Bravely Default: Flying Fairy - Full Review
I’ve made MANY Bravely videos over the last two years, and going back, I really liked giving this game 10/10, perfection reviews. But as of late, I’ve become, or like to think that I’ve become, more objective when reviewing things. And since I never did an actual review of Bravely Default in all this time, I think it’s long overdue. Let’s go spoiler free too, or as much as possible.
The Game Itself and Story
Bravely Default is a turn-based JRPG released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2012, and later in 2014 for North America, developed by Silicon Studios, and published by Square Enix. It is a spiritual successor to the Final Fantasy series, evolving from what was initially going to be a sequel to The 4 Warriors of Light. The story revolves around four main characters banding together to save the world after the world’s crystals are shrouded in darkness, causing nature to fall into turmoil – the seas rot, the earth collapse, volcanoes erupt, you get the picture. Hot on their tail is the Duchy of Eternia, a government body lead by commanding officers that attempt to stop the party from awakening the crystals.
The story in an overall sense is good, despite being very generic. It has a strong flow that pulls you in and keeps on giving and giving. The game’s theme of being self-reliant – hence the title, “bravely default”- is there but doesn’t bash you over the head too much, and if you didn’t know there was a theme, you might have missed it if you were just enjoying the game and not really thinking, like I did. The many twists that come later in the game are very intriguing, though there is an issue involving the later part of the story that I will address later. Regardless, Default’s story feels almost fairy tale like in nature, and is a fantastic medieval-esque journey for this modern era.
The characters of the party consist a variety of characters: Anges Oblige – the Vestal of Wind, a maiden who tends to the Wind Crystal, and longs to purge the darkness now shrouding it; Tiz Arrior – our protagonist, a country bumpkin who is the sole survivor after his village of Norende is swallowed by a great chasm, and joins Anges to hopefully erase the chasm; Ringabel – a robust and charming man who has no memory of his past or himself, save for a journal that contains events of the future, and a woman he must meet; Edea Lee, daughter of the Grand Marshall of Eternia, who turns traitor on the Duchy after going against their beliefs; and finally Airy, the cryst-fairy who aides the party and acts as a guide for the player.
There are many more characters throughout the game, all of whom are very unique and interesting in their own ways. Everyone is given a lot of personality that really sets them apart, and Party chat segments of the game give the player fun candid interactions between the party members. Unfortunately, performances by the voice actors are hit or miss. Sometimes they’re really on point, and then others are... not. Overall, the cast of Bravely Default will have you rooting for them or hating them, but both in good ways.
Now let’s discuss gameplay. Every game should have good gameplay as to not frustrate the player – after all, these things are supposed to be fun, right? Bravely Default is no exception, taking the turn based battle system and giving it a few cool twists, most notably the Brave and Default system. On a turn, you may give up taking an action and guard with Default, and you will gain a Brave Point, or BP. You can then spend these BP by using Brave to take multiple actions on a turn instead. You can also Brave without enough BP, but you will then have to wait for all the extra turns you took before being able to do anything again.
SP is another type of Point earned through either leaving your 3DS in Sleep mode for 8 hours with the game on, or the unnecessary microtransactions that I never understood their reason of existence in the game. SP can be used to pause the battle at any point and get an attack in, and can go over the normal damage cap. The game also makes use of the 3DS’ Streetpass function, allowing players to send out moves they do in battle to be used by another player, a great mechanic overall.
The Streetpass function is also used in a Norende rebuilding minigame, where Streetpassing other players puts more people in your village, allowing the real time constructions to decrease, giving players access to more items and gear in less time. Default also makes use of the 3DS’ AR reader, to display movies on your screen that can take place in your living room. This game pushes the 3DS to its limits, making use of every function imaginable, and even using 3D with this game isn’t half bad.
Graphics and Design
Visually, the game is beautiful. It is not a masterpiece of realism, but excels in its own style. Gorgeous watercolor backgrounds make up playable areas for various parts and both surprising and pleasant to see, mixed with some 3-D overhead dungeon crawling environments. Character design is nice, and the outfits are very appealing. Normal enemies are a bit on the generic side, but bosses have a lot more going on. I will mention that I personally love the penultimate and final boss designs. So in terms of art, Bravely Default certainly gets a pass from me.
Since the art style was just covered, let’s go over the music. This point alone is a selling point for the game, as it stills remains as my number one favorite video game soundtrack with its unique sound of what I will call “orchestrated rock”. If anyone knows an actual name beside Wikipedia says, I’d be happy to know. But don’t just take my word for it; you’ve been listening to it throughout this video. The soundtrack was composed by Revo and performed by his band, Sound Horizon. If it sounds familiar, they did the first Attack on Titan opening. So basically imagine an entire game with music like that.
Every song in this game has its own heavily distinct feel, conveying every feeling under the sun to the player. From mystifying, peaceful ambience, to feelings of dread and despair, to the coolest boss themes ever, the music of Bravely Default is certainly one of its most recognized features. Being perfectly honest for a moment, the initial reason I bought the game was because of hearing the soundtrack, and that’s reason enough to warrant getting it, especially since there’s so much more greatness within.
Flaws and Problems
Now you might be thinking that all I’m doing is praising the game, but I was just waiting to hold my criticisms until after the positives, and now we are here. There are two bigger problems that can make Default a very tedious game and really drags it down as a whole.
The first issue, without giving away any major story spoilers, is that in the later parts of the game, you are literally repeating the same thing about five times in a row. This grows VERY tiresome, VERY quickly. They attempted to make it a little more interesting by changing some slight things up each run, but it is not enough to make the repetition any better. This section can be rather painful to get through, and feels more like an attempt to just get the game to an 80 hour mark. It mostly just serves as a very boring way to get a portion of the story across, but fails strongly and almost makes playing a hassle more than fun.
The other big problem is the later level job grinding. Now yes, RPGs are known for grinding out dungeons to get ready for fights, but getting those last few job levels in Default is particularly nasty if you don’t know the good farming spots. And even then, it still requires more time than is probably necessary or appropriate to finish mastering a class. So make sure you pick a class and stick with it, because changing is going to be a bitch. Otherwise, the penultimate boss was a very difficult fight should you not cheese it.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
But despite these two heavy weights, Bravely Default still rises and surpasses expectations, even Square Enix’s to the point that its success, despite being a traditional turn-based RPG, made them re-evaluate their game making processes, focusing less on just appealing to the West.
So, do I recommend Bravely Default? Of course I do. If you are looking for a good, solid, immersive game to keep you entertained for a fair length of time with lots of quality content, amazing music, and fun game play, especially since you can take your 3DS on the go, then go out and pick up this game. Just try to hold out through its dry bits during the second half, and when you assign your party roles, stick to them to avoid the monotony of job leveling.
And that’s all she wrote. I might just redo my Bravely Second review while I’m at it, but you never know. I hope this has given you the information needed to make a sound decision on purchasing this game or not.