21 Best RPGs With Pixel Graphics (2024)

Before the delightful world of photo-realistic graphics and an all-too-similar art style, there was pixel art. A time when it didn’t matter if a character looked like three pixels of discernible nothing, and shades of green, red, blue, and yellow were the dominant force.

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Play one of these great RPGs on the train, in a park, or just from the comfort of your own bed.

Games like this still get made today. For some, it’s a stylistic choice; for others, a necessity, usually due to a budget restriction. But whatever the reason, there’s a whole realm of pixel art RPGs that deliver on this beautiful style while also delving into stories crafted for those who value narrative.

Updated July 07, 2024, by Sanyam Jain: No matter how advanced the technology used to design games get, Pixel graphics will always have a special place in every gamer's heart. This is mainly because of the phenomenal stories and world design you can witness with the following games, and we've added some more entries to showcase that!

21 Sea Of Stars

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If there's one word to describe Sea of Stars, it's magical. If you think that's a bit of an overstatement, the game has:

  • Beautiful pixel art, filled with depth and thoughtfully chosen color palettes.
  • Modernized, turn-based mechanics that still manages to capture the essence of retro RPGs.
  • A compelling story with plenty of character arcs and detailed lore.
  • Satisfying and pragmatic navigation systems, allowing you to interact with your environment in different ways.

There are more cool features, of course, but like most games, Sea of Stars is best played without too much prior knowledge, allowing yourself to become completely immersed.

Sea of Stars

Released
August 29, 2023

Developer(s)
Sabotage

Publisher(s)
Sabotage

20 Streets Of Rogue

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If Streets of Rogue dodged your indie game radar, it'll hopefully become a bright, beeping blip after you've learned more about it. While the core gameplay loop is focused on a roguelite experience, it's packed with clever roleplaying mechanics.

You boot up the game, pick from a list of classes, most of which will be unlocked over time, and you get to work clearing levels and main objectives in whatever fashion you see fit.

You can blow up walls, sabotage aspects of the environment, set traps, bribe people, level up, and even get sneaky with cardboard boxes like Snake from Metal Gear Solid.

19 Death Trash

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Death Trash is somewhat like a gritty and raw pixel art version of the Fallout series; that is, if Todd Howard was enamored with the Horror and Cyberpunk genres. Once you've allocated your stats and customized your character, you'll be thrown into an open world with plenty of dialogue choices and roleplaying mechanics.

Both in visuals and the world around you, Death Trash offers a blunt, humorous, and dynamic experience that is sometimes a bit grim and morbid. You should definitely take a chance on this incredibly unique pixel art RPG.

18 Starbound

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Think of Starbound as Terraria or Stardew Valley in space where you can play with up to three friends, and you've got Starbound. There’s a campaign to follow but no right way to play, as it’s down to you to create your own path and choose your impact on the universe.

You can explore mines for their valuable resources, build structures on the planets, and capture rare monsters who can fight beside you in combat — all of this is available solo or multiplayer. Starbound also has a large modding community, with the developers supporting the use of these mods.

21 Best RPGs With Pixel Graphics (6)
Starbound

Starbound propels you into space following an apocalyptic event on Earth. You must land on a strange new planet to initiate craft repairs, before setting off on an adventure across the universe.

17 Hyper Light Drifter

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Hyper Light Drifter is a gem of a game, but what makes it even more unique is its direct influence from developer Alx Preston who was born with congenital heart disease. The continuous hospitalization stemming from Alx's condition inspired pieces of the protagonist.

The protagonist, referred to as The Drifter, has an unspecified terminal illness and travels the Continent hoping to find a cure. As with other RPGs, there’s a whole other combat aspect, but the importance here is the story and how music and colors are used to elevate this.

16 Crosscode

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Very rarely are mute (rather than just silent) characters seen in anything ever. However, as representation continues to propel forward, developers are starting to branch out, and more people are starting to see themselves in various mediums.

In Crosscode, you play as Lea, a girl who has lost the ability to speak. Trying to solve the mystery of why this is, she logs into a game called Crossworlds.

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As you progress, portions of Lea’s life become muddled, and things only get stranger as personas from her past join the narrative.

15 Eastward

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Eastward focuses on the deuteragonists John and Sam, who first meet inside an alien facility. From here, the two stay by each other’s side until the very end of the game, traveling from town to town by use of rails.

But the real winning point here is the combat, bosses, and the connection between the characters, which make the game memorable.

Combat is simple, following a real-time approach instead of the turn-based combat frequently seen in RPGs. Bosses are entertaining to defeat, and the relationship that forms between the leads is a standout of the pixel art genre.

Eastward

Released
September 16, 2021

Developer(s)
Pixpil
Publisher(s)
Chucklefish

14 Moonlighter

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If you’re a fan of soothing games like Stardew Valley, you’re certain to adore Moonlighter. Many of its concepts can be likened to Stardew, although Moonlighter focuses more on dungeon play than its farming equivalent.

You’ll spend your time fighting through endless dungeons while balancing your day job as a shopkeeper, which is more challenging than it seems, as items found in dungeons will then be sold in your store. The balance between the two lives is perfectly executed, offering a little something for everyone.

13 Octopath Traveler

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Octopath Traveler is big on its characters, a fact present from the beginning as you’re thrust into the world of eight travelers, each with a tale to tell. You get to decide which hero to begin the adventure as, so it’s very much leaning into letting you choose how everything plays out.

As a Square Enix project, there’s heavy influence from Final Fantasy and a boatload of enjoyment to be squeezed from the game. The usage of HD-2D graphics is some of the best to come out of modern-day gaming.

