I don’t normally post about games here. That’s because some of the games I play aren’t ones that would fit in here, or are 3DS ones like X/Y or New Leaf or EO4. Which are all fun and good but it’s hard for me to sum it up as much more than that.
But Bravely Default was different for me. I never thought I’d come to enjoy a SQEX JRPG, especially one so inspired by Final Fantasy. I fell in love with it and despite the bumps the game had along the way, I continued loving it right to the very end.
Unmarked spoilers of varying degree ahead.
Now for me a real big problem I have with JRPGS is that I can’t seem to finish them. I usually get to the very last stage/dungeon/area and stop playing. I loved Tales of Graces, ripped through that in no time but stopped right at the end. SO4? Well SO4 was garbage and I was underleveled with no way to head back to grind. Tales of Vesperia? Loved it, played to the end and stopped before completion. Heck, the same could be said of Pokemon games with me.
So I was scared from the getgo that might happen. But it makes number three. Tales of Xillia and Eternal Sonata being the only other two I recall finishing.
I would find myself constantly losing hours into this game. More often in the second half which is tedious and annoying and therefore easy to lose time on. So I guess we’re starting off with one of the things I really disliked about the game.
Which was the second half of the game. Without going into too much detail, you have to fight all the bosses again. Well, you don’t have to fight ALL of them. Most of them are optional and only four are required. But did anybody really skip all those character boss fights? Really? Why?
Storywise, it’s cool and it’s a neat idea at first but it gets tiring very quickly after fighting the exact same bosses for the third or fourth time. Because instead of exploring again, or meeting new people you’re flying back and forth between bosses checking them off like a list of chores that needs to be done.
To the game’s credit, each time is spiced up a bit. After the first (and second?) time they start to form groups. Some that make sense and some that were unexpected but appreciated (GIRL POWER).
The whole reason you keep fighting them is for character building and development, though. At least that was my reason at first. I felt bad in the first world slaughtering these people left right and center so the chance to have them walk away afterwards was really appreciated. But more than that, fighting them over and over in different conditions made them more and more fleshed out. Characters that had seemed so one-dimensional at first suddenly began acting like people with unexpected sides to them and unexpected relationships and emotions and I loved that!
So one of the biggest annoyances in the game also has a big bright side to it.
And that bright side is the same as my favourite thing about the game! It’s characters. Tiz and Agnes started off pretty dull and flat. Let’s be real. Who was super interested in them with Ringabel and Edea there? They eventually grew on me and started showing more personality. Though