Bravely Default II Review – Perfect Throwback RPG


Welcome back to another Friday Fun post. Time to take a break from the seriousness of finance and relax with a good video game review.

I recently started playing a newly released (February 26th to be exact) title on the Nintendo switch Bravely Default II. I’m not familiar with the original bravely default game in the series, but man am I glad I picked this one up. I’m a big time JRPG turned based, strategy style game. The longer the game takes the better. I want 60+ hours of gameplay, gotta get my money’s worth right?

In any case, I’ve yet to really find a game on the switch that scratched my Role Playing Game itch, but Bravely Default II did just that. It’s got a perfect mix of complexity, strategy, difficulty, and grinding ( I love me some level grinding) all mixed in.

Story Line

So I’m only into chapter 3 of 6 so far, so my opinion of the storyline might change after I’ve completed the game, but as of right now, it’s basically your typical RPG story. Hero with no memory suddenly finds himself on a quest to recover four elemental crystals from a big bad guy. Nothing that’s going to win an Oscar, but still a tried and true storyline with its own unique twists and turns so far to make it enjoyable.

The four main characters themselves are enjoyable in their interactions and I don’t find myself mindlessly skipping most scenes. There are a few days I’ve gotten impatient and skipped ahead, but I think that’s true for any game.

Brave\Default Battle System

One of the things that first got my attention about the game was its title, it’s relatively odd. I mean, come on, Bravely Default, who thought of that one? Although the name isn’t great, the use of the twist on the typically battle system is incredibly fun. Basically, you have your typical turned-based style, with two new options, Brave and Default. Each of these adds a new strategic element to battles, especially boss battles.

When choosing Default, you are essentially giving up that turn to defend. However, when coming back around to that character, you’ll now be able to perform two actions instead of one. You can do this consecutively and bank the ability to do up to four turns at once!

On the flip side, using the Brave option you can immediately use up to four actions on the same turn, but now that character’s turn is skipped until they repay that debt. So if you are looking to end a battle quickly, you can immediately all-out blitz your opponent with the brave option, but if you need to time your attacks, you can save up with the default action.


Not only can you use the two options, but so can your opponents. The bad guys can save up their attacks or suddenly go it a frenzy at any moment. This creates a beautiful balance you must keep up between attacking and defending at all times.

I’ve had some epic back and forth battles with a few of the bosses where you are almost out of it and can bring everyone back with only one character and vise versa having a boss totally let loose on me basically destroying my entire party. It’s a ton of fun knowing that battles can swing at any moment.

Job System

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You’ll be able to take on many jobs

I love the job system as well. It’s got enough complexity where you can change and customize your characters to fit your style while still keeping it very simple. Each job has its strengths and weaknesses and step one of putting together your party for any particular battle starts here. Not only does each job change your overall abilities, but they all unlock passive abilities that you can use no matter what job a character is currently assigned. You can go all in on magic attack with a black mage, physical attack with a sword master, defense with a shield master, or healing with a white mage, or a variety of other skills depending on each role, or you can try to round them out a bit. On top of that, you are allowed one sub role as well letting each character be a bit more adaptable instead of having to constantly change.

The game also does a great job of not letting you totally max out each character with every job. I mean, if you really wanted to you could, but that would be a lot of grinding. Instead, you can pick and choose which character will level up with each job. As soon as you think you’ve got your party up to snuff, you acquire the ability to assign a few more jobs and you’re back to grinding, which is right where I want to be.


Strategy\Difficulty

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Boss Battles are Tough

With all the above being said, the game provides just the right amount of difficultly. Very few bosses have been a total breeze, most have been rather difficult (many of which I was hanging on for dear life) and many I’ve had to repeat several times. Normally, I would just go back out into the world and do some grinding, but that wouldn’t solve my problems here. It would help, but I would still need to employ some strategy.

What this mostly meant was going back and tinkering with three things, jobs, passive abilities, and equipment. I could spend a half hour alone going through a bunch of different configurations and using different equipment to best get the job done. Instead of mindlessly just need to level grind, I had to put my brain to work, which believe it or not is a good thing. When finally defeating a boss that game me trouble, it felt that much better.

Rare Monsters

Another fun aspect thrown into the game is the rare monsters. These again are a solid mix of relatively beatable to absolute nightmares to battle against. Both the pre-battle strategy of putting together the right party and the in-battle strategy of the Brave\Default system really shine in some of these battles. As a reward, you hope for one of the rare drops, providing you with an awesome weapon or piece of armor. Of course, you don’t get them every time so even after beating a super hard baddie, you might need to do it again!

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Rare Monsters Aren’t Hiding

The other great part about these monsters is that you’ll know where to find them. There is no mindlessly wandering around the world map where you think you might find them and hope for random encounters. They are right there in the open ready to fight when you are, so when after you gear up your squad it’s battle time.


Side Quests

The side quests might be the weakest part of the game as a whole, but that doesn’t mean they are bad. For the most part, the NPCs will give you relatively easy quests. Mostly a go get this, beat this type of monster a few times type deal. Rarely do you find one that will take that long (again, I’m maybe halfway through the game, so this could change). The rewards are helpful, but nothing that advances you all that much. Look, I’ll take these types of side quests over nothing, they’ve become a staple in RPGs for a reason.

Sailing

This aspect of the game was a surprise to me. What the game allows you to do is “sail” around collecting treasure from other islands. This is a completely passive function and feels more like the “idle” type game you’d find for your phone. The rewards are pretty random, in both frequency and type. The game lets you sail for twelve hours at a time and will run as long as the game is open, even if the switch goes into sleep mode. I’ve come back to basically nothing and to a literal boatload of treasure. The rewards vary from just a bit of currency to Exp for your character or Job Level, to stat boosters for your team. At first, it feels a little cheap, but it has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the game.

Tips

I won’t go into great detail but here are some basic tips:

  • Always customize your party jobs, abilities, and equipment for boss\rare monster battles
  • Always be sailing
  • Don’t sell anything – I’ve used the most basic equipment later in the game because it was my only option or had a side effect I needed
  • Pick the jobs you want each character to learn wisely, they can’t learn them all
  • Level up the Freelancer Job for each character right away as they have passive abilities that let you level up other jobs faster

Conclusion

I’m sure I’ve left out a lot about this game that I like, but that’s only because there is soooo much to like. Being over 40 hours in and maybe halfway through the game is beyond awesome to me and I’m greatly enjoying not only the twists in the storyline, but the unique battle system and the difficulty I’m having with many bosses and monsters. Too many times I buy a game and easily rip through even the toughest of bosses simply because I level grind enough. If you haven’t heard of this game or weren’t sure if it was for you, I can safely say that if you are an old school JRPG fan like me, you’ll definitely love this one.

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