When talking about card games, Yu-Gi-Oh is among the legends of the genre. In fact, sales-wise, it’s probably number 1.
Originally started in the early 2000s, Konami decided about a decade and a half later that they would create a valid online game where you can play, albeit with some differences. And so, Duel Links was created. But is Duel Links as good as the physical game? Is it worth it? Let’s find out in this review.
As per usual, this review will have a Storyline, Gameplay, Visuals, and finally, a Final Thoughts section. Without further ado:
There is a whole movie that predates the game and I recommend watching it if you are a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh and haven’t. It’s called Dark Side of Dimensions.
Anyway, Seto Kaiba, the world’s leading genius in all things gaming, has created a virtual world called Duel Links, where duelists from various timelines can go and compete. Naturally, this attracts various legendary duelists from all the shows.
Duel Links is separated in different worlds depending on the era, so duelists from the original Duel Monsters era won’t ever meet up with any from other eras. Each world has its own little story going on.
Let’s start with the basics. Even if you are a long-time fan and player of the physical card game, it may take you a while to get used to the limitations of the game.
And by limitations I mean the zones. While every Yu-Gi-Oh player and their mother know that Yu-Gi-Oh has 5 monster zones and 5 Spell/Trap card zones (plus Field Spells, Extra Deck, Graveyard and Deck slots), Duel Links has 3 instead.
The difference might not seem so big, but it kinda is. Especially if you think that an equip or continuous Spell, or any continuous Trap Card stay there until removed. If you’re not careful, you’re gonna run out of space!
There is also the limitation of cards. What I mean is, that a deck is half the size of the normal game (20-30 cards). The extra deck is less than half, with just 6 cards.
The banlist is also different in format.
In the physical game, there are Banned cards which are not allowed to be used in any official match, Limited cards, with every copy allowed once, and Semi-Limited, with every copy allowed up to twice.
In Duel Links, there still are Banned cards. But instead of Limited and Semi-Limited there are the “Limited 1” cards, “Limited 2” and “Limited 3” cards. that means that you can have only 1 card from the entire “Limited 1” list, not 1 of each card you choose. Similarly, you can have any 2 or 3 cards from the “Limited 2” or “Limited 3” lists respectively.
Other than that the rules are exactly the same as the physical game .
I’d explain them to players who don’t know about Yu-Gi-Oh, but I think playing the (free) tutorial does much better than reading about it.
Now there is also a brand new addition. The legendary Duelists I mentioned are not all show. They each have their own abilities (some of them unique) that are geared toward building specific decks. This means that instead of just refining your deck, you also have to find the best ability to use alongside.
To get skills and unlock new characters you just have to play the game and do various missions against the AI.
A main concern you might have is that like Yu-Gi-Oh, there is a certain amount of money you will need to spend, and it might not matter due to powercreep.
Fortunately, it seems Konami has this covered. The limited zones, and the banlist format certainly keep things fairly balanced, with nothing too oppressive existing, at least no more than a period between banlist changes.
The game also has many events, with at least 1 running at all times. They can give you new cards, rewards like Gold, Gems and most importantly, new characters.
If you miss a new character though it can be problematic, as the event will cycle back many months after.
In terms of P2P or P2W, while it does make your life easier to spend money (it’s a card game after all), you don’t have to. Just know that as a F2P player, you’re gonna spend some time collecting key cards and leveling up key characters. But once you’ve created a good initial collection, you’ll be ready to go to the competitive side and play against other players. It IS a collecting card game after all…
The visuals are actually pretty nice, great enough to keep you entertained, but not too heavy. Each character’s Signature Monster(s) will have its unique animation.
SFX wise, every character has his own plethora of lines for practically every move they make, as well as some taunts, and some exclusive lines to each character. It really adds to the flavor of the game. You can have their voices be Japananese or English, and that doesn’t affect text language.
You can also get various playmats and card sleeves, and surprisingly, you can get them for free for the most part.
The game is quite good. As a matter of fact, I’m gonna stick my neck out and say that it can be much more enjoyable than the physical game.
I mean let’s face it, the physical game requires a continuous investment due to powercreep and sometimes the banlist hammer.
This game is much more balanced as you can see from its many top decks, and new releases don’t automatically shaft older cards 9/10 times.
Plus, you can play from the comfort of your own home with people from all over the world.
And the added bonus of being able to play with characters that you like.
To be honest with you, it seems to me that Duel Links is Konami’s attempt to rebalance the game from the ground up.
That said, the game is not without its negatives.
For example, it can be quite punishing to take a break and not play, as you may miss many important events and by extension characters that could define the next meta-game.
Of course, the F2P progression can be slow at times, and most importantly tedious.
In fact, most of the game gets tedious if you’re not building decks or playing against players.
General Rating: 8.5
That’s it for my review. Do you like Duel Links. And the million dollar question; do you think that Duel Links is more balanced/fun and overall better than the physical game? Leave a comment below.
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