Think back to the days of old, when Final Fantasy was the most ambitious and well crafted RPG of the generation. Those games were incredible. Well Bravely Default has appeared to take us back to that time and show us just why RPG’s are so magical.
Bravely Default follows the Final Fantasy plot line as its basis. The world is being destoried, there are sages and magic crystals that need recovering, and a dark looming evil just over the horizon. Everything is original RPG fare, for a while. Soon the game branches out into its own world and introduces the player into a very dark and twisted version of what RPG storylines are typically like. It’s a deconstruction of the genre, and it’s done very well.
For the first few hours character development is slow. Really slow. The main character is a bland and soulless boy who is only there to help the players self insertion into the game, his motive is unclear and his back story, while very tragic, seems to have no effect on his personality, as he skips through the bleak world like a happy go lucky schoolgirl on his way to grandmas. Luckily all of the other characters in the story are far more interesting. Granted they all start out slow too, but their character development is far better than the main character’s.
The battle system is old school RPG to the extreme. Think Final Fantasy 3 with Dragons Quest. The players take it in turns to attack the enemy, each attack, spell or item used takes away one action point. Seems simple. But wait, there’s more. Thanks to this little system called the Bravely Default system, players can risk to stack their next for turns into one long attack but leave themselves open for the next few turns, or stay default in defend mode to allow their action points to stack up for future use. This one mechanic completely changes the way the game is played. Players who feel confident can push their luck and go all out, while players who are more conservative can stack back and build up a massive burst of power. This simple mechanic makes the battles constantly fun to play, as finding a balance between risk and reward is key to surviving the dangerous world of Bravely Default.
Another mechanic lifted straight from Final Fantasy is the job system. Characters can select jobs that allow them to use spells and skills related to that class. This is normal RPG stuff, but once again Bravely Default flips it on its head. Characters can choose a job and be able to use the skills related to it, but they can also choose a ‘Fixed Command’ to take into battle. Fixed Command’s are the skills or spells learnt from any other class the character has used before. This opens up a world of different character builds; monks with fire magic, mages with sword strikes, archers that can become tanks. The world lets you play however you want. The freedom in letting the player create characters unique to them is another reason that Bravely Default excels at being an RPG.
Bravely Default is hard. Brutally hard. So hard that the developers let the player change the difficulty in the options menu hard. Hard. But it’s also fair, and that’s a key thing to remember, the game never makes the player feel cheated or that the enemy used a one-hit KO move on them. The game remains fair all the way through, and if things get too tough, SP drinks can be bought from the E-shop to give the main character a power boost in battle. Some people may see this as an easy way out, but the fact it’s an option shows that the creators didn’t want to punish players for getting suck.
Bravely Default is a wonderful looking game. The game has a very good ‘hand drawn with coloring pencils’ look going for it. Every town and dungeon is carefully and consistently well made to add depth and detail to this vivid world. Character designs make every hero look small and adorable, like little chibi dolls come to life. This juxtaposes the dark and harsh story being told, adding to the contrasting and deconstructing nature of the game. Yet another thing the game does brilliantly.
All of the music in the game is done by a full orchestra, granted that’s become the norm of modern games, but Bravely Default does it differently; it captures the essence of adventure and fear all at once. The characters want to save the day, but they’re terrified all the same, and the music captures this feeling perfectly. Melodies that echo back lost memories of RPGs long since gone, and other tunes that play homage to other games. The music is a joy to take in while traveling the world, and makes the journey that much better.
There is little to say against Bravely Default, it’s a superb game that captures the magic of games from years ago, and changes up the formula just enough that everything feels new and exciting while also being comfortably familiar. It’s a love letter to all gamers, and anyone with a 3DS should experience the wonderful adventure that lies within Bravely Default.
This review was originally posted on http://www.gamingcapacity.com/