Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links is a card game that’s going to appeal to newcomers slightly more than it will fans of the traditional Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card games. It’s been refined in a way that makes it simpler, faster, and easier to understand for newbies, leaving old hands feeling a little cold. Given it’ll soak up your phone’s battery life, however, you’ll be pleased that battles are quick to complete.
The game places you in a virtual reality environment where you cross dimensions to hook up with other Duelists, competing with them in order to become the Duel World King or Queen. It’s a simple tale but it gives room to your ability to wander around a few different buildings, each offering their own advantage in some way.
Early on, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links has a wealth of tutorials. It can be fairly intimidating, which isn’t helped by a confusing interface. What does help is being able to visit the Duel School for more information. Elsewhere, you can participate in regular battles, compete with legendary duelists, or fight it out with real players via the PvP arena.
Your time is mostly split between battling and arranging your deck. Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links has a multitude of ways in which you can boost your deck. You can buy booster packs via its shop (and some all too tempting in-app purchases), trade items for rare cards, or customize your deck. As you’d expect from a Yu-Gi-Oh! game, there’s plenty of reason for you to spend hours tweaking your deck.
Mostly though, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links tries its best to be mobile friendly. Duels are designed to last a relatively short amount of time. Turns are brief and relatively few. Notably, you can pack quite a punch with each attack you perform, meaning things change fast. Each battle is conducted via placing monster and trap or magic cards down, with a kind of rock, paper, scissors mentality dictating how things play out. By being relatively brief, you can gain an advantage fairly quickly, but the reverse is also true.
While early battles easily sway in your favor, the difficulty ramps up as you go along. That makes sense, to an extent, but it’s also presumably to encourage you to spend real money. Pay to win is an important principle here, whether you like it or not.
Fortunately, you do have some help on your side. Two different leveling systems co-exist in a bid to help your skills. One is based around experience gains from duels, unlocking new abilities via a form of light RPG system. The other has you completing objectives or missions and invariably unlocking free premium gems for finishing tasks you would have needed to do anyway. It goes some way to discouraging you from spending real money.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links might lack some of the depth of the original, but it’s still a pretty good mobile conversion. By cutting certain elements down, you’ll be able to get more accomplished than you would have before. Experienced fans might feel a little cheated by the briefer experience, but there’s still an impressive amount of depth here. In return, newbies might feel a little intimidated by such depth, but stick with it – there’s a lot to appreciate about Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Links. Its interface might be a bit of a confusing mess, but you’ll eventually adapt and figure things out.