The ‘Default’ Final Fantasy Companion

From its announcement, Square Enix’s 3DS RPG “Bravely Default” promised to be heavily influenced by “Final Fantasy V” by boasting the game’s beloved job system. “Bravely Default” is certainly a brand new “Final Fantasy V” and serves as a breath of fresh air for RPG fans that have been longing for a return to the classic games.

Courtesy of Square Enix

Courtesy of Square Enix

“Bravely Default” immediately shares the same appeals and drawbacks of its inspiration. If you were expecting a gripping story and strong characters to guide you through this game, prepare to be disappointed. Although there are eventually some twists later on, “Bravely Default” returns to the classic “Darkness is spreading and the crystals are in danger lest the Four Heroes of Light step up to save the day” plot of the early Final Fantasy’s. The characters thankfully have a bit more personality than you would expect due to a longer script and tons of optional conversations, but again they aren’t the main attraction of this game.

The return of the job system and the new Brave and Default system are the main reasons to play “Bravely Default,” and together they carry the whole game. Once unlocked, there are 24 jobs for your four party members to switch between at will from straightforward jobs like Knights and Black Mages to advanced jobs like Pirates and Vampires. Like “Final Fantasy V,” you can attach the unique command of a job you’ve been leveling up to your current job, which effectively lets you create hybrid classes.

A new wrinkle to the job system is that as you level up each job, you occasionally unlock passive abilities that can be attached independently of the two main jobs you are using. Ultimately by experimenting with the job system, you can come up with a ton of really devastating combinations. For example, give a dual-wielding Ninja the Swordmaster’s counter abilities and the Valkyrie’s passive Pierce Default ability, and you’ll be ripping through even the most well defended enemies easily.

Courtesy of Square Enix

Courtesy of Square Enix

The simple yet brilliant Brave and Default system is what really separates “Bravely Default” from other games with turn-based combat. Both you and your enemies each have BP (Brave Points) that you use to execute moves. By using Brave you can stack up to four moves together and when using Default you defend 50 percent of any attacks and stockpile one BP for the next turn. By using Brave you can actually go into negative BP which means you’ll have to wait to recharge before you can act again. The Brave and Default system is immediately appealing, super deep and also pairs extraordinarily well with the job system to make combat really engaging.

Just like in my personal favorite DS game “The World Ends With You,” you can freely tweak the difficulty and the encounter rates at anytime which is an excellent feature. Customization is really a theme for the game in general, as you can also play with the battle speed, swap between English and Japanese voice tracks, and engage in numerous social features that are entirely optional.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the game’s gorgeous 3D hand-painted scenery and the outrageously fantastic soundtrack composed by Revo (aka Linked Horizon). While the story and characters didn’t do it for me, the graphics and soundtrack really gave the game the right classic feel.

By dropping the brand name and revisiting the classic formulas from a modern perspective, “Bravely Default” is the best “Final Fantasy” game in years that isn’t an MMO.


RECOMMENED: Plain and simple: 3DS RPG fans need to play “Bravely Default.”