Turn-Based RPGs Are Dead

Turn-based RPGs are in the grave and have been for ages now. They are dead. The type of game that so many people – including myself -loved very dearly has seemingly vanished from existence. Why? Why is that exactly?

Is it now too boring for gamers to sit around and immerse themselves in hundreds of hours of rich, tactically immense game play or is it because faster paced games are just more likely to catch the attention of regular Tom Dick passing by his local brick and mortar game store?

As it should be.

As it should be.

Turn based gaming goes all the way back to, well, back to chess. It was an instant hit with the colonial people, and so were many games in the 90’s and early 2000’s like Pokemon, Chrono Trigger, Wild Arms and many others with the then “hip’ gamer of yesteryear.

One of my favorite games of all time is Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, which was a brilliant one. It was a hybrid of turn-based and real time strategic battling with lightsabers and I love(d) it. Hybrid type games like KotOR provide an answer for the people who complain that taking turns to initiate combat is too slow or monotonous for them.

The greatness of these turn-based games is that they give the player a nice length of time to pause and assess what their situation is on the battleground and also cuts out any unfairness. Even playing on a high difficulty, you can still breeze through many turn-based RPGs once you smartly understand the different enemy mechanics and when to heal or buff your characters accordingly.

Newer games usually stick to faster and more instantaneously gratifying forms of game play mostly favoring real-time, frenetic combat. Some might say this is more realistic for the current gen, but since when have video games ever been about being realistic? I refer to the image below to support this.


Coming across a game that does not have real time combat is like coming across a mythical unicorn in the wild. Yes they do appear (Persona 4, Dragon Age: Origins) but it is now so rare you could validly say that it is similar to the tales told by old sages in medieval times.

I miss that feeling of being confronted with leveling my character and being offered two branching perks that will drastically alter the way I play later on, feeling powerful when coming across wild enemies that used to cause me unparalleled stress and blowing them away with a burst of my newly unlocked fire power.

Dragon Age: Origins was another rare gem in between the usual fare of game styles. It offered a mix between real-time and turn-based action, but leaned more toward the latter, and in turn had combat that was pretty much perfect. It just worked; fighting dragons and switching across to your party members and lining up attacks just felt right.

Why the developers thought it best to switch this style of play to Dragon Age II’s fast flurry of insta-attacks will always puzzle me. I’m not particularly fond of constantly mashing a button to perform a basic move. It feels like the developers are saying to me ‘Hey you idiot, keep hitting that thing and pretend like it means something.’



There can be a fine balance of crazy battling and too-lax grinding though, as many JRPGs have proven. A finer balance with game play and a look back onto what once worked in the industry would perhaps be wise and helpful to the current state of generic action games.

RPGs especially have a massive problem now of forcing you to mash/cut/shoot/heal all in a constant blur of confusion. A combination of lining up and freely attacking enemies like the original KotOR would be brilliant if it made a return as it would differentiate and create a nice niche for the people tired of the same old thing.

Turn-based games are dead because developers think people aren’t interested in them anymore. Gamers are lining up to play Call of Duty in folds but, sadly, it appears the more intellectual thinking man’s role playing game has taken to the backseat of the hypothetical gaming bus.

And I thought that was where all the cool games sat.