If you have not heard all the hype about Bravely Default, the newest Turn-Based RPG for the 3DS, you must be living under a rock. Created by Square Enix, this game takes us back to the traditional charm of the JRPG, while still offering new features that keep the game fresh and you wanting more.
Bravely Default follows four protagonists: Tiz, a humble shepherd, Agnes, the vestal of the wind, Edea, a member of the Eternian army who has a strong sense of justice and what is right, and Ringabel, the playboy struck with amnesia but who carries his special journal that can predict the future. They embark on a treacherous journey to restore order to the world after a cataclysmic event has devoured Tiz’s hometown and cast the world into darkness. It is up to them to get the four crystals of the elements and restore them back to their former power to save the world.
Before we continue on, let’s just get what we all already know out of the way. The story is extremely similar to that of the older games in the Final Fantasy genre, but honestly, I am okay with that. The story does have its moments that are very surprising and sometimes dark. The villains have substance to them and death is something that is not taken lightly.
This game also features full voice acting(on the 3ds!). I know, it is quite impressive and, actually, the voice acting is quite good. The only issue is that the dialogue is written and executed in way that seems a little bit… What’s the word? Off.
The game has a very in-depth Turn Based Battle System, with many new elements that give the game a traditional style, while still bringing some new flare that keeps it fresh. This is mainly achieved with the Brave and Default systems. By using Default, you can store what are called Battle Points (BP) and your turn is basically taken as if you chose to defend yourself rather than attack. You can store up to three BP at any given time. Then comes in the Brave system. This allows you to use your BP points to attack more than once in your given turn. If you have stored up your three BP, you can then spend them and attack four times in a row to give yourself a chance to really put the hurt on your enemies. You can also use Brave without storing BP, but this runs a much larger risk due to the fact that if you do not kill the enemy you will have to wait until your BP regenerates to be able to make another move.
These two simple elements have added a whole new depth and strategy to the battle system, which has made for an extremely fun experience. There is also the Bravely Second option. Bravely Second uses Sleep Points(SP) to give you the opportunity to take an immediate action rather than wait for your turn. It is a great way to keep your party alive if you need to heal or maybe even to use if you have something unexpected happen in battle. Sleep Points are something that you can earn by leaving your 3DS on the game in sleep mode. Eight hours in sleep mode will earn one SP and you can collect up to three at any given time. You also have the option to purchase SP with real cash and sometimes it feels as though the game pushes a little bit too much for you to purchase them with real money instead of in-game cash.
Are we done talking about the battle system of the game? Of course not, there are still special attacks. Each weapon class has it’s own special attack that can be used in battle if you meet a certain criteria ahead of time. These attacks can be used to inflict more damage or to even heal up your party. One of the cool features of the special attack is that it gives you special buffs for a certain period of time that affect all members of your party. If you link up special attacks before the time runs out, you can actually stack buffs and they will last for the duration of the second special attack. It’s just one more way to add even more strategy to the battle system.
Also, you have the job system, in which you can choose different job classes with all different abilities for each member of your party. This customization let’s you really try to find what kind of party best fits your style of play.
Finally, there is the summon friend ability. You can gather friends using an internet connection, streetpass, or even use your own friends who own the game. You can summon them into the game and use their own special attacks to help you get through battle. You can only summon each friend once a day, so use them wisely, but this just shows the amount of depth and time the developers have put into this game.
Now, let’s move on from the Battle System. Speaking of friends and using them to your advantage, there is still more that you can do with them now that you have collected them from all over the world. One feature of the game is that you will rebuild Tiz’s hometown of Norende as a little side job. This can be done while still progressing through the game as it is a process that is done in the background. You gather townspeople by gathering friends over the internet and streetpass.
The more workers you have, the faster you can get tasks done when it comes to clearing paths and building shops. Both of these tasks can take several real-time hours, so it is good to put a few people on each job to bring the total time down. All of this can also be done while the 3DS is in sleep mode. These shops can give you some extremely strong items, but they are also very costly, so don’t think that you can just let your 3DS sit in sleep mode and just overpower yourself with minimal work. You can also link your friends to your different party members to give them the job abilities that they have already mastered, making for even more depth in the experience.
Next, we have the world map.
At last, a world map that I can explore on my own. No linear mapping, you have the freedom to choose where you want to go, anywhere in the world. What makes it even better is that you get an Airship very early in the game, so exploring is open to you. The one downside of the World Map is that when traveling to caves or other areas, the game will tell you that you don’t belong there and send you back out. The ability to make the mistake of going into a cave where your level is not high enough is something that I should have to live with if I choose to do it, not something that you can choose to stop me from doing. It adds to the experience of feeling like an explorer, which is one of the key foundations of any good RPG. The good news is that you will eventually get to go to all of these place via side-quests, but again, this is a decision I should be able to make on my own. A small feature of the world map that I rather enjoyed was that there is a transition from day to night in which enemies will change during the evening hours. What a horrible night to have curse, you might say?
The music in this game is nothing short of riveting. Every single song on the soundtrack is something that you can see yourself throwing on your iPod and listening to even away from the game (I’ve already done it.) The music truly captures the feeling of being on an adventure and the various emotions that you should feel at the desired moments.
I know it seems as though all I have done is boasted about how great the game really is and honestly, that is exactly what I did. This game truly captures what an RPG is meant to be and was nothing short of difficult to put down. There are minor issues like the story not being the most original and being asked to purchase SP with actual cash, but they’re not that big of a deal. The one only issue that bothered me was not being able to explore caves on my own.
This game is the Final Fantasy game we’ve been waiting for for the last decade or so, just under a new name. The game is well received, well reviewed, and for good reason. If anyone has a 3DS, it is a must-have. Let’s just hope that we can get more of these and maybe even a Wii U version? Who knows?