Bravely Default – Full Review

Bravely Default is a spiritual successor to the 2010 NDS title Final Fantasy and the 4 Heroes of Light. Although the game itself is a new IP, it plays extremely similarly to a classic Final Fantasy game as 4 Heroes of Light did, borrowing many elements from Final Fantasy while simultaneously adding new ones to make it unique enough to make the game an absolute blast for Roleplaying Game fans.

In terms of the game’s plot, Bravely Default really doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before; the world is in peril, something has happened to the four elemental crystals, four unlikely heroes team up and there’s an entire empire out to prevent you from restoring the crystals. The story does take a crazy turn and there are a few twists and turns here and there, but it is a story that stays simple throughout.

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A lone hero from a destroyed village isn’t original, but there’s still artistry involved

As you progress through the game and defeat bosses, you will unlock jobs, which are character classes. Jobs can be changed at any time through the menu, and as you level up through each job, you will unlock both abilities to use in battle and on the field, as well as passive abilities. Knowing which job to take and which abilities to mix and match for every boss battle can be incredibly fun, especially if you discover an effective combination of skills that dominate battles.

What I found unique about the game is the Brave and Default mechanic used in battles. By using “Default”, your character will go on the defensive and save up 1 BP (Brave Point). By using “Brave”, you can expend 1 BP to add an extra action for your character’s turn; you can stack up to four turns and go as low as -3 BP, however the battle system is designed in such a way where your character cannot act if they have negative BP and must wait a turn to restock; so if you decide to abuse the Brave option early in battle, you’d best be sure that your character can take the enemy’s retaliation for a few turns.

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Though the graphics have changed, the mechanics are classic Final Fantasy

It’s an extremely interesting system with a high risk, high reward mechanic that you really don’t see often in other RPGs. A good strategy for battles is to save up to 3 BP (which is the maximum amount of BP you can save up) and then unleash four turns of attacks for each character. Of course this strategy does not always work, especially for some of the trickier bosses, but it’s good knowing that playing defensively is just as a viable as offensive tactics. Bear in mind that the enemy may also use the Brave and Default options, so be prepared to take advantage of any openings when you see the enemy in negative BP.

Bravely Default puts a huge emphasis on using friends to aid you. In battle, you can summon a character from your 3DS friends list and/or bots to assist with a single preset action. You can do the same, and send your own attacks to help out your friends. Anyone you encounter via Streetpass with the game will add to your home village’s population – while the game is running, villagers work hard to rebuild Norende Village which can be checked on any time with the touchscreen.

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Summoning a Friend has both a neat cutscene and tide-turning potential

Villagers are used to build and upgrade shops, and improve and expand their stock. Village items can be bought from an adventurer NPC who acts as a save point in dungeons. The more villagers you apply to rebuilding/expanding a shop, the less time it takes to finish their task. Keep in mind that time only passes when you have the game running, so do not be shocked to find your villagers still working after coming to the game after some absence.

An extremely welcome feature of this game is the fact that you can increase – or even turn off – the enemy encounter rate. This is incredibly useful for grinding as well as avoiding unnecessary time-wasting when exploring the overworld and dungeons. With this option, you can control your battles in a way not seen in an RPG since The World Ends With You.

For those looking for more flair to their battles, fear not; Special Moves can be fully customised in the menu. Additional power, status effects, and attack properties can be added to every Special Move; unlocked as Norende Village is rebuilt. Special Moves vary depending on the characters’ equipped weapon, with a specific requirement to activate in battle; Special Moves can be incredibly powerful and act as finishers to give you the edge during tough fights.

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The art and character design are by Akihiko Yoshida, who also worked on 4 Heroes of Light, Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XIV

It’s worth pointing out how absolutely beautiful the towns in this game look, everything looks hand-drawn and gorgeous, standing out incredibly well and giving each location its unique tone and feel. Side-events are surprisingly well thought out and they’re definitely worth completing, as they unlock more jobs for you to utilize. The lack of tedious fetch quests in this game may or may not be a welcoming thing as it becomes the case of there being less to do, but they’re of more quality.

My main gripe about Bravely Default is how boring dungeon exploration can become; there are very few puzzles to be solved, few forking paths and not much diversity and variety. Most dungeons can be beaten with a simple case of following the path and going to areas that have not yet been explored on the map. My other complaint is how drawn out some boss battles can be, I know the game relies on you exploiting the Brave and Default system to get a good feel and flow of it, but some of the bosses can become rather boring due to their humongous HP.

To conclude, Bravely Default is everything I could ask for in a good JRPG: an interesting job system, addicting gameplay, party customisation, great music, beautiful artwork and best of all, the options menu that allows you to choose how you play the game. This title is definitely worth your £35. It is a fun and challenging JRPG that will keep your busy for at least 40 hours.

Final Score: 9/10

This post was written by , posted on December 16, 2013 Monday at 9:00 am

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