Octopath Traveler

Released
July 13, 2018
Developer(s)
Square Enix

Publisher(s)
Nintendo

12 Unsighted

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Fantasy RPGs are created much more than sci-fi ones, so when a great sci-fi RPG comes along with exciting combat and an enthralling story, you have to savor the moment.

Unsighted begins with the protagonist, Alma, waking up in a facility amidst a world ruined by war. The thing is, you and many others don’t have much time left before your life force disappears and offsets the wheel of time.

You’ll have to bring together allies and fight through waves of enemies as you progress through war-torn Arcadia to find a cure for yourself and your loved ones. Time is of the essence.

11 Pokemon Yellow

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With so many Pokemon games available to buy at any given moment, along with the ones fresh out of the woodwork, it’s daunting to know where is the best place to start. Any of them is the correct answer, but an even better starting point is Pokemon Yellow.

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You do what trainers do best, try to catch as many Pokemon as humanely possible. You then use these Pokemon to fight other trainers and come out on top. Of course, not everything is about bragging rights, but bragging rights are pretty neat.

10 Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

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As the name already suggests, Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes is an ultimate strategy game allowing you to recruit up to 100 unique characters for your cause. While you might not be able to use all these heroes for combat, they still have their unique roles that help you manage your own castle.

Yes, you heard it right. Soon after you start playing this game, you'll get your own castle as you attempt to riot against a tyrannical king and take all the control from his hands. While doing that, you get to visit various unique biomes and cities with their unique culture, character personalities, and fish!

9 Undertale

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Undertale rose to prominence in the same year of its release, with much of its success arising from its popularity on YouTube. It’s your typical RPG, except it’s nothing of the sort, because the unique combat system allows you to go the entire game without killing others — you can instead talk your way out of a situation.

Even being over half a decade old at this point, the game has aged exceptionally well and is still just as good as it was in its prime.

Undertale

Developer(s)
Toby Fox

Publisher(s)
Toby Fox , 8-4

Released
September 15, 2015

8 Ultima 7

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The Ultima series is famed for being one of the very first RPGs to solidify the genre; once playing, it's easy to understand why. These games have a lot going for them and are incredibly intuitive when considering their release dates.

In Ultima 7, you play as The Avatar, who is once again thrown into the fire, this time tasked to take down villain The Guardian, a cosmic entity threatening to conquer Britannia. While the movement system is a little outdated today, the story makes it still worthy of a playthrough.

7 Vampire Survivors

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Although there are various RPG elements, Vampire Survivors is a bullet hell arcade game that’s more roguelite than RPG. There also isn’t a significant story but instead stages that repeat the same singular goal.

Every stage asks you to fend off vampires as one of the survivors hence the game's name, and this is how every stage plays out.

It is a fundamental premise but one you might quickly find yourself enthralled in if the gameplay loop turns out to be your kind of thing.

6 Earthbound

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Earthbound, otherwise known as Mother 2 in Japan, is a JRPG following newly-turned teenager Ness as he fights to stop the world from being destroyed by the alien Giygas.

Now, if you’ve been on the gaming mysteries side of the internet, like, ever, you’ll know all about the various fan theories for both Earthbound and Giygas itself.

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Even though many of them were proven false, there’s much more to uncover. In contrast to its dark themes, the vibrancy in the game’s design and battles make Earthbound something you have to play.

5 Final Fantasy 6

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Everyone knows Final Fantasy. Some love it, and some hate it, but one thing you can’t deny is its influence on the gaming industry. For now, let’s talk about 1994’s Final Fantasy 6.

The game follows the actions of a rebel group called the Returners as they work towards preventing the Gestahlian Empire from conquering the world.

The player controls Terra for the story's first half, and Celes for the second half. The battle system is very similar to other early Final Fantasy games, and since 6 is one of the easiest in the series, it’s an excellent one to jump straight into.

There's a fantastic "modern" version of Final Fantasy 6 available on many platforms: Final Fantasy 6 Pixel Remaster. Like the Pixel Remasters for the five FFs before it, this version does a fine job bringing a bit of an HD makeover while retaining the delightfully charming style of the game.

4 Stardew Valley

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Stardew Valley is the definition of a chill-out game, the kind of thing you can play to calm yourself down through myriad activities your farmer can do.

You can spend the day fishing, mining, exploring the mines, foraging, making your own produce, and hanging out with friends. You can do whatever you want.

And the best part about it is, while there is a goal to strive towards, this is never forced upon you, and you can take your sweet time — in-game years even — before you work towards completion.

Stardew Valley

Released
February 26, 2016

Developer(s)
ConcernedApe

Publisher(s)
ConcernedApe

3 Omori

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Omori is a game you must play yourself to enjoy, so we won’t discuss significant spoilers here. All you need to know is that it’s an RPG following a young boy and his path to overcome his fears, with the experience wrapped up into one sprawling adventure.

Omori sets off slow and follows this steady momentum for most of its runtime, so it's something you’ll have to find patience in. It also doesn't primarily focus on the role-playing elements and is much more attuned to its story's simplicity and heartfelt nature.

2 Octopath Traveler 2

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Take everything we've said about the first Octopath Traveler 2, and amplify it in the best possible ways for its 2023 sequel. This game is something special. It refines the eight-story system of its predecessor while giving everyone a shared conclusion that ties it all together in a way the first game just couldn't achieve.

The battle system is deeper, the music's even more eclectic, and - true to the point of this list - the pixel art is ever more refined. Octopath Traveler 2 is Square Enix's new gold standard on throwback RPGs.

Octopath Traveler 2

Released
February 24, 2023
Developer(s)
Square Enix , Acquire
Publisher(s)
Square Enix
21 Best RPGs With Pixel Graphics (2024)
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