When Bravely Default launched in 2012 it was a throwback to classic JRPGs that fans have been begging for as the big franchises like Final Fantasy have gone in their own unique directions.
It was well received and loved, so now of course there is the new Bravely Default II, and it’s more of that.
Now if you haven’t played Bravely Default on 3DS yet don’t worry this isn’t a sequel. Bravely Second was a sequel to Bravely Default, Bravely Default II is a brand new story in the Bravely Default series but unrelated to Bravely Default or Bravely Second.
Confused yet? It’s not much weirder than the Final Fantasy numbering.
But on with Bravely Default II. The game starts with the young sailor Seth finding himself washed up on a beach. He meets Gloria, the princess of a local town and soon runs into scholar Elvis and mercenary Adelle. Between them they need to find the four element crystals which were stolen.
So you know, a super JRPG story. One of the issues of the game’s story is that there isn’t anything that feels overly unique. There is nothing wrong with it, and the writing by JRPG standards is good, but nothing stands out as amazing. Same goes for the environmental design. Everything looks good, but there is nothing that screams BRAVELY DEFAULT.
Instead it all looks good, but ultimately forgettable.
What isn’t forgettable is the battle system which is the game’s name sake. In battles you have the normal options like attacking, or you can choose the bravely or default option.
Bravely lets you use more attacking turns which puts you into negatives, and default has your character defend, but saving an attacking turn to unleash later on. Getting your head around this is key early on because the enemies use this too.
So you might be chipping away at a bosses health and slowly make progress before discovering the boss has saved up four turns and wipes you out. Using additional attacks and going into the negatives can be useful when you want to end a battle before the enemy can finish you off, but if you don’t beat said enemy then they get a lot of free turns hitting your team while you wait to get back to a positive turn.
This is a significant aspect to the game. There were bosses I thought I was substantially underpowered for, but once I learned to use their weaknesses and use the Bravely and Default system strategically I kicked the bosses ass. Ok I scraped by but still.
Picture what it takes to make a game a classic turn based JRPG. Think of every characteristic those games have in common, you have pretty much summed up Bravely Default II, for better and worse. Still it was a heap of fun and had a gorgeous soundtrack to boot.
Released: February 2021
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch