Bravely Default First Impressions

Something old, yet Something new

Mar 02, 2014
Bravely Default European Box Art

Bravely Default Bravely Default

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
Price: $39.99
Release Date: Oct. 11, 2012

Let me begin by saying stating, rather loudly, that this is the game that will turn me into a more professional game journalist. Why, exactly? Well, because it's making me keep pen and paper nearby to write down some of the amazing quips in the writing. Things that, if I paraphrase, I'll lose the humor of the moment.

Wait, clever writing and wordplay... yet a JRPG... have I found it? The game that might bring the old school role playing game back into modernity?

I honestly believe that Bravely Default is a step towards re-invigorating an art-form in the game industry that has been slowly decaying and dying. In the midst of first person shooters, action packed, overly complex story-arcs and background data... we can again relive a simple hero's journey - a band trying to fight for the greater good. But enough about that - there's too much to this game, and to try and reduce it down to just a review would be too simple. Lets break down some of the chapters as I go, shall we?

  • First, yes, this game's music is honestly better than the speakers it blares out of. Lets get this out of the way - the game is beautiful, its art direction inspired, and the music absolutely fantastic. I know this is on a handheld device, but if you are going to play this game, go somewhere you aren't going to be disturbed for a while, put on some solid headphones. Savor the effort they put into making something unique here.
  • I find myself enjoying the back and forth of conversation much more than I do in most JRPGs. Typically, there's a good joke every so often, and plot points. Here, it feels a bit more organic, and the witty remarks never quite stop. They also strike a really compelling point between jokes of the main characters and some of the seriousness of the situation. Its a simple way forward, yes, and they do explain everything out, but the writing is a step in the right direction for a lot of JRPGs out there.

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Let me add that this is one of the games that really makes mewant to turn on the 3d mechanic of the 3DS - a rare feat.Its for the towns though, more than even combat... the locationsare a sight for sore eyes.

  • Ringabel. Oh, Ringabel, how I adore you as a character. Yes, you are the classic fop, the lady's man that never quite becomes a true lecher that we see so often in video games... however, you are done right. It might be the voice actor they used for you, not making you sound whiny, and in fact having a bit of gravitas... it might be simply that you don't fluster when you are shot down, you just sigh and shrug, and keep doing the right thing. Its not that he even overcomes this sort of one-track mind mentality, from what I have seen in the first chapter or two, but its that he fulfills it in a way that isn't annoying. He even has the 'I don't remember who I am' trope that is an iconic...and clich√© ridden part of RPGs, but the way its taken in stride makes me forgive it somehow. Also, that book he has, which tells the future... I'm not sure where you are going yet, plot wise, but I have hope.
  • Okay, combat. Its fun. Its classic turn based, not action RPG. The nostalgia is hard to ignore - its like greeting an old friend for me.
  • On the other hand, for such a classic game, they certainly have tried to turn things on its head. The Brave/Default system - where you can steal future turns to use all at once, or defend to save up actions - is a really nifty idea, but I'm not sure yet as to whether or not this is just a gimmick of the system, or something truly revolutionary and game-changing. Right now, I like it because its fresh. We will see where I am at by the next few chapters' end.
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Combat is fun and quick, despite it being turn based. You can speedup and down animations, steal turns from later rounds, and roll out specialattacks, each with different special music for the different characters.

  • Job classes...oh, how I Love you. I will admit, this is what got me to play the game. I'm a sucker for this mechanic, and when I heard they were using this in a big way, I had to try...then buy, this game. At the end of Chapter one, you get a lot of the 'traditional' ones back - Knight, white mage, black mage, monk, thief, merchant...

....wait, Merchant? What is this madness? Without spoiling anything, lets just say the game is yet again doing what seems to be its theme - touting classical elements and old-school game charm, while also not being afraid to push and change and morph at the edges.

  • Oh, experience grinding. I remember you. I decided to put the game on hard mode, and there's already been a few times by the end of Chapter one where I've had to put the story on hold and go running around for monsters to slay. Do I actually miss doing this? The long, sometimes frustrating road before beating that boss that has been holding me back?

I'll review the game proper hopefully by week's end, but right now, I'm enjoying my slow progression through this game after work ends. I also want to spend the time on this - are JRPG's a relic of an older era of gaming? Or do they just need a fresh face and a make over to find themselves back at the forefront of things? I'm hoping to find out soon, but for now, the nostalgia and the return to my childhood small pleasures is enough.

Wyatt Krause

Editor-in-chief, Co-founder