The isometric viewpoint seems to lend itself perfectly to the role-playing genre. The 3D angle provided by the parallel projection view in isometric games allows for a unique perspective on the environments that you roam, and also allows for thoughtful tactical gameplay when it comes to combat.
There are a whole host of games that we could have chosen to go in this list, but we’ve whittled it down to 10 for your convenience. Here are the 10 best isometric RPGs of all time.
10. Tower of Time
Tower of Time is a bit of a hidden gem in the isometric RPG world. It doesn’t get nearly as much fanfare as it deserves, and once you start playing you’ll quickly realise how good the game is.
Perhaps it’s main pull is the combat system. Tower of Time uses real-time combat with a slow time system that makes you really think about what your next move should be. The level design is detailed and exploration is rewarding. Take the time to read as much of the story as possible, too, as it becomes very engaging.
Graphically, it struggles to compete with the AAA titles, but it does as good a job as a low-budget indie game can, and it doesn’t detract from the gameplay. Tower of Time is one of the best isometric RPGs that you may not have tried yet.
Encased is a post-apocalyptic RPG a la Fallout. Released in the second half of 2019 by Dark Crystal Games, Encased does a brilliant job of world-building both before and after the apocalyptic incident.
Combat can be a little frustrating initially, but once you get used to how it plays, you quickly get into a rhythm and defeat the AI with your companions. As you can imagine in a barren wasteland, food and water is scarce. There is a food and thirst stat to monitor this, so you need to be mindful of when your character last nourished in order to survive.
All in all, the atmosphere in Encased is superb, the art is stylish, and the story telling is expert. Encased is definitely one of the best isometric RPGs you can play right now.
8. Path of Exile
Path of Exile is still one of the best isometric games of all time, despite first being released in 2013. Granted, it’s quite a complex game, and the multiple layers added over the years can make it hard to grasp for beginners. This shouldn’t deter you, though, there’s still a heck of a lot of gaming value to be had.
Set in a dark fantasy world called Wraeclast, Path of Exile provides a completely free action RPG experience. The devs are particularly forthright about the game being free, too, and on the official website it is declared that it will never be “pay to win”.
When you consider this, the content that you get for a free game is really quite impressive. Gameplay revolves around items, with each pickup offering different perks. You can customize your character to deal heavy damage, swift attacks, poison-laden magic, and a multitude of other things. Indeed, experimenting with different builds is one of the game’s best features, and it’s easy to see why many consider this to be one of the best isometric RPGs of all time.
7. Shadowrun: Hong Kong
I could easily have included any one of the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun games, but in my opinion Hong Kong is the pick of the bunch. Though, if you really want to delve into this cyberpunk sci-fi world, check out our post about the best order to play the Shadowrun games.
Shadowrun started as a tabletop role-playing game back in 1989, and has since transformed into a huge sci-fi franchise with multiple books, video games, and other forms of media.
For me, it’s best asset is its cyberpunk aesthetic, something which Harebrained Schemes seem to master. If you like a world brimming with orcs, cyborgs, high-tech, magic, and guns, Shadowrun: Hong Kong, may be one of the best isometric RPGs for you.
I was originally going to include Pillars of Eternity in this list of the best isometric RPGs, but in the end opted for a subsequent Obsidian game, Tyranny.
This may turn a few heads as, for many, PoE is synonymous with isometric role-playing games. For me, though, Tyranny is a better game in many ways. Tyranny is less intimidating for a start, so if you’re a casual gamer, you’re less likely to get bogged down with the masses of text and slower pace that PoE players will become accustomed to.
The lore and story in Tyranny is engaging if a little thin, but all in all it is a game well worth playing and one to try for people looking for an easier introduction to the genre.
5. Fallout 2
A lot of people only know the Fallout series for their more recent FPS and third-world open world adventure games, but the franchise started out as a turn-based isometric RPG. Fallout 2 showcases the brilliance of this style the best.
As with all games in the series, Fallout 2 doesn’t take itself too seriously and has charm in abundance. Progress in the game is heavily dependent on your skills and stats, combat is tactical and engaging, and the story and lore are delivered expertly. Indeed, many think that Bethesda’s recent Fallout games don’t even hold a candle to Interplay’s earlier offerings.
If you have a limited schedule, you could try it’s shorter predecessor Fallout 1 first, but you won’t miss anything too important if you want to jump straight into the second game first.
4. Baldur’s Gate II
Baldur’s Gate II is widely considered to be one of the best cRPGs of all time. Its predecessor is also right up there with the best, but BG2 feels like a more complete and polished experience than BG1.
The game uses the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition rules and, for beginners at least, this can take some getting used to when you first start playing. But it’s worth getting used to the ruleset in order to enjoy the game.
Baldur’s Gate 2 holds up well in the present day, despite being a 2D isometric game released in 2000. The customization is comprehensive and detailed, NPC characterization is thoughtful and engaging, and the class system allows for some interesting builds to be assembled. Add to this the rich high fantasy setting of the Forgotten Realms, and you’ve got yourself one of the best isometric RPGs of all time.
Baldur’s Gate II certainly feels like one for hardcore RPG gamers, so if you want to jump right into the deep end, I recommend starting here.
3. Divinity: Original Sin II
Without a doubt, Divinity: Original Sin II is one of the best isometric RPGs of recent years, and arguably one of the best games of the past decade, period.
DOS2 gets almost everything right – quirky characters, great atmosphere, good customisation and build possibilities, fantastic audio and voice acting – the list could go on.
Perhaps the biggest pull for DOS2, though, is its incredible player freedom. There are so many different paths and quests that you take that you could complete the game twice in a row and it would feel like a completely unique experience each time. Experimenting with different builds is fun, and it’s likely that you’ll find yourself wanting to try different techniques the better you get at the game. This is one for multiple replays.
2. Planescape: Torment
You can’t talk about the best isometric RPGs without mentioning Planescape. This is a timeless classic that has one of the most engaging and in-depth role-playing games in the entire genre. It’s highly story-driven and is set in a unique fantasy world that immediately sets it apart from others.
Combat takes a backseat in this D&D game, but that’s part of why it’s so good. You can get completely lost in the Planescape multiverse and the world is full to the brim with interesting characters and side plots. The dialog trees allow for some excellent character introspection and, while they may not affect the outcome of the game too much, do an excellent job of keeping players engaged in the story.
There’s not much we can say about Planescape that hasn’t already been said. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. The glowing reviews are correct.
1. Disco Elysium
This might turn a few heads but, for me, Disco Elysium is THE best isometric RPG of all time. It should be noted right off the bat that you have to be in the right mood to play this game, so if you’re more in the mindset of finding a game to play casually you might want to look elsewhere on the list.
If you’re ready to sink your teeth into something with a bit of substance, though, Disco Elysium is the game for you. Played from an isometric view point, this mystery game is a combatless role-playing game that focuses on dialog trees and skill progressions. Improving different attributes will determine how (and how well) you tackle different investigations.
Aesthetically, the game is beautiful and smooth, and the story will have you engrossed from start to finish. If you’re into isometric games, this is one you simply must try.
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Related: 10 Games Like Cyberpunk 2077
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