written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)
It's been a hot minute since I've tackled a game I've slept on, at least slept on and decided I felt compelled to write about. Enter Bravely Default from Square Enix, this game has been on my radar for quite some time, though I never had the means (i.e. owning a 3DS) until this past Christmas when good ol' Saint Nick decided to bequeath me with a 3DS.
I've been vocal as of late about my disappointment in the current state of one of my favorite game studios; from the questionable choice to leech more dinero out of the Final Fantasy VII train to everything that is Final Fantasy XIII (including the lengthy production of Final Fantasy XV) Square Enix hasn't exactly done right by their loyal fan-base. Though titled Bravely Default, this game flexes some serious inal Fantasy DNA under the hood. An immersive story coupled with an innovative turn based battle system and memorable characters, aside from lacking Moogles and Chocobos (Chocobi?!?) this is the Final Fantasy sequel we the fans deserved.
Instead of a large cast of characters, your core team consists of four primary heroes. Though the cast is more intimate, this is rectified with the game's job system, similar to inal Fantasy III, you begin as simple freelancers until you collect more standard FF-like job classes such as Knight, Monk, and White Mage. In short, it's the everything an old school Squarest RPG fan could want in a game.
What I thought: Gameplay is familiar yet innovative; each turn grants you a chance to act, though you can choose to use up to four actions consecutively if you want to risk not acting for several enemy turns after. This creates a high-risk high-reward element to the gameplay, if you think you can take down a party of hostiles or a pesky boss in one turn, you can attempt to decimate them with each party member's class specific abilities, though relying on when you act risky and when to act cautious is what makes every encounter more strategic than one would expect a turn-based RPG to be.
Storywise, they managed to fit in so much of the FF DNA into the package, towering kingdoms to vast deserts stand before your party's journey. Love... hardship... betrayal... and friendship all play pinnacle roles in the way Bravely Default's narrative is experienced. Visually, this is hands down one of the prettiest RPG's I've played in a long time. Character designs hold so much character while the hand-drawn backgrounds of several key locales were a treat to romp around in. Though, I did wish the score was more memorable, while I wouldn't say this isn't a great sounding game, there wasn't really any super memorable theme songs throughout.
MY TWO PENNIES
This is something I am so glad I got around to playing, not since powering through Persona 4 did I enjoy a JRPG as much as I did Bravely Default. Though lately, Western game developers have caught up to those in Japan... in many ways eclipsing them, it's nice to see that a publisher I've had such issue with as of late could still pull out an impressive package.
Bravely Second is set to release this year in Japan, no word yet on a Western release, but if how well Bravely Default was received... I can't imagine why Square Enix wouldn't want to bring the sequel over. I had a lot of fun, and despite the music not being as memorable as other staple Square Enix games... this is a game that will stay with me, for that reason alone every JRPG fan needs to play Bravely Default.