscent of Rockstar Games' Bully.

5) Wasteland 3 (2020)

  • Developers/Publishers: inXile Entertainment
  • Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One

Developed by Deep Silver, the Wasteland series is much more a spiritual successor to the classic Fallout games (1 and 2) than the new Bethesda renditions are. They are set in a similar desolate, militaristic landscape and feature turn-based combat systems that take more than a page out of Fallout 2.

Playing Wasteland 3, one can experience some of the charms of Fallout turn-based combat in a modernized form.

Note: This article reflects the author's views.

Edited by Ravi Iyer


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