I’ve never really been a huge fan of the Tales series, but I’ve always been aware of it. For example, Tales of Symphonia stood out to me because of its amazing four-player co-op mode, which was a huge deal at the time. For those who don’t know, The Tales series is a franchise of JRPGs (Japanese RPGs) with an emphasis on an anime-esque art style and fun combat. With Tales of Link, this formula is altered a bit due to a chibi art style and simplified gameplay, but is it still enjoyable?
As with most of the other games in the series, Tales of Link was developed by Bandai Namco. Unlike the other games in the Tales series, however, this is an Android RPG with puzzle elements rather than an action RPG. Fortunately, this is a case where “different” does not mean “worse.” You won’t be running around and slashing monsters, but you’ll still be engaged in some fun combat.
Gameplay mainly consists of linking together colored characters on a 3×3 grid. For example, if there are three red heroes on the board, you can drag a line over all three of them to unleash a fiery combination attack on the enemy. This is especially satisfying when you link a high number of characters together, resulting in you absolutely walloping the enemy. Because Tales of Link counts down the enemies’ turns on a timer, you have to employ a bit of strategy when deciding which element you want to attack with first and which to save for later. This makes the gameplay deeper than expected and saves the game from being a simple match-3 puzzler.
Aside from some techniques (such as buffs or healing) that can be activated with points, that is essentially the extent of Tales of Link‘s gameplay. Everything else in this game follows a strict formula, one that is prevalent in games like Monster Strike and Dragon Ball Z: Dokkan Battle. Anyone who has played either of those games will likely have deja vu upon starting this one. The similarities include login bonuses, buying characters, using friends as allies, fusing weapons, training characters, and obnoxiously long tutorials. However, just because Bandai Namco pretty much plugged a bunch of elements from the Tales series into a tried-and-true formula doesn’t make the game bad.
If you’re a fan of the Tales series, the presentation will definitely appeal to you. The style is also great if you’re a fan of anime. Even though Tales of Link conforms to an established formula, the series’ art style elevates the aesthetic of the menu and cutscenes, and it makes everything look nice and sleek. It‘s very appealing when you’re admiring the art as a whole, but it’s a different story when you actually have to navigate the menus.
For all of its simple fun and nice aesthetic, Tales of Link‘s user interface is much more complicated than most players are willing to care about. The aforementioned tutorial is absolutely brutal, being way too long and way too complex. It’s incredible if you want to dive deep into customization and team-building, but the gameplay is too simple to justify the layers and layers of options. The great thing is that you can ignore everything and just link the colors together. Sure, you’ll probably get stuck later on due to the lack of tweaking your team, but it’s a casual free-to-play game, so moving on wouldn’t be an issue. Tales of Link is a bit too busy, but there’s plenty of fun to be had with it, especially for Tales fans.
Is it Hardcore?
The menus and customization options can be a bit much, but the gameplay makes up for it.