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Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Thoughts in Brief- Bravely Default

I like Bravely Default, which is a shame, because I wanted to love it.

…let me back up a bit.

I wrote my first impressions of Bravely Default when I was about fifteen hours into the game (on the second chapter) and was quite positive. I still think it’s a very good game- I now have almost thirty hours on the clock and I’m only in Chapter 4. The amount of customization the player has at their disposal is staggering, not only in terms of the in-depth Job System but in the ability to adjust the difficulty level and random encounter rate, which are features I wish more RPGs would adopt. The game’s artistic merits are also unquestionable- the areas you explore are drop-dead gorgeous and the music is phenomenal.

If you assume that there will be a ‘but’ following that sentence, then you, dear reader, are very astute.

All of those preceding elements are what keep me playing Bravely Default, but I’m really hoping that the story picks up soon. The banter between your party members is quite charming, but so far the only playable character with any real depth is Edea. The villains are also rather one-dimensional. They often display a single personality quirk that defines their entire character, and with rare exception have very little to say outside of their side quest arc, which the player undertakes to receive new Jobs. More importantly, the main story just isn’t really engaging me at the moment, though I’m told that it eventually expands into something a little more complex (I watched the secret postcredits video and was rather intrigued, so perhaps Bravely Default is saving the best for last?).

The game also has some pretty serious pacing issues, though these are somewhat mitigated by the ability to reduce the encounter rate. Still, having to backtrack to a city on the other side of the map, watch one cutscene, and then having to travel back to the other end of the globe to fetch something to bring back to the first city just feels unnecessary. Bravely Default feels like it’s spinning its wheels without having very many interesting story moments to support it, and it makes the game a lot more tedious to play.

That said, Bravely Default has a lot going for it. I was a fan of it's predecessor, The 4 Heroes of Light on DS (which was also a throwback to the classic Final Fantasy games), but I suppose that given the time it took for this game to get released and the reputation it acquired over time, my expectations may have been a tad higher for Bravely Default. I just wanted to like it more, and I hope that the aforementioned issues are addressed in the upcoming Bravely Second. I haven’t decided if I’m going to write a full review or continue with these shorter updates instead- we’ll see if Bravely Default can compel me to see its quest through to the end. My fingers are crossed!


  1. I've beaten the game myself, and I think its adherence to be like NES/SNES Final Fantasy (it's been nicknamed FF5-2 in my circles) ultimately holds it back, both mechanically and in narrative. That said, there's some story elements (like the repetition and its explanation) that I just found unforgivable. However, I won't spoil that.

    1. I kind of spoiled myself, unfortunately, so I know that things are about to get really repetitive, really fast... which is unfortunate. There are brilliant things in this game, but they're mired in some really baffling design decisions.