(I couldn’t think up a good headline to save my life :)
Welcome Time Wasters!
For the first time in a long while, I found myself incredibly excited for a smartphone game. That’s because my spare time this week went to Digimon Links. I grew up in the 90s and Digimon was big among my friends. It still is today with the new Adventure Tri movies that are coming out. However, I’ve not been able to get into the games lately due to my choice is gaming platforms. I’ve reached a point where I only really play new games for PC and the latest Nintendo console. Nothing against PlayStation and Xbox, but the two consoles just aren’t worth it for me. Unfortunately, this does mean that there are some games that I miss out on. This includes basically all of the new Digimon games.
I went into Digimon Links hoping that it would quench my thirst for a franchise that I still love as an adult. I can honestly say that this game does that for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to overlook its negative qualities. Instead, let’s just focus on the good for now.
Digimon Links drops players into the digital world and immediately teams them up with their Digimon partner. The first one is always an Aguman, which is a staple character from the series. The game just came out this week and is also showering players with other Digimon to get them started. This includes a Metal Greymon and a few others. The selection of Digimon in the game is quite large too. Sure, not every Digimon is available, but I’m willing to bet that most of the fan favorites made it into the game.
The gameplay in Digimon Links is that of a turn-based RPG. That’s right up my alley and it’s a genre that translates well to mobile devices. The game allows players to bring up to three Digimon with them at a time. These Digimon will battle other teams that can have between one and three Digimon in them. Each Digimon also have their own sets of skills that they can use in combat. Skills require AP to use and Digimon each get one at the start of a turn. Basic attacks require no AP, but aren’t as powerful. There is also an autobattle and 2X speed option to make these go by quicker.
Players complete quests in Digimon Links to gain experience and other items that they will need to strengthen their digital companions. When a Digimon reaches its max level, players can Digivolve it to the next stage. For those unfamiliar with the franchise, there are four stages that are worth noting: Rookie, Champion, Ultimate and Mega. There are also some Mega level Digimon that can become even more powerful with an additional Digivolution.
Fans of the series are probably wondering about the Baby and Fresh level Digimon. Those are still in Digimon Links, but they won’t be taking part in battles. The game instead has players leave them in a garden to grow. After spending several hours there, these Digimon will be able to Digivolve. Once they hit the Rookie level, players can really start figuring out what they want to do with them.
Digivolution in Digimon Links provides players with a lot of options. Outside of the Baby and Fresh stages, players can choose how their Digimon will Digivolve. Most Digimon in the game have a variety of different paths that they can go down. This means that players could end up with two different Mega level Digimon from the same Rookie. It’s also not incredibly hard to obtain the materials for Digivolution. I already have a few Digimon at the Ultimate level via Digivolution and I’ve only been putting a little bit of time into the game daily.
While the main focus of Digimon Links is raising the virtual pets, there are other elements to the game. This includes the farm that the player runs. This area contains several buildings that the player can use to their advantage when raising Digimon. This includes a dojo, meat farm restaurant and more. Players can also customize and visit each others’ farms. Upgrading buildings gives better benefits and this requires both time and money, but the prices aren’t too steep.
Another positive for Digimon Links is the graphics. The game looks great. The Digimon are all represented by incredibly detailed 3D models and there are plenty of special animations for skills. It’s a great presentation that feels closer to something I’d see on a console, rather than a smartphone. I will mention that there was some lag and framerate issues for me, but I am playing on an older devices.
The first part of Digimon Links that really sticks out as a negative is the audio. The game uses rave music for battles and the title screen. It really feels out of place with the rest of the game, but at least the farm music is okay. The sound effects also don’t matter much. They aren’t bad, but they aren’t really good, either.
Another part of Digimon Links that doesn’t sit well with me is how jumbled the game is. There are loads of extra feature built into the game that feel really out of place. For example, players can better optimize their Digimon to make them stronger. That sounds fine until you realize just how much goes into this. Players can increase resistances of a Digimon by combining it with other Digimon and using Digivolution fuels.
They can also add chips to the Digimon. However, these chips can only be removed by conducting research. There are also leader abilities that certain Digimon get. Players can choose to pass these on to others by sacrificing the Digimon that has it, but only once it has reached it Mega level. Some Digimon also have special skills that can be passed on via sacrifice, but the transfer doesn’t always take. This leaves the player with no new skill and one Digimon gone.
This is just a small taste of the extra bits to Digimon Links that make it feel bloated. There’s also a load of different quests that are arbitrary nonsense, a coliseum that doesn’t appear to work yet and more. I could probably add another 1,000 words to this review just talking about all of this, but that would bore us both to death.
Moving on to the last real negative about Digimon Links. It has in-app purchases. These in-app purchases include Digistones that players can use for just about everything. This includes upgrading the farm faster, getting Digivolution materials, summoning new Digimon and more. If the coliseum is for multiplayer battles, as I suspect, then I can’t help but worry that this will lead to pay-to-win issues with the game. It isn’t really too bad otherwise, but microtransactions will always leave a bad taste in my mouth.
Overall, Digimon Links is a solid mobile game. It takes what any other mobile RPG does and adds in Digimon. The game is somewhat generous with Digistones and obtaining requirements for Digivolution isn’t too much of a grind. It does have its flaws and I can’t help but think that its bloated nature is the most glaring one. Needless to say, this game is really for Digimon fans and them alone. Without the connection to the franchise, I can’t really recommend it.
Digimon Links earns 3.5 GiN Gems out of 5!