Hey gang, Valkor here. It’s been sometime since I’ve sat down to play a traditional, turned-based RPG; I kinda miss the days when SquareEnix (formerly Squaresoft) would produce such titles in spades back in the 16bit era. And while I’ve grown accustomed to an active battle systems, I still enjoy an RPG where I can take my time and really strategize. Well the folks over at SquareEnix, along with Silicon Studio have answered my wants and prayers with one hell of a turn based RPG – Bravely Default for the 3DS; and after plowing away through this title, my commute has been that much more enjoyable.
Bravely Default centers on four heroes out to save the land of Luxendarc from a mysterious darkness that threatens to take over their world, the very same darkness also threatens to steal the light from four elemental crystals, and a giant chasm opens up under a town – mass hysteria! Our four heroes band together in the most unusual circumstances, each with their own backstory related to the cataclysmic event; Tiz is from Norende, the very same town swallowed by the chasm and now he not only sets forth to find out the evil behind it, but he also wants to rebuild the town back to its formal glory. Agnes is a Vestals responsible for the wind crystal; she’s pursued by a group called Sky Knights, who want her captured for the glory of the Duchy of Eternia. Edea is the daughter of the Ruling Council of Eternia, who has not only witnessed the wrongdoings of the knights but sees the truth in the Vestal - she was brought up to believe the Vestal was evil. And now wants to fight against the council. Finally there’s Ringabel, Casanova with no memory of who he is, but he carries with him a mysterious diary that depicts the events of the group’s journey as they play out.
Bravely Default takes traditional turned-based RPGs to the next level allowing you to store and use BP or “Brave Points”; Brave Points aren’t exactly new (if you’ve ever played Dragon Quest VIII, then you get the idea). However, Bravely Defaultgoes further by allowing you to have up to four moves in one turn per character. This means one person can attack, fire off a spell, cure a party member, and perform a special in a single go. The downside to that is, if you didn’t store enough points then you essentially lose a turn or turns, depending on how many brave points you used up. You can store points by switching to default, which will put you in a defensive stance. This also minimizes damage from an enemy and you can continue doing this until you store the points necessary. Thankfully there are also spells and equipment, plus special abilities that will boost your brave points at the jump so you don’t have to lose a turn switching to default. FYI, this applies to enemies as well as they can also store and use brave points against you. But the idea is if you’re powerful enough, you can clear out a bunch of enemies in a single round before they can pop off an attack. This method may not work against a boss character, but you can do some serious damage to him/her, allowing for a much smoother victory. Knowing how to juggle your attacks, with magic, specials and using your BP for multiple attacks is the key to victory. If you win a battle successfully, you’re reward with experience, PG (currency in this game) and job points that increase your abilities for whatever job you hold. You can also gain bonus points should you perform a flawless victory or leave a battle unscathed. However if you cannot win in a first strike, be prepared to suffer some damage as the enemies hit back – hard!
This takes us into the games next feature – the job system. You start out as a freelancer, which permits you the ability to use/wear different weapons and armor. However, after defeating certain boss characters, you’ll gain their job crystal and swap any number of jobs between your party such as a Knight, Red Mage, Sword Summoner, Performer, and Valkyries – 24 in total, with each job having specific strengths, weaknesses, and weapon preference. You can unlock a job’s ability by defeating enemies and earning job points; once you’ve reached a specific number then the ability becomes unlocked. And you can continue to use that ability even if you switch jobs. With that option there are any number of ways you can combine a job with any number abilities, customizing your characters to suit your battle needs.
What truly separates Bravely Default from other RPGS is that it incorporates the 3DS’s “StreetPass” to connect with other players as you pass by them. This works on two levels – first, other players are added to your Norende village, in which they can help rebuild. Rebuilding Norende, especially leveling up the item and equipment shops allows you to access stronger items and more powerful weapons that you can purchase from The Traveler (whom you'll meet in a variety of places). Second, they can also be called upon as support heroes in battle allowing you to use whatever ability they’ve linked to their character. And you can do the same, by assigning certain abilities to a support character that can be sent to other players whom they can also use in battle. They can definitely come through in a serious pinch. Finally, if you’ve had the chance to play the demo, one thing you’ll notice is that the characters that you’ve met and are a part of your Norende village will carry over into the full game. This gives you a bit of a boost in building up your village, allowing you to open up and upgrade much faster than starting from scratch.
While at the surface Bravely default appears to be a simple game, there’s a lot of depth under its hood, so it will take some time to adjust to the layout, but once you’re truly ready, you’ll find you can kick the ass of even the deadliest of foes. But I do have one questions – the title feels like a Final Fantasy game... I wonder it wasn’t given that title? Final Fantasy: Bravely Default. It has a nice ring to it.
When I first heard of Bravely Default and watch some demo vids, I thought this game a) had a lot going for it and b) I’d never get used to the idea of brave points; I didn’t care for them in Dragon Quest VIII, so I felt I wouldn’t bother here. But after playing the demo, I instantly fell in love with the title and purchased it as soon as it became available in the eShop. For starters the story is simple yet packs a lot of depth, plus there’s no one hero that stands out from one another; each character gets their turn in the spotlight, though to me, Ringabel stands out the most as I can totally related to his perverted/charming ways. The job system is another huge plus in that you can assign any character to any job you like; you want all Knights? So be it! How about a mix of Red Mages and Performers? You can do that too? The combinations are endless and so much fun! Plus the abilitiess you learn carries over so you can be a Ninja with a Time spell abilities, a White Mage with the skills of a Monk or a Ninja with White Mage abilities. I’m talking sick combinations. The Graphics are beautiful with big, bold characters with such fluid animations (I love each characters’ little victory dance) backed by lush, detailed backdrops. With the 3DS 3D capabilities, it adds some serious depth to the title, creating an immersive, eye-popping experience. But what truly does it for me is the StreetPass stuff. I wish there were other villages I could help rebuild besides Norende that would increase the amount of weapons and armor I could acquire, but nonetheless it’s exciting when I see new people pop up in my village. Now if only these guys, who help me rebuild would give me money instead of items. Now THAT would be awesome! Nonetheless, Bravely Default definitely gets the nod for one of my “Game of the Year” awards. It’s a definite must play for any fan of the genre or if you're looking to experience some different.
First up, I don’t care too much for the english voice-overs, they’re sometimes way too cheesy for my taste. Second, is the SP (Sleep Points) drink; you have the ability to earn SP while your 3DS is in sleep mode that you can then use in battle when things get really tough, like say when you’re fighting a strong boss character. Using SP will interrupt the battle and allow you to perform a variety of functions such as attack, heal, use a special, whatever you need to do. A huge plus is that if your char is below on BP and out of commish for a bit, they can still be used during SP mode. So why is this such a bad idea? For one thing it’s like a cheat; if you’re able to grind your characters well enough you can take out even the toughest of enemies with ease utilizing brave points and special attacks. I’ve not once used SP – not once! Second, if you really need them and you're all out, then you have to wait 8 hours for them to replenish or you can purchase SP. Really? Using real money just so you can use what is essentially a cheat? This is what we’re wasting microtransactions on, SP? Your characters are way stronger than need be, so SP is just a waste of time (and real money) to even stop and think about. Again, if you’re into JRPGs then you’ll never need SP – ever!
The Bad Ass:
So, just before you fight a major boss battle, the Traveler will be waiting for you, just outside the event so you can save, stock up on items or upgrade your weaponry if need be. Now considering all that you had to do to get to that one spot, this guy has already done it and is just chilling waiting for you. The Traveler - he is the ultimate bad ass!
Bravely Default is available now, exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS and it is one of the best games to have at home or on the go. It’s a traditional RPG with a simple story, some serious depth in its battle system, an amazing job system and excellent use of StreetPass. This is one title any RPG fan cannot pass up. And out of TOV 5 stars, Bravely Default gets a 4.5 of total awesomesauce! (That’s right I said awesomesauce).