Reviews: Bravely Default
Flawed, but wonderful game (Contains mild spoilers)
Originally, I played this game under a suggestion of a friend. And they weren't wrong with how good it was. Though chapter 5 and onward get very monotone with the main story that you'll probably only get interested with the side quest to pass time. I'm not that interested with how the game's system goes as I'm more in love with how the world of that series is portrayed as instead so I can't say anything bad with the battle system. But the one thing I love is the language system where you can change languages to your preference and just enjoy the story, no matter which audio or subtitle you choose. The world of Luxendarc is wonderful and very fantastical. I loved some of the areas there, and the music, it's Revo's handwork which made me enjoy this game and there's not a soundtrack I disliked. And the characters are interesting with background motivations as well. (Sadly, you'll only find out more about this in further loops which may proof boring which is a downside for gameplay wise but quiet positive on the character's personality or background building.) Another thing I loved of it, is that Bravely series always think of things never done in other games. Such as the player's actually considered an equivalent to a god by the character's of Bravely Default, not many games implemented that. And I can tell the studio Siliconera that worked with Square Enix for this game also worked hard to think of this feature and implemented the 3DS's system to full use for plot reasons, something I see, that not many games had implied. Revo will be dearly missed for Bravely Second but hearing Supercell's Ryo's composition, I'd like to think that Ryo is also doing a wonderful job and I can say that Bravely Second will prove to be quiet a good sequel plot wise. If you are interested with the system, you may or may not like it, but for a person who is more interested on the plot, I'd suggest you give this a try.
Should have never bought this
Believe me, I was pumped when I first got Bravely Default. I thought I'd be getting a great throwback to oldschool Square RP Gs where the belts-per-person ratio is low and the writing is simple but not stupid. The prologue rocked for me, but before long the glamor of the writing began to decline with Chapter 2's stupidity over a fashion show and contacting Olivia that it lost me. For a genre that's long-since generally hammered out gameplay, story is what keeps you invested and Bravely Default's is just a massive middle finger. What really turns me off though is how clever the game thought it was being and how it kept shoving its alleged cleverness in your face. The sidequests drop hints about the grander plot, and some of them (such as the Vampire quest) all but spell everything out. But because they're optional sidequests, they have no real impact on the actual overall narrative and nobody bothers discussing them at all. I've played old and more recent jRPGs with better writing than this. Final Fantasy 1 had better writing than this drivel. At least that game kept its space-time tomfoolery in line. Mechanically, it's sound... although boss difficulty is all over the place in and near the endgame. The dynamic with the Jobmasters was fine too and I rather liked Edea's interactions and relationships with them. Honestly I'd rather the game have just been about that with Edea as the focus; a simple but fun story. She's the most well-rounded and interesting of the heroes. But Square couldn't have that. Instead they had a game that disregards all sense of pacing in the second half for tedious busywork and congratulating itself over making an RPG with one of the worst stories I've ever seen. All this buildup, all the obnoxious false-starts about getting the plot into high gear, and you get a final boss without a hint of originality and whose archtype has been done better in pretty much every medium of fiction. With only a 400 word limit for this review, I can't get into everything right here, but I'll be willing to take this to the comments if anyone has questions or want to discuss anything. But I leave you with this: supposedly the title means to "Bravely go against what's expected of you". Take that as the hint and don't buy this garbage. Play a good RPG instead, old or new. There's plenty out there.
Bravely Default: Flawed but Fantastic.
