Turn-based tactic games, also referred to as tactical role-playing games, have and always will play a huge part in the gaming world. This is true for numerous reasons. First off, for many people it was a TBT game that acted as the gateway into the world of games. This is mainly because they dominated the game scene in the 90s, and the genre presented some of the most highly celebrated games: Shining Force and Tactics Ogre: Let us Cling Together in the earlier half of the 90s to name two.
The other main reason is that these games forced players to take a more strategic approach to how they played. You had to think of how to line up attacks and whom the enemy might attack. Such aspects were complicated in games like Shining Force by the number of enemies that you were faced up against and the number of allies that you had to control.
10. Child of Light
- Platform: Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
- Release Date: Apr. 30th, 2014
Child of Light has us following the adventures of Aurora and a diverse group of allies in the dream-like world of Lemuria. Her goal is to make her way back home, which happens to be a completely different world.
Though not as intensively strategic as other entries in this list, Child of Light was a delightful TBT game. Child of Light made an entry when so many games were focused on open-worlds and slashing your way through countless enemies. In this way, it provided a sweet and earnest escape into a more relaxed and beautiful world.
Half platformer, half TBT, and all JRPG; Child of Light is an aesthetically gorgeous and straightforward game. Every aesthetic demonstrates the monstrous attention that Ubisoft put into it. Furthermore, its battle mechanics are flawless and dependent on timing the right move and using the correct item. These are two aspects essential in any TBT game. Though Child of Light doesn’t dive deeply into such mechanics, it has small enough twists to make it refreshing.
9. Chrono Trigger
- Platform: SNES
- Publisher: Square
- Developer: Square
- Release Date: Mar.11th, 1995
Chrono Trigger sends us into a world where it is our goal to stop the end of the world. As Crono ,or any of the six playable characters in the game, we explore the universe, jump through time, and try to uncover how we might reverse the world’s destined destruction.
We all know and love Chrono Trigger. Okay, so some people out there might not have played this legendary game, and there’s only one suggestion to be offered: play it. The story, artwork, characters, and different endings are all amazing. The story in particular was quite revolutionary, with so many different environments, the inclusion of time travel, various missions, and many characters. To put it simply, there really was an entire world to explore in this game and its lore rand deep.
Focusing on real-time turn-based tactics forced players to be active in every moment of the game. You had to understand each character’s wait times, the possible combos available, and what area of effect your attack would have. Oh and let’s not forget understanding the elemental weaknesses/strengths of characters and item customization. This TBT game required the player to act fast if you wanted to win the battle.
8. Suikoden II
- Platform: Playstation
- Publisher: Konami
- Developer: Konami
- Release Date: Aug. 31st, 1999
Suikoden II drops us into a world that is about to go through civil unrest and we are the powder keg to ignite revolution. The MC starts off as a member of the youth brigade under the rule Jowy Atreides. However, fate hands him the Rune of Beginning, which leads him to becoming the leader of the New Alliance Army, an opposing group.
Suikoden is a beloved JRPG series for three primary reasons. To begin, the Suikoden world allowed for the recruitment of 108 possible characters (108 Stars of Destiny), which is a rare and unique feat for a game. This aspect definitely assisted the next reason why the series has such a strong fanbase: its story. The story has a lot of lore built into it and each game dives into some real political intrigue that forces the us into some truly interesting situation.
The third and final reason is that the TBT gameplay was solid and required players to figure out who to use and how to best decimate the enemies lined up. Due to the limited number of characters that you could use within an actual battle, things never became too complex. However, you could never be careless. In the end, if you had to choose one from the series and you can stomach old-school graphics, Suikoden II is the way to go.
7. Bravely Default
- Platform: 3DS
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Silicon Studio
- Release Date: Feb. 7th, 2014
In Bravely Default, we explore the world of Luxendarc through the cast of four unique characters: Tiz, Agnès, Ringabel, and Edea. Together they try to restore the world’s balance after the four elemental crystals have been consumed by darkness.
When Bravely Default came on the scene, people weren’t sure what to expect. At first, it seemed like it might fall under the category of just another Final Fantasy type game. In some regards, the game did share many similarities with the Final Fantasy series. For example, it had a Job system, 24 professions, that the player could specialize in, which is one of the factors that made people go gaga over FF Tactics.
However, slight touches with the artwork, the characters, and the battle mechanics led to a something quite unique and amazing. Theinclusion of Brave Points allowed for players to really develop there own strategies and attack situations in a variety of manners. From there, traditional elements carried the game flawlessly into the category of instant classic.
6. Persona 5
- Platform: PS3, PS4
- Publisher: Atlus
- Developer: Atlus
- Release Date: Sep. 15th, 2016 (Japan) Apr. 4th, 2016 (NA)
Persona 5 takes on modern-day Japan as we romp through Tokyo as the vigilante group “Phantom Thieves of Hearts”. While taking on rather ordinary chores and responsibilities during the day, this group fights in a parallel realm known as the “Palace.” This realm was born from the hearts of the people and is now filled with demons.
The Persona series is so high on this list, because the combat is not the real reason why the game stands out. Yes, it fits in the category of TBT games and you need to be smart. Enemies and allies have weaknesses and strengths that you need to be aware of if you wish to win. There are effects that need to be kept in check and figuring out the best weapons is a must.
However, it’s everything outside of this that makes Persona one of the greatest series out there period. This is why it is included on so many different type of lists. The school life, actually being prepared for tests, choosing a job, filling out your compendium of demons based off mythological figures, making personal connections and finding out the stories of other characters all come together in glorious fashion. Persona 5’s smooth animation, lively characters, and revitalized battle system promise to make it the best of the series. The fact that the enemies are being changed from shadows to actual demons, much like in the SMT line of games, is something quite amazing by itself.
