Square Enix has certainly had its ups and downs in recent years with their releases. Thankfully, Bravely Default is a high point for not only Square Enix, but for the Nintendo 3DS as well. Square-Enix is no stranger to the RPG genre, as they are the ones responsible time and time again for revolutionizing it with their Final Fantasy franchise. Like many Final Fantasy games, Bravely Default centers its story around a group of brave heroes who sets out on an adventure to save the world from a major apocalypse. In Default, the Wind Crystal is consumed in a dark energy, causing havoc on a town called Norende in the land of Luxendarc which gets swallowed up by the earth. Our group of heroes embarks on a journey to free the Wind Crystal in order to undo the damage and restore the world to its former glory before it’s too late.
Despite some pretty obvious similarities to the Final Fantasy games, Bravely Default does seem to take a different path of its own. In fact, it’s almost hard to believe that it was made by the same development team that made the Final Fantasy games. Nothing in Default feels like old recycled Final Fantasy mechanics. The game is totally and completely an independent work of its own.
This latest Square-Enix RPG for Nintendo’s 3D handheld system takes players back to their roots, promising RPG enthusiasts a wonderful, enchanting classical style RPG that both companies are well known for before they merged.
This latest Square-Enix RPG for Nintendo’s 3D handheld system takes players back to their roots, promising RPG enthusiasts a wonderful, enchanting classical style RPG that both companies are well known for before they merged. Never has a game captured my attention and enticed me in such a way that Bravely Default has. From its charming aesthetic world in colorful 3D visuals to its beautiful music composed by Revo of the Sound Horizon music team in Japan, Default delivers in ways that are sure to appeal to, as well as satisfy, our senses.
This time around though, Square Enix looks to redefine what a turn based fight is all about. Granted this game contains all the usual elements of a turn based battle system such as attacks, magic, and even running away. However, Default adds something special to the table by way of a unique battle system. The major new battle mechanic to this game revolves around the “Brave” and “Default” actions used in battle. Players gain one Brave Point every time they skip their turn in battles. Attack uses the point, and so without Brave Points, players cannot attack. Simple enough, right? And to gain back the point, players can choose to sacrifice their turn by choosing to “default”. This cycle continues so on and so forth until there are enough Brave Points to execute more powerful and deadly attacks. This unique risk/reward battle mechanic allows for a whole new way to strategize and offers a breath of fresh air to an age-old, traditional battle system. Proper use of “Brave” and “default” does require a bit of a learning curve since it isn’t something that can be mastered in minutes.
Customization in this game is nearly endless with over 20 different job types that each character can have. Each job type offers different abilities and spells that make your characters unique from one another. Between the jobs and new fight mechanics, Default never gets to feeling stale or repetitive. This game constantly keeps you busy and on your toes. My only gripe about the leveling systems is the duration and time it takes for job levels to increase. This will make you think twice about wanting to switch jobs since your job levels will only increase while the job’s active. Thankfully this isn’t a major problem since the game allows you to change the difficulty setting on a whim. This makes Default a fantastic game for RPG fans old and new.
Default makes fantastic use out of the 3DS streetpass feature. Several things can be accomplished with a streetpass with other real gamers. Streetpass players can be summoned to aid in battle and do a quick attack once before leaving. The other part of streetpass in Default allows players to be recruited for various tasks in rebuilding a town. Near the beginning of the game, a town is destroyed and the player acts as the overseer or manager in charge of seeing it rebuilt. Every building has an assigned amount of time that it requires for the rebuilding to complete. The more streetpass players you have, the quicker the task can be accomplished. Once a building is complete, players will receive special bonuses. For example, building a Trader Shop will allow you to receive free items periodically.
The main characters of Default consist of four different members that make up your party. There’s Ringabel, the suave and savvy character, Agnes, the mystic who plays a vital role in the story, Edea, a soldier who left her homeland, and Tiz, who is the only survivor of a tragedy and is responsible for setting the story in motion. Speaking of main characters, it’s obvious that the voice acting for this game had a lot of effort put into it, and I appreciate the time it took to get it just right. One can simply tell that this game’s story and characters were not just thrown together in one day. All characters, main and supporting, have depth and meaning. The game has dark and serious moments, but at the same time will show a much lighter and carefree side. This is certainly not uncommon for JRPGs to have, and is a welcome addition to Default.
For several years now, JRPGs seem to have lost their place in the West. Bravely Default feels like the first true JRPG to land on the 3DS, and hopefully it will open the door for more quality titles like it. Default shows what the 3DS is capable of, with its beautiful environments and overworlds, while also offering a fantastic soundtrack to accompany the adventure. It’s still early in the year, and if Bravely Default is a sign of things to come, then the 3DS will have a very successful 2014.