Review: Bravely Default

Jake Dubusker ’15

I’m a fan of Square Enix and many of their series, but they’ve been slipping up lately. The Final Fantasy XIII games were possibly an all-time low for the series, having reduced nearly all gameplay to extensive and boring cutscenes, linear corridors, and combat that’s handled almost entirely by the AI. Regardless, I heard good things about their new title for the 3DS, so after waiting a week for it to finally come in stock at my local stores, I picked it up. It’s a bit hard to get into at the start, mostly because you have to wait through all the cutscenes, but we get a look at a huge world with societies and religions, and a glimpse at an evil force at work that I won’t spoil causing the main conflict.

If you’ve played Final Fantasy 7, the format of the world and traveling is similar to that of FF7 when you leave Midgar. There’s a big world map to explore with many places to adventure and gather quests. Combat starts off a bit tedious but new mechanics are introduced at a quick pace to keep things interesting. Combat is turn-based, with the addition of the eponymous Brave and Default system. You can ‘brave’ a character to have him take multiple actions in a turn, using up Battle Points (BP), and you can ‘default’ him to put him on defensive and save up BP to use in later braves. It adds depth and more strategy to combat, making it less of “which move to use this turn” and offering more decisions and tactics to play with to defeat enemies. Any character in your party can be any class (and there are many classes), allowing you to find different class and attack combinations for different strategies.

Story progression follows the Square Enix tradition of telling you barely anything until later in the game, but it’s not that bad in Bravely Default because what backstory you’re given early on is more than enough to go on.  I can’t reveal too much more about the game without spoiling some of the experience, but I very much recommend it. Final Fantasy may be going in bold new directions that aren’t working out very well, but Bravely Default shows that Square Enix still knows how to make solid JRPG with fun mechanics that keep things interesting.

Next Week: Painkiller

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