5. Fire Emblem Fates
- Platform: 3DS
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Developer: Intelligent Systems
- Release Date: Feb. 19th, 2016
Fire Emblem Fates splits into three different stories. Fire Emblem Conquest, Fire Emblem Birthright, and Fire Emblem Revelations. In each you take part in a massive war between the kingdoms of Hoshido, where your real family exists, and Nohr, the family that you’ve grown up with.
The Fire Emblem series has been around since the mid-90s and it is not going anywhere. Providing some of the most difficult TBT scenarios for handheld systems, Fire Emblem is a lasting series for a reason.
Positioning is number one in this game. You will also need to be smart about the items that you carry, who will be joining you in battle, and who you pair up with one another. If you’re not careful, then be prepared for defeat. The bonus points for Fire Emblem come with the ability to pair characters up with one another and produce offspring who can then also be paired up with one another. This aspect of the game has earned it numerous fans, especially in Conquest & Fates.
4. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance
- Platform: PS4
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
- Release Date: Oct. 6th, 2015
Void Dark has devastated numerous Netherworlds as any demon emperor should. However, in doing so he’s angered numerous demons. Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance follows Killia as he encounters like-minded demons, who are out for revenged against Void Dark.
If you don’t know the Disgaea series then you have not explored the endless depth that TBT games can provide. A third of the game is parody, a third is chaos, and a third is strategy, which rounds out to one amazing game. Disgaea 5 continues the antics that have been set up by its predecessors. Irreverent characters, ridiculous stories, unique combos, and endless customization are available in the newest Disgaea game.
However, Disgaea 5 really takes everything to a whole new level. The amount of enemies that flood the scene and the map options challenge you in entirely new ways. Strategy has always been important, but it’s taken to the extreme. You’re going to have to be creative with how you arrange your characters and how you go about traversing the map. One misplaced character and you can find a battle flipped on its head.
3. Final Fantasy Tactics
- Platform: Playstation
- Publisher: SCEA
- Developer: SquareSoft
- Release Date: Jan. 28th, 1998
Ogre Tactics and Shining Force might have broken ground on isometric maps and creating an RPG-like tactical game, but Final Fantasy Tactics brought the masses to the genre of TBT games. A solid story backed up with unique professions to master made it the perfect mix of difficulty and fun, as you followed around Ramza Beoulve through the many political schemes occurring in the Kingdom of Ivalice that his own family and closest friend were entrenched in.
Choosing a profession, learning skills to use in battle, and revolving around the unique contributions of each profession to create a perfect team was simply enjoyable and provided a fantasy like aspect to the game. Also, the wide appeal of Final Fantasy Tactics paved the way for games that could focus more solely on map layouts, item prospects, and class specialization. In other words, it gave games like Disgaea free range to dive into the complexities of a game that is mostly dependent on positioning and stats, because such a genre now had a huge fanbase.
2. Fallout 2
- Platform: PC
- Publisher: Interplay
- Developer: Black Isle Studios
- Release Date: Sep. 30th, 1998
Fallout 2 takes us to the year 2241. The world is a desert that is currently suffering the worst drought in history. The village elder of Arroyo approaches us, a descendant of the Chosen One, to retrieve a Garden of Eden Creation Kit.
Before Fallout 3 became one of the most beloved ARPGs there was the original set of Fallout games that focused more on tactics then explosions. These ancient games of glory showed how the West would take on the TBT world. Instead of lush fantasy worlds with medieval elements, the West will explore the desolate and dead universe of the future. So that might not have become the sole focus of Western games, but it definitely made an impact.
The lasting influence of the series aside, Fallout 2’s combat mechanics are some of the most analytical and fun to take on. The idea of targeting certain areas of the body in order to slowly and carefully dismantle your opponent was perfected in this second installation from the original (this aspect was so beloved that it’s one of the few things to survive in the new installations). The building of stats, the importance of weapons and armor, the need to have the right equipment are always on the mind. In the end, it’s just an amazing game.
- Platform: PS3, PC
- Publisher: Sega
- Developer: Sega
- Release Date: Nov. 4th, 2008
Valkyria Chronicles is set on the continent of Europa where two superpowers have gone to war. Our story begins when the war encroaches upon the Principality of Gallia. That’s where our heroes Welkin Gunther, Alicia Melchiott, and many more live. Seeing their homes under attack pushes these ordinary people into the military.
Blending third-person shooter into a TBT games mechanics made Valkyria Chronicles one of the most unique and enjoyable games to play. The combat mechanics, which involves having to choose a character pin on a general map of the battlefield and then controlling said character from an over-the-shoulder angle, proved just how interactive strategy games can be.
Scanning the map, deciding where you want to move your players, and choosing the right one for the right task are merely the first decisions you need to make. Once you go into third-person view you might find that your earlier plan needs some on the spot revising as hidden enemies peak out and shoot at your character as you move. Further enforcing critical on-the-field decisions is the fact that each character has limited mobility and action points.
Few games make the order of action as important as Valkyria Chronicles. Do you start with a sniper to scope out the field from afar? Do you use scouts to reveal hidden enemies for the others to take out? Do you steam roll with your tank acting as a shield for your characters? Each aspect of the game’s design pushes forth strategy and player involvement.
Apologies to lovers of Shining Force and Ogre Tactics. They are some of the best TBT games out there, but the special points of these games overlapped a bit too much with FF Tactics, and FF Tactics just happens to have wider appeal. To those wondering where is the Civilization series, then let it be known that a line has been drawn between TBT and TBS games. Civilization falls under TBS and so it felt unfair to put it in this list. All of that aside, these tactical games offer some of the most unique gaming experiences and it would be wise to log in some hours for each of them.