Hey, Kaushik here to offer an opinion on one of the coolest new video games to hit the 3DS. This time it’s Bravely Default, a Japanese RPG that has been long-anticipated in the West by some of the more hardcore RPG fans. Developed by both Square Enix and Silicon Studios, Bravely Default is a more traditional RPG than some of the titles Square Enix has been putting out lately. The title is highly reminiscent of Final Fantasy 5 in terms game systems, particularly the Job system and only 4 playable characters. It hit Western shores just recently, and I have been playing it as much as my time would allow. Let’s find out some more~
The game takes place in the fictional world of Luxendarc, a world governed by the Crystal Orthodoxy. It’s a faith dealing with the power of magical crystals in each of the 4 major continents, each crystal harnessing a different elemental power. However, the nation of Eternia, who rejected the Crystal Orthodoxy, has launched an offensive against the crystals. They seem to be harvesting the crystals and their powers for some unknown reasons.
Agnes Oblige, the vestal (main attendee) for the Wind Crystal, runs into the hero Tiz Arrior as his home village of Norende is swallowed by a massive chasm. As a dark energy takes a hold of the crystals, Tiz and Agnes leave on a journey to purify the crystals while being pursued by the Eternian forces. They are joined by the amnesiac Ringabel, who has a mysterious prophetic journal, and the Eternian traitor Edea.
The plot honestly doesn’t sound very unique, but I think it’s the kind of plot that would have felt very at home in the SNES days of Final Fantasy, and I appreciate it for that. While it’s not unique, it’s still not bad. There are twists and turns, and I think the development of the characters in the game aid the player in becoming invested in the plot. It’s simple to follow and a fun little plot.
I didn’t expect much from the characters at first, but there was one key element of game play that really made me fall in love with the characters. That would be the party chats that occur quite frequently throughout the game. Whenever you trigger a party chat, for whatever reason (generally story line progression), by pressing Y you can see a little chat between your party members. These do a great job in fleshing out the characters and the relationships between them, besides just being entertaining to watch. Definitely one of my favorite features in the game.
The game play is obviously one of the most important aspects of this game, and Bravely Default doesn’t disappoint. If you’re a fan of job-based game play systems, this game is everything you could ever want. There’s a variety of jobs available, unlocked gradually as you progress through the game (additionally you can unlock jobs via side quests). They are, of course, the recognizable Final Fantasy staples. The white mage, black mage, knight, monk, so on and so forth. Each job has several levels of growth attached to it, but it definitely behooves the player to explore and play around with various jobs and job combinations.
Another foundation of the combat system is the brave and default system. The traditional “Defend” option has been replaced with “Default”, and a new resource known as BP was added to the traditional combat. Every turn your characters replenish 1 BP, and you use BP to perform an action. However, if you Default you can defend, while gaining 1 BP. There is another option known as Brave, which uses 1 BP to let you perform an extra action, to a maximum of 4. Of note is the fact that while you start at 0 BP generally, you can dip below. In the case that you do, you cannot perform any action for however many turns you have negative BP for. It’s a very interesting system that can allow some really high-damage turns, but this can come at a cost. A very solid twist on a tried and true genre.
Besides the interesting game play in combat mechanics, there are several useful and interesting minor systems available. There’s the Streetpass-oriented rebuild of Norende village, which you can rebuild as you progress through the game. You rebuild it via “villagers”, which you get by streetpassing people. For players who may not have many streetpass encounters, there’s an internet option that allows you to gain several villagers every day, which is more than enough to rebuild the town. Rebuilding aspects of the town give you access to equipment, items, and even parts for your special moves, so it’s definitely useful to do so. Additionally, there’s a great system of difficulty modification. From a standard change in difficulty level, to full control of encounter rate, to even control over whether you get Pg (money), EXP, or JP (job points) from battles, Bravely Default really lets you customize your own experience.
The art and graphical direction for this game is great. There’s gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds and well-animated scenes throughout the game. The various locales in this game are a pleasure to visit. From a desert clock town, to a flower-themed fashionable town, there are some really interesting towns and areas in this game. That being said, I do believe the dungeon design is somewhat boring and slightly derivative, but for the most part I really love the art style and graphics of this game.
Of course the sound design is great as well. The music is excellent, and really invokes those sounds from my childhood playing Final Fantasy games. The over world theme is great, and gives off a great sense of adventure. The various other themes throughout the game is exceptional. The sound effects are great too, from the jingles that play and persist from your special attacks, to the numbers of hits you can count when you do your normal attacks. Lots of little things come together here to create a solid cohesive experience.
My verdict? If you like Japanese RPGs, and miss the old school Super Nintendo Final Fantasy titles, you cannot afford to miss this game. It’s one of the better JRPGs to hit the west in years.
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