There is no doubt that flaws exist with this game, namely the poor pacing of the infamous second half, some of the voice acting quality, and how underpowered black magic is compared to physical combat. But the things that Bravely Default gets right, it really gets right. And Bravely Default gets a lot of things right. First off, the main feature of the game, the Brave/Default system. It's extremely well executed. So much so that I fear it may have tainted my opinion of a game I may have enjoyed much more were I not constantly reminded of how much better Bravely Default handled attack chaining: Radiant Historia. What Bravely Default's developers understood, and what Radiant Historia's developers did not, was that multiple factors can change when you link moves up. Bravely Default allows you to plan for them by allowing you to choose moves that, at the time of your planning, are impossible, allowing you to plan for MP restoration, Silence curing, etc. At no point did I find myself annoyed by some oversight in the Brave/Default system. Second, the job system is awesome. They took the job system from FFV and expanded it immensely, adding a bunch of new features and much further depth to each job, with 14 levels to each job rather than the 3-7 of final fantasy V. The customization potential is so much larger it's insane, which makes replay value really high. Third, this game has the best New Game + feature in video game history, and I mean that almost as an objective fact. The game hands you a checklist allowing you to customize what you want to keep. Do you want to start the game over with nothing but the job asterisks? Do you want to keep your levels and money but not your equipment? Do you want to start with a clean slate except that you want your progress on Norende village kept? All of these and more are allowed with Bravely Default's NG+. Fourth, the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. Revo/Linked Horizons did an amazing job, and there isn't a single song in the entire game I didn't like. I'm sad they won't be in Bravely Second, but here's hoping they make another awesome choice again. Bravely Default is a fantastic game, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you like RPGs and you're keeping away because of what you may have heard about its exaggerated minor flaws.
I really can't tell you how much I enjoyed this game. It's the main reason why I got a 3ds. From beautiful graphics to brilliant gameplay, I feel as though I truly got my monies worth. The best parts about the game is most definitely the job system, allowing for an amazing degree of customizability that let you put together your very own dream team. And the music, dear god the music. Definitely has one of the best soundtracks I have heard in a very long time. In particular, the penultimate boss theme is without a doubt a beautiful composition that really gets you going. Although the game is not without its flaws. My main beef is its plot. Whilst the scale is rather epic, "awaken the four crystals" is a really old and overdone plot and this game didn't really try to do anything innovative with it. And of course, there's the much reviled "time warp" where you basically redo the game 4 more times with minimal plot advancement, which I admit really killed the immersion and fun for a while. And the really annoying part are the side quests that shed a lot of light on the plot. But since they're optional, the info gained from them never really comes into the plot. Also, the final boss was poorly executed with a near unintelligible voice and rather boring characterization. Flaws and all, the game was still a huge amount of fun. I sank over 100 hours into the game and do not regret getting it one bit. It has its flaws, but this game is defiantly worth getting, if only to hear Ringabel's pervy wisdom.
Lots of potential wasted - mild spoilers ahead
Bravely Default is a return to the old school JRPG days of turn-based strategies, grinding, and job systems. Even "Awakening the Crystals to save the world" is back. The good news is that this game plays homage to its roots while also subverting some pretty common old Final Fantasy tropes. You're still awakening crystals but... is it really a good thing? Unfortunately, the deeper you get into the game the more frustrating the above gets. Once you awaken all the crystals you're not treated to a brand new area to explore with brand new challenges - you're brought back to the same place to do the exact same quests all over again. And again. And again. And again. At this point most of the sidequests and battles become optional but really, that's not a compliment. The story grinds to a halt and the characters spend most of the time wandering about their strange new (old) world until the same character gives them a shocking new piece of information they themselves had touched on before. And this is where the game really struggles. The four main characters rarely question anything that goes against their already-presumed beliefs and yet seem to be aware that something is wrong. But none of the four question it, or try anything different, they just awaken more crystals. The plot runs on everyone holding onto the Idiot Ball as tightly as possible. The shocking twist has already been dangled so many times that it's not a relief when all is explained - it's just frustration that it took so long to get there. So much of the plot could have been avoided if the main antagonists had actually had a conversation with the main four so naturally, no one tries to hold a conversation and instead go for an all-out battle. Good points: - Job abilities and classes give a lot of customization room - Grinding is simplified via auto-battle - Gorgeous game with fitting music - First four chapters are a welcome play on already-established Final Fantasy tropes - Many bosses are puzzles as opposed to straight brawls - You can adjust the difficulty and encounter rate Bad points: - Plot relies on forced drama and the characters remaining unaware - Post-Ch 4 is exceedingly tedious - Most background information has to be read in notes an D's journal - No real optional sidequests or hidden areas