Being a Digimon fan is tough, the choices of games to play can be slim-pickings compared to the vast number of games and iterations of Pokemon are out there for all sorts of Nintendo systems and mobile games as well. Even the anime leaves a lot to be desired as a new 2-hour long episode of Digimon Tri only comes once every 5 months or so. But ask and ye shall receive, Bandai Namco has graced IOS and Android phones with a brand new Digimon game, an RPG that harkens back to the old Digimon World days.
Instead of being an augmented reality game like Pokemon Go, which is totally plausible with the concept of Digimon being data-based creatures on the Internet, the game goes back to its roots with having players raise Digimon from their Baby forms until they reach Mega forms and battle them through a myriad of quests, typically 3 waves of enemies and a boss Digimon at the end. Quests can be done either solo or with a friend online. All this is fine and is expected of a full-blown Digimon game, it is the mobile part that hampers the experience and makes this a slightly sub-par game.
The game starts with a pretty lengthy tutorial, the kind of tutorial that acts like you've never played a mobile game before. You'll get your first Digimon, a Tsunomon, that will inevitably evolve into a Gabumon. Your guide in the Digital World, Hina, will also give you two more Digimon, a Tentomon, and a Hawkmon, and you're off to fight your first battle. The game will also go through the pre-requisite "give you rare currency and force you to spend it instantly", to show you what you can do with that sort of currency. Speaking of which, the game has a ton of different kinds of currency and resources for you to build things in your digital hub-world,
The game will also go through the pre-requisite "give you rare currency and force you to spend it instantly", to show you what you can do with that sort of currency. Speaking of which, the game has a ton of different kinds of currency and resources for you to build things in your digital hub-world, digivolve your monsters and try your hand at the gashapon system to earn new Digimon.
There are two ways to receive random Digimon, either with Link Points to get In-Training level Digimon or with Digistones to get Digimon of Rookie level or higher. Digistones are definitely the way to go as there is an event now that will net you an Omnimon or a pretty good Ultimate level Digimon. Digistones are the ones that Hina gives you at the start of the game, though she gives you a good opportunity to get a decent Digimon, you might just get stuck with a poop-slinging Digimon like me.
Battles are pretty simple with all things considered, though Digimon games have never gotten any deeper than the Pokemon games. You take a party of 3 Digimon with Rookie levels and above. All the Digimon have a regular attack and two skills that use AP, skills could be a status effect, a buff, a signature attack or an AOE attack. Though there are elemental weaknesses and advantages, most early battles can be brute forced especially with the Auto-battle switched on, where the game does all the work for you and do all the attacking, a common mechanic found in these sort of mobile games.
A lot of the game requires waiting, with things in the hub world require time to be built, freshly hatched Digimon taking 24 hours to Digivolve or a stamina meter whereby missions will take a large load and once you run out, you can't participate in a quest until you have the right amount of stamina. This can, of course, be sped up with micro-transactions, though it is not needed and doesn't hamper the experience that much.
If you are a Digimon fan, there is nothing more satisfying than building your team with your favorite Digimon across the franchise's history. Once you get a Digimon, you can check its evolution tree and plan accordingly to grind for the necessary resources to Digivolve into the Digimon you want. I manage to get a few of my favorite Champion level Digimon in a team in just a day of playing, so that's not too bad.
Overall, Digimon Links can be an enjoyable experience if you get over the mobile game mechanics that hamper the game. The initial download and subsequent additional in-game downloads of the game take a long time and can be detrimental to your phone data, so playing over wifi is the way to go. The animations and 3D models do look good though, it seems like it was lifted straight off of Digimon Cyber Sleuths on the PS4. Another minor gripe I have with the game is that it uses a straight translation of the Japanese script and doesn't use the American dub's terms and names that most of us might be more used to, like calling the fusion of Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon as Omnimon instead of the Japanese Omegamon.
It is an alright game, though I think the mobile gamification of the Digimon formula can leave a bad taste after. Play this game if you're an avid Digimon fan and in need of a Digimon game on the go. Until then, I'm going to keep grinding for an Omnimon.