Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: N. American demo is out now; full game set to release February 7, 2014.
The first thing you need to know about this game is that Bravely Default is only a good game if you like JRPGs.
The second thing you need to know is that it’s the perfect JRPG.
The demo for the North American version of Bravely Default (technically it’s the sequel in Japan but the first we’re getting here), and was released on the eShop for the 3DS this past week (Jan 2, 2014). None of the past trailers and write ups about this game could get me hyped, but the demo completely changed my opinion!
Don’t expect any storytelling to happen in the demo – they’re clearly saving all that for the real game. The demo is purely a way to showcase the gameplay mechanics.
Trailer w/English Subtitles:
What I love so far:
- You can change Job Class at any time. And there are so many to choose from! The classes are extremely reminiscent of Final Fantasy, so if you’re familiar with classes like “Red Mage” or “Time Mage”, you’ll feel at home. Here’s the wikia page on available job classes. Their outfits are varied and cute and you don’t have any limitations on how often you want to switch classes. It’s not like in Fire Emblem, where you need to hit level 10 with that job class in order to change. But the more time you spend in each class, the more beneficial, as you’ll unlock new abilities to use.
- You can still equip one other Ability from a different class! I LOVE this!!! So my Red Mage can cast healing spells AND use the Samurai class’ “Bushido” ability, so she can have a powerful counter attack for the turn. It’s great, and combinations are something to consider in your strategies.
- The Brave/Default system truly makes this game stand out from other, more boring turn based battle systems. This is huge. You know how it sucks for your healer character to just be standing by all the time? Or how sometimes you fight a boss and he hits so hard, all you can do is spend a turn to heal everyone….only to have the boss smack you to near-death again, wherein the next turn you have to desperately heal again…and you get stuck in this cycle. The Brave/Default system seems to counteract this! So now my healer can store up a turn by using the “Default” command, during the beginning of a battle where she has nothing to do. Then later, when people are down and out, I can hit “Brave” and have her go twice in one turn! She can revive and heal fully, and this has me grinning as I play. I feel so much more free. It really breaks the tedium.
- The player gets to control how tedious & difficult the game is. WHENEVER IT’S CONVENIENT FOR THEM!!! This is huge to me as well. Sometimes I like grinding, so I’ll go in to the Configurations Menu and raise my Random Encounter Rate, and change the Difficulty to Hard. Sometimes I’m sick of grinding and wanna get on with the story, or I have no more items…and no I don’t want to restart or risk death….and I can jump back in that menu again and turn Random Encounter Rate down to 0% and switch Difficulty to Easy. No limits, just like with the job classes. You can do this whenever and however often you like!! This is a nice way to include both hardcore and more casual players….I REALLY appreciate it.
- Visuals & Audio are beautiful, as expected from a JRPG! Sprites are beautiful, the backgrounds are breathtaking (they put a lot of effort in to the demo town, which has this kinda Prague-ish gear-clock steampunk vibe to it). The music is wonderful, and you likely want to play with headphones to enjoy it….since the 3DS’ speakers are crap. Every random monster has well textured and crafted models.
There’s also a town called Norende, which your party is rebuilding. You access a map of it on your bottom screen, and you can assign villagers to rebuild it. They work only while the game is active, so if you shut down Bravely Default, you’ll make zero progress. I don’t really mind this because once you start getting new villagers (via Streetpass/Spotpass), the building doesn’t take all that long. I’m lucky in that I live in NYC so I get a lot of Streetpasses, but Nintendo also has that wave of Streetpasses you can pick up at Nintendo hotspots now too, if you live in low-density areas. Seeing the town get rebuilt is pretty cool, and every now and then the structures will give your party some new items (like Hi-Potions!) almost as “tribute”. I hope in the full game you can actually visit and walk around Norende, but we shall see. I love seeing things improve and go from “rags to riches”, so this particular thing appeals to me…like in Suikoken II, where you get a derelict castle and slowly refurbish it to be an amazing palace. I’m the kind of person who likes to start her Sims games by having an 8 person household sleep in shifts for 1 twin bed. Usually there is only one “wall” in the house, because the game requires you set a toilet against a wall :P
…This is one of the fullest demo’s I’ve played on the 3DS yet. It is fully worth downloading to try it out, and I think it perfectly shows whether you’d like the attitude and gameplay of Bravely Default, without spoiling any of the main game’s story. I used to be ambivalent, but playing the demo really turned me around. Now I’m eagerly awaiting its release, come February.
P.S. – Some Drama Over Censorship
OH, and I nearly forgot to mention this. There’s some drama going on over the N. American release of this game, where the developers have pre-emptively censored their game. See Kotaku’s article on it, “Our Bravely Default Isn’t As Young Or Undressed As Japan’s”,
which has some comparison pictures. Basically, they aged up the characters by 3 years, from 15 to 18 (now no one is a minor by US standards), and they changed the outfits a little so that less skin is showing….and they altered some dialogue to tone down sexual innuendo. From what I’ve read, people with the European version of the game say nothing that was changed affects the plot, except you may be wondering why these adults olds act like younger teens (bratty I guess). Personally, I am against censorship….and I don’t think they needed to change the outfits and tone down the dialogue if they already aged up the characters to adulthood. More annoying to me, however, is reading user comments who are calling the in-game sprites “children”. They argue that since the characters look like pre-teens (as in 12 year olds), regardless of their actual age being 18 in the N.A. release, it is still sick and gross that you see the female characters in bikinis and such. If you’ve ever read my messy rant defending Nowi from Fire Emblem: Awakening, who also looks like a minor but isn’t, then you already know my stance. Hell, if you’ve ever had to check people’s IDs before serving them alcohol, you know people DO look like young teenagers when they’re actually well in to adulthood. I’m 26 and people think I’m in high school. Even my 29 year old BOYfriend gets carded and met with shock, because people thought he was under 21. It’s not cool to invalidate people’s bodytypes by saying “you look like a kid, you have no right wearing a bikini, get outta here.” I don’t wanna go over this again, I know it’s a very controversial topic. But seriously, in Japan those teens are already at age of consent, for the N.A. release they are 18 so they are also at the age of consent.
ALSO. Bravely Default is using the “chibi” or “SD (super deformed)” art style!! So they do have more mature bodies (look at the FMVs like in the trailer), but get scrunched down to the “chibi-style” for the real time game sprites. C’mon. Final Fantasy VII was SD style as well, and a million other games from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the United States…etc. It’s made to look cute by scrunching down the character, it’s an art style…it’s not meant to declare the character is underaged.
NOW, WITH ALL THAT BEING SAID….A lot of this game and style is reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics, and I do wish we had properly armored women for battle, like in that game. Tactics still has some of my most favorite designs, and it was so refreshing and rare to see women in burly armor that still looked cool. If Bravely Default was like that, it would make me infinitely more happy.