Dungeon Link [Free] is a clever game: it combines line-drawing puzzles, where you have to connect different sets of dots with lines that don't intersect, and makes it into an RPG battling system. Characters have different attacks and do more damage the longer their lines are, and the more they run over and by enemies. You can level up, combine, and evolve your characters, just like many free-to-play social RPGs, but the puzzle gameplay is the real hook here. Once auto-battling gets involved and the concept of the game just proves to be something you can just ditch entirely, then a lot of the charm that Dungeon Link first has goes away.

Each level that you play has a bunch of enemies, and you just draw lines from dot to dot, with those being the starting and ending points for your characters' paths. There are many considerations to take into mind: if a character has a close-range attack, you may want to run over enemies. If they have a horizontal laser beam attack, then a path that hits multiple enemies is a good plan. Additionally, you can pick up power-ups, and do more damage by doing chains from one color dot to another. Getting a "perfect" attack where all squares are used is a great idea, as it unleashes a powerful attack on all enemies, and it's more powerful based on the longer chain that you get. Plus, each character has a special attack that can be charged up and deployed. Yet, the battles are simple and you get the gist of them right away. It's that clever fusion of RPGs and puzzle gameplay that intrigued me, and the game continues to throw new wrinkles into the formula while keeping the core gameplay simple enough.

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The meta-game is familiar to those who have played social RPGs. You have characters of different star levels, with the ability to combine and evolve characters. You can get new ones through quests, through lottery systems, and by completing myriad quests. This system is pretty standard for social RPGs, but it forms the bulk of what will keep you hooked long-term. Getting that powerful team full of characters, with different fantasy creatures and plenty of cleavage-bearing women? It's not reinventing the wheel with Asian social RPGs. The line-drawing stuff is clever, but it's the fuel to a familiar structure.

Still, there's nothing bad with familiarity. I like the line-drawing combat, the game has great production values, and there's loads of stuff to do beyond just the main progression. And hey, the social RPG formula is a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." You can make friends, give them swords (the energy to play levels), and get rewards. If you've played one, you've played them all, but here's another!

Dungeon Link Review 4Dungeon Link has an auto-battling function, and I am kind of not a fan of it. The problem is that it's the most ideal way to battle, as it always finds the way to make a perfect play where all squares are used. Maybe it's not the best for using chains, but it's quite possible that any weaknesses from using auto-battling are made up in the mistakes that you might make while playing and making your own decisions. It's the driverless car situation: the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.

This is where the game kind of falls apart. The line-drawing is the the thing that makes this stand out from other social RPGs. When you make it so that the unique part of the combat is to your disadvantage to actually play with, then what's the point? It kind of ruined the game for me. I cared about the character-raising because it was part and parcel with the gameplay system I was enamored by. Take one half of the equation away, and I don't see myself continuing to play this after this review.

I will say that if you're a fan more of the social RPG stuff, then you may just still enjoy Dungeon Link. It's not a bad system. Enhancing characters requires using other characters as materials, and there's a chance the enhancement might not succeed, but it then increases future chances, which is fair enough to me. This is the kind of game that if you get hooked to, you'll probably be spending a decent amount of money. But there are frequent deals, including valuable specials for the week you start, with regular offers available too.

The premium currency is handed out with regularity, too: there's a guy on the screen that hands out 5 gems per hour, and completing objectives will get you gems. I spent $5 early on and got a lot of value out of it. Heck, the swords are difficult to run out of, especially if you make friends who give them to you. There's so many opportunities to get things that need premium currency that I can't complain about the monetization one bit. It's involved, but aimed toward the most dedicated players. You can get plenty of fun for little or no cost.

And there's a ton of stuff to do. The regular dungeon progression requires that you replay earlier levels, but the randomness in level layouts means that they are usually fresh; the differences in the myriad rewards is why you'll replay them. Plus, there are later difficulties with better rewards. Then, you have the daily dungeons, which feature special items you need to evolve some characters. There's a tower with ever-harder monsters and ever-greater rewards. There are raid bosses where you can fight them multiple times to do more damage and to get better rewards. With daily quests, timed rewards, and even PVP battles that unlock, there's always something to do.

So, it just depends on how much the auto-battling option would bother you or not. Do you like having the option to not play the game, perhaps to your benefit? Do you prefer having a social RPG, and the method for doing so is secondary to you? Then Dungeon Link is for you, and it will give you plenty of ways to build up an army of powerful characters that you can say you have. The game marginalizes its one clever hook, but it's still clever! And I think that long-term, I can see auto-battling being useful for most people. I just can't get around that it exists and sinks a game I otherwise really enjoyed.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Misguided

    Auto-battling isn't remotely ideal, actually. This becomes increasingly true the further in the game you get.

  • cymsdale

    I agree with this review. The game was fun until auto battle. It gets so grindy that auto battle is too tempting to speed it up, and then you are not really playing it anymore.

