DigimonLinks Is Freemium At Its Worst

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Real Time Strategy
Digimon Links
DigimonLinks brings Farmville to the digital world. Bandai-Namco

DigimonLinks is another freemium mobile game ruined by greedy developers. Released by Bandai Namco for iOS and Android, you travel to the Virtual World, manage a farm, train a team of Digimon with food and win fights. DigimonLinks attempts to build on the extremely successful — and one of my favorite games of all time — Digimon Cyber Sleuth, but gets bogged down with in-app purchases and grindy game play.

Digimon, the franchise every edgy ‘90s kid declared a Pokemon ripoff, is one of my favorite pieces of childhood nostalgia. There’s something about the Virtual World, full of sentient gears and rivers made of data, that captured my imagination. My love for the IP goes way further than just the show; I’ve played every game released in the west, logged over 999 hours into Digimon World 2 on the original PlayStation and uncountable days into Digimon Masters Online. The best is Digimon Cyber Sleuth, an RPG that combines the 3v3 combat of DW2 with modern JRPG fittings like a deep story and Digivolutions that feel worth the investment.

Following after Digimon Heroes, the new DigimonLinks is the second attempt to bring the franchise to its logical endpoint: inside a cell phone. Building a farm, feeding your Digimon and the actual combat feels great. You can digivolve nearly every monster from the show: from Tentomon all the way to SaberLeomon. The Digimon themselves look amazing, with fully rendered attacks taken from Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth - Hacker's Memory , the Japan-exclusive sequel to Cyber Sleuth. However, earning Digimon in DigimonLinks can be a little more complicated and it’s where the game really starts to falter.

Link Points, which can be earned fairly easily by completing missions, allows you to take a whirl on the random generator and earn a Baby or In-Training monster that can be Digivolved at the Garden in 24 to 36 hours. For Rookies to Megas, you’re going to have to spend 20 Digistones, the game’s main currency. If you want to continue a fight you’ve lost, speed up the Digivolution process or capture Digimon, you’re going to have to spend that sweet currency too. And if you want a specific Digimon or anything with power in the late-game, you’re going to have to take a whirl on that gachapon machine. Like every freemium game, Digistones can be earned by playing, but 24 Digistones can be purchased for $4 in the real-world, which means each spin on the gachapon costs more than a bacon, egg and cheese on the corner.   

When you finally get the Digimon of your dreams, it’s time to upgrade. Missions allow you to earn Fuel, which can be spent to digivolve. Every element requires a different fuel, forcing you to grind these fights over and over until you have enough to move to the next rank and do it all over again. These Daily Missions switch out elements every day, so if you didn’t have enough time to earn 17 “Null Plugin ver4.0” you have to wait until next week.

Once you hit Ultimate, you’ll require seven Fragments for the specific Mega you want, which are earned in Advent Quests. Since you have a set amount of Stamina, a resource meter that fills up over time, that is spent to play these missions, you must either wait to open the app every hour or spend Digistones for the Stamina to replenish.

Once you have a Mega, the end-game starts. Chips -another complicated add-on to increase the end-game-  can be bought or earned in special events, Legacy abilities can be improved or swapped and Research combines two of your precious digital buddies into one that’s slightly stronger.

Out of all the predatory freemium apps on the market place, Digimon Links left me feeling the worst. I know Bandai-Namco needs to make money off the franchise and mobile games are all the rage, but the amount of cash you have to put into this to be successful is bewildering. I spent 17 dollars on a “starter pack” that had 100 Digistones and one Mega of my choosing. That’s five spins on a wheel that is most likely full of useless Rookies and Champions. I’ve spent hundreds of my hard-earned dollars on Puzzles and Dragons and Hearthstone, yet I’ve always felt I got a fair value, even when the luck gods were out to lunch or mocking me. DigimonLinks is a straight rip-off.

DigimonLinks has promise, but it’s squandered by a greedy free-to-play system. The developers obviously put a lot of time into making the game look and run great, but that’s sadly not enough to cover up the game’s real problems. If you want a mobile game that’s new and base doff an IP of your childhood, South Park: Phone Destroyer is way more fun and doesn’t have to suck your wallet dry.

Freemium At Its Worst
DigimonLinks has promise, but it’s squandered by a greedy free-to-play system
  • 90's nostalgia
  • aggressive in-app purchases
  • grindy gameplay
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