The gameplay is closer to something like Disgaea or Tactics games. You have up to 6 units, each has only one Pokemon with one move, and two abilities: one specific to the warlord and one specific to the Pokemon.
Of course the attack determines the range and type, and there is where the Pokemon part comes in (whereas in other Tactics games strengths and weaknesses are based on weapons, here it’s on the attack type vs. the opponent’s Pokemon type). The terrain comes into play as well; some Pokemon evade attacks more often in their favorite terrain, etc.
Each warlord can carry a certain number of Pokemon, but there is ONE Pokemon out there (out of only about 200, thankfully) for every different warlord where they can reach the highest strength with. It’s based on something called a Link, and experience is given in link %, but you can only get 100% link with a certain Pokemon for each warlord. So to go into battle in the fire castle of Ignis, you’ll need to find people carrying water Pokemon, or find warlord that like Water Pokemon more and get them to befriend (link with) a water Pokemon and battle with it to strengthen it.
The higher the link, the stronger the Pokemon and the better that one Pokemon’s move becomes.
It’s certainly the best Pokemon spinoff I’ve ever played.