Developer: Square-Enix, Silicon Studio

Publisher: Nintendo

A 3DS Exclusive


    Remember that one time in the last console generation when everybody declared JRPGs were dead? Many seemed to be under the impression that JRPGs simply up and vanished in the transition from the PS2 era to the PS3 era. That was a ludicrous notion, wasn't it? The last console generation alone saw more than three entries in the Final Fantasy series, three games from Hironobu Sakaguchi's Mistwalker Studios, numerous Tales of games, countless installments in the Atelier series and plenty of one-off projects of all stripes such as Valkyria Chronicles, Ni no Kuni, The Last Remnant, Infinite Undiscovery and Resonance of Fate. And that is not even mentioning the sheer volume of JRPGs that have launched during the DS/3DS and PSP/Vita lifespan as well as indie revivals on XBLA/PSN and Steam. Those types of games didn't go anywhere; the number of them actually worth playing was what saw a huge drop. In terms of sheer quantity, JRPGs have been well represented, however, it doesn't feel that way because the genre became incredibly stagnant.

    Bravely Default was one of those games that came at the right place in the right time when it released. Square-Enix thought that the game would be a dud when it came out, but were pleasantly surprised to see how well it did in the states. Who would have thought that a company famous for making quality RPGs would make a lot of money by making an RPG? There has been and there always will be a market for old school JRPGs, one that had been hungry for a good game to sink their teeth into at the time. Indeed, if you have been looking for an old school JRPG fix, then this will definitely be a game you can get into.

    The game is heavily inspired by Final Fantasy V and as such features a job system at its core complete with characters changing outfits with job swaps. In a nice twist, you earn additional jobs by beating bosses of that class (most of which are optional, but you'll do anyway to get more jobs).Characters can have a base job equipped which augment the character's stats depending on the job type, but can also equip the skillset of another job to supplement your current job. In addition to support skills, you can augment your character further. This allows for a multitude of different combinations to experiment with to find the playstyle that best suits you.

    The titular brave and default are not the game changers people would have you believe. By "braving" you can take up to three future turns immediately and then wait them out until your next available turn while "default" is just a fancy word for guard. There is literally no reason why you wouldn't just have all of your heavy-hitters spam all of their moves in one go while your healer keeps them alive during their downtime so it basically evens out to a normal battle system that has a silly quirk. It is not a horrible system by any means and everything works as intended, it is just that it seems quite easy to just find a rut and settle in it rather than use the system to its full capability.

    I admire the creators of the game's story for what they tried to do, but in the end I felt it just didn't work. Since the middle to late game stuff is heavily spoiler-laden, I will provide a brief spoiler-free recap here. A huge part of what goes wrong is that the middle to late game is all repetition. Most review outlets mentioned there was some repetition, but they wrote it off as a minor quirk. YOU HAVE TO PLAY THE ENTIRE GAME FOUR TIMES OVER AFTER YOU'VE BEATEN IT!!!! That's not exactly "minor quirk" territory. Thankfully, you can speed run the next four playthroughs since you have access to the airship immediately and can just drop yourself on top of your objectives, but really four times?

    Bravely Default was an old school Final Fantasy game in all but name, and that was exactly what people were wanting when this came out.





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