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.
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.
- 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
- 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