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Review: Mobile RPG Tales of Link & Collab with Brave Frontier

Two years on from my review on Brave Frontier (shameless plug here), it’s kinda lost its shine. What revives it – for me at least – is when new evolution tiers or collaborations are released.

The latest? A crossover event with fellow mobile game Tales of Link, created by Bandai Namco Entertainment. For a limited time, players can obtain special, cross-platform, playable characters, through a series of multiple collaborative in-game events.

Special characters. Cross-platforms. Limited time only. Oh, yesss.
Recognise any "Tales of " characters here?

Best known for its “Tales of” franchise, Bandai Namco’s been in business for 20 years, releasing over 16 million copies of games in over 100 countries, spawning multiple game titles and related media built upon the Tales multiverse. A little like Final Fantasy. Just when you think it’s over…here comes another one.

Given I’m too cheap to shell out money for game consoles, my only understanding of “Tales of” was Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology, released on PlayStation Portable, donated by a kind soul. Beyond that, I’ve watched their anime titles: Tales of the Abyss, Tales of Symphonia and Tales of Vesperia.

In a way, Tales of Link is similar to Radiant Mythology, just developed for the mobile platform. It’s free to download, but offers in-app purchases, as most mobile games do – suck you in, enchant you, and then slowly pick at the numbers of your credit card till there’s nothing left.

It heavily emphasises on crossover appearances of characters from past games in the series, while relying on a tried and tested plot formula. “Oh, great and merciful amnesiac hero, please save us! You’re our only hope! We offer you a whiny sidekick, an overstuffed plush mascot and the rustiest sword in our inventory, and pray you deliver us from evil!

Or, as marketed on Google Play,

TALES OF LINK is set in a world protected by the “Seal of the Holy Shrine.” When the seal to the heavenly world is suddenly broken, the “Seed of Ruin" is unleashed, scattering demons across the land. These demons bring inevitable disaster and threaten to inflict war and suffering on the world, and it’s up to you to stop them!

Jokes aside, Tales of Link is ridiculously enjoyable. So enjoyable that it was almost too good to be true. To make a fair assessment, I played this game for at least a week before writing this review.

It's painfully difficult to swipe and take a screenshot at the same time.

Rather than a turn-based sequence, or a console-style system, you attack via a matching formula. It’s a vicious game of Tic-tac-toe, where you literally “link” characters to perform attacks or healing combos.

It combines a surprisingly idiot-proof gameplay, a low learning curve that even the most baseless of users can appreciate, and stunningly quirky visual designs. The game loads quickly, with little lag time. Given that my phone heats up significantly and drains battery life during high usage, Tales of Link barely raised the temperature – or my temper.

So the smartphon is a holy relic in Tales of Link, huh?
Then again, I've seen people turn very holy when their phone batteries go flat.

The story dialogue is witty (with a good mix of smart one-liners and heavy-handed end-of-the-world moaning), and the anime-style scenes load quickly without making me want to immediately skip it – something that Brave Frontier has never been able to achieve. Honestly, if you commission a storywriter to spend that much effort writing plot dialogues, the least you could do is build a platform where it can be appreciated.

As a current Brave Frontier player, I received this special unit in Tales of Link

The bad: Tales of Link is a very young game. Its international release was in the first quarter of 2016, with an install rate of 100,000 - 500,000 on Android – to compare, Brave Frontier claims to have a download rate of over 30 million. Dedicated or sponsored wikis, if they exist, are woefully inadequate, which makes strategising painful guesswork.

As part of the collaboration, Brave Frontier players will be able to receive Tales of Link characters via vortex dungeons.

Those unfamiliar with the Tales franchise might also not fully appreciate the games, or its characters. Even so, it’s easy enough to pick up. If you’re looking for an RPG game that’s casual enough to pass the time, but won’t drain your brain cell, then Tales of Link might just be for you. Have fun swiping!

Note: the collaboration between Tales of Link and Brave Frontier will end on 26 June.

Written by Edmund

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