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Monday, June 2, 2014

Bravely Default- First Impressions

Bravely Default has been a long time coming, and JRPG fans such as myself were ecstatic to hear that this game would finally be coming stateside. It, much like Xenoblade or Ni no Kuni, had been one of those Japan-exclusive games that promised to bring some newfound life to our stagnant, dying genre… which is neither stagnant nor dying (seriously, there have been more great JRPGs in recent years than I would care to mention), but I digress. School and social matters collided around the time of this game’s release, and I regretfully was unable to devote any time to it after about the two hour mark. I finally was able to give Bravely Default a proper shot once I reached the summer, and if my fifteen hours and recent entry into the second chapter are any indication, Bravely Default has successfully gotten its hooks into me.

Bravely Default has been heralded as a return to the classic Final Fantasy style, but in truth it is quite a bit more than a simple throwback. While it began as a sequel to the underrated DS gem Final Fantasy- the 4 Heroes of Light, the game’s developers have stressed their desire to use Bravely Default as the beginning of a new franchise, with an identity firmly its own. With the presence of airships and spells like Thundaga, not to mention a Job system very reminiscent of Final Fantasy V, Bravely Default definitely goes out of its way to remind you of the Fantasies of ages past, but time will tell if it succeeds in escaping their shadow. If this is to be the beginning of a new series, however, it is a very promising one.

I’ll admit, at first I found the English voice acting in Bravely Default to be rather stilted and dry, which kept me from truly appreciating the artistic prowess present in the gorgeous hand-drawn backgrounds or eclectic musical score by Japanese artist Revo. As I warmed up to the characters, however, my attitude towards their voices changed, and aside from that the game also offers a very customizable experience, with the ability to not only switch to Japanese vocals, but also to adjust the difficulty, random encounter rate, and several other factors that can tailor the experience to the player’s interests.

I’ll keep myself from talking about specific game mechanics or story details until the review, but suffice it to say that I am very glad I was able to give Bravely Default another try. It’s a wonderful RPG, and while it might not be the most innovative or original game you’ll ever play, it does enough to differentiate itself from its Final Fantasy brethren while at the same time paying appropriate homage to them. If you own a 3DS and have any interest in these kinds of games, I would encourage you to give this one a try, or at the very least play the demo available on the eShop.     

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