Review: Bravely Default
Bravely Default is a 3DS game developed by Silicon Studios and published by Square Enix. It's quite similar in game play style to the Final Fantasy series and practically feels like a sequel to Final Fantasy IV. It is a turn based combat system with random encounters and boss battles typical with this style of game but also has some advanced settings to maximize or minimize random encounters. This enables quicker travel which allows both an opportunity to burn through the story or increase the frequency of encounters in order to grind and level up your party.
The game really shines in letting you pick and choose easily between jobs and skills. As you progress you open new jobs that can really make your party powerful and unique. There is a total of 24 jobs in the game ranging from Knight, White Mage, Black Mage to the more obscure Vampire, Merchant and Salve Maker jobs. The whole Brave or Default system in battle is a unique system for using special moves or defensive moves. Using Default you save battle points that you can spend for powerful attacks later using Brave. Each class has some special moves that can do devastating damage or provide massive protection to your party. This is essential to surviving certain boss battles. There is a good sense of strategy when deciding whether to use Brave or Default in a battle.
The game also utilizes the 3DS' sleep feature to power up one huge skill boost and you can buy this power with microtransactions. It takes away the cap on damage for this one strike which can make a significant difference in the more difficult battles. I just left my 3DS plugged in and sleeping to use this as often as I could.
You will travel to towns, dungeons and across the map in an effort to restore balance to a world being consumed by darkness. You get help traveling with the use of water crafts and flying machines to cover huge areas of the map. The cast of characters and voice acting is both entertaining and fun. They each have unique and varying personalities that I connected with and even had an occasional laugh from during the dialog scenes. Some good humor built in there.
The visuals in this 3DS game are very impressive overall. I like the subtle touches and gestures the party uses when entering a battle. When walking into a town, the camera zooms way out and then back which provides a nice sense of scale. The battle effects and spells are colorful and feel contemporary for a older style game. The music is perfectly fitting and fully orchestrated rounding out a quality game.
The game play does become grindy especially later in the chapters. You must battle increasingly harder versions of the same boss to get through the game. I enjoyed the challenge but I would rather see something new than just go back and battle a harder version over and over again. Perhaps this design decision is a way to lengthen the game and make it feel like a more modern RPG with new game plus type elements.
The game can eat up a lot of time and I currently have about 65 hours into it. I would say if you enjoy the old school Final Fantasy games, this one is going to be a good fit for you. It has many customizable options so you can enjoy the game exactly the way you prefer. Has different difficulties and you can use friend's characters to summon into a battle. It is not true co-op but still fun to see a buddies character pop up able to help you fight.
The 3DS uses the top screen to display the action and the bottom screen to pick your action :
Each boss has a weakness you'll have to spend the time to discover but fortunately it's half the fun. Sometimes you may even have to change up your jobs to be victorious. Each boss you beat leaves you a new job type which you can equip to see if you enjoy the play style. You also keep certain perks from previous jobs so you can customize your party with the skills as they progress. It can help to have two members with healing skills for example.
I enjoyed this game and look forward to picking up the sequel - Bravely Second which is out now. If you own a 3DS and like early Final Fantasy role playing games, then pick this title up and watch the hours pass by. Games like this that make me happy I purchased a 3DS.