After hitting the Nintendo Switch last year, Yu-Gi-Oh! Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution has finally hit the PS4. Link Evolution acts as an updated version of 2015’s Legacy of the Duelist, adding in new cards and content and changing the ruleset to a more updated version. As a casual fan of the series growing up, I was excited to see how I would view it through an updated lens and with a new way of playing.
Link Evolution is pretty much exactly what you’d expect it to be: a virtual version of the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, and a loving tribute to the anime. It replicates the rules of the card game to a T and it’s easily the most fledged out version to ever be released, with over 1000 cards to pick from. No matter how you look at it, that is an insane number of cards and really ensures that what you’re playing feels like the definitive Yu-Gi-Oh! experience.
What Link Evolution really nails is the gameplay. The game does exactly what it aims to do and recreates the Yu-Gi-Oh! card experience virtually. There’s really nothing else to say about it other than the fact that it copies the rules over pretty perfectly. The only gameplay problems are simple quality of life issues. It would have been nice to be able to undo certain moves in single-player, as I’d often find myself accidentally setting a monster instead of summoning which would essentially waste my turn. It’s not a major issue but it can be annoying the more you play.
Deck-building is another great part of the experience. With so many cards to choose from, the options really do feel limitless and the ability to use your own decks even in story battles means there’s always a reason to be changing things around. Although there is an in-game store to buy the cards from, there are no microtransactions which is a huge relief. Why duplicates exist in a game with so many cards is beyond me though, especially considering there’s no way to sell them on.
More than any other game I’ve played recently, Link Evolution is definitely one for the fans. Although the tutorial is a nice help, you really do need to have a basic understanding of the series to get much enjoyment out of everything. You’re not going to want to go through hundreds of similar card battles if you don’t really know what you’re doing. It can be a little overwhelming trying to take everything in.
There’s also a lot of fan service to be found in the abundance of story battles that you can play through. These take you through all of the important moments of each Yu-Gi-Oh! series. There are about 20 matches per campaign and each one gives you a story breakdown before each battle. They aren’t voiced at all which feels like a missed opportunity, but the density of content here does excuse it somewhat.
Unfortunately, this ties into the biggest problem with Link Evolution: the presentation. Lackluster would be an understatement. It’s essentially just sprites, simple animations, and some repetitive music. The only flashy things are summon animations but that’s about it. This ends up making the game feel a bit budget and bare, which is a shame when so much care and attention has been put into the actual card game itself. Yes, the focus is and should be on the cards and gameplay mechanics, but that doesn’t mean that the presentation should take a hit.
It’s also worth noting that for people that have already played the original Legacy of the Duelist, there might not be much need to pick this up. Link Summoning is a cool feature and the new campaign is a nice addition for the fans but whether or not that and a few rule changes are enough for you to buy it again is going to be up to you. Personally, it felt like a big ask.
The bottom line is this: the gameplay, abundance of cards, and fan service mean that those looking for a virtual Yu-Gi-Oh! card game experience have come to the right place. The overwhelming learning curve and lack of production values means that it’s probably not the best way for newcomers to experience the series though.
Yu-Gi-Oh Legacy of the Duelist Link Evolution review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information, please read our Review Policy.