  • Menezesmaia

    Disagree. I had the same prejudice about the auto-battle, but when you play regularity, you notice that auto-battle is a good system for grind, only. And in this game you have a lot of grind. People now that too much grind is boring. Auto-battle balance the game to not have this level of nuisance.

    Later in the game, you have to optimize the chains, and the auto-Battle is very imprecise. In PVP mode and raid boss is necessary to have talent to have good results, and auto-battle is useless.

    Who is playing Dungeon Link realize that the game is more than the usual social games you have in apple/Google store. A nice game. Give a chance, guys.

    • Andre Fairchild

      therein lies the problem, lots of grind. why not just remove the grind and make it enjoyable?

      but then again thats how these freemium apps get money anyway.

  • nonstickron

    I have been scratching my head concerning auto battle games for a long time now. I've deleted several decent games because of it. They're designed with that auto battle grinding in mind so ignoring it will be just making the game progression frustratingly slow.

    I really was excited by the line drawing aspect, it brings the pathpix art/puzzle games to mind, which I enjoyed the crap out of. But I just couldn't swallow the auto battle combined with the absolutely ludicrous install size for this kind of game.

    • http://toucharcade.com Eli Hodapp

      Auto-battle is such a weird feature because in the western market we look at this kind of thing as "Wait, why wouldn't I want to play the game instead of just putting it on autopilot?" Meanwhile, in Asian gaming cultures, if you don't have auto-battle, forget about it. I've really yet to see a game that manages to bridge that divide very well.

      • Misguided

        The thing is, auto-battle is useful if you are leveling a new character or grinding event currency on the same stage over and over. However, you're only going to be able to reliably complete a stage on auto if you can beat it comfortable playing normally. So, it isn't something you would use when pushing ahead through content you haven't already beaten. Does that make sense?

      • Tonk Montana

        Marvel: Future Fight does a good job IMO.

  • bleeps

    I think auto-battling hasn't been accurately assessed in this article. It only really works when most of your party can carry a member that you are leveling up through content you've completed.

    Starting in the mid portion of the game, auto-battle doesn't make optimal use of chains or special abilities. Specifically, it fires them as soon as they are available rather than evaluating whether or not to wait for the next stage.

    As far as F2P games go, this is one of the most generous I've played. I've not spent a dime and yet I've not run into a situation where I've had to wait for swords to refill.

    • Andre Fairchild

      wait til you hit a paywall. where you have to grind to evolve heroes/ find better heroes because everything is simply too hard no matter how perfect you play.

      • Misguided

        There are definitely places where the difficulty jumps and they can be unforgiving. Criticizing those is fair, but calling them paywalls is a misnomer implying you must spend money to get past them, which is definitely not the case.

      • bleeps

        The paywall boogie man... Grind is a given in these types of games. I'm saying that, relatively speaking, this game is a lot more generous with the in-game currencies than other F2P games. Once I was able to fill up my friends list, I've not dropped below a hundred swords. Granted, he double gold event may be spoiling my perception right now. Still, it feels like I've always got some worthwhile goal to chase even if my team isn't powerful enough yet to climb the main progression.

      • Andre Fairchild

        for most "paywall" games, grind is a given. like... grind / wait a month or just pay to (maybe) win now.
        granted this game is a bit more lenient when it comes to that. but we would still hit a wall

  • spawn12345

    Auto battle is a must in games like these. Without auto battle I dont play em because then its just a big boring grind like DH5 is.

  • Mike Walko

    I liked this game at first, but my interest ground to a halt when I needed to start making 5 and 6 star characters.

    • Andre Fairchild

      thank you, finally someone who understand what i mean by paywall

      • Tanshui

        we have very different definition of paywalls then. I play 20 minutes in the morning and 1-2 hours at night, and I'm making a 6 star about every 2 days (started global launch, currently have 6 6-stars and 11 5-stars). There was a weekend I played a lot to use up all my swords, but I don't consider myself hardcore or anything. This game does not have a paywall to me - I define paywall as 'you have to pay or wait an extremely unreasonable amount of time to progress'. If you follow Channel 1 or the official forum or even reddit you will see plenty of people who are quite far in the game who is purely F2P. I know paywall exist in games, and I hate them too. But there is not one in here thus far.

      • Andre Fairchild

        for me its "you have to pay or wait/ grind an extremely ungodly amount of the old-repeated content just to progress"

        which in this game, you have to grind the old levels over and over and over and over and over til you get a 5-6* unit with full 5-6* runes. so you can progress a couple new levels.

        the puzzles can only be enjoyable so much, and the auto-attack makes it easier, yes. but the problem is in the paywall-grind

  • Roleki

    The root of the problem, as I see it, is that any game designed with the two objectives of making the best gameplay and making the most money will inevitably fail to achieve either.

Dungeon Link Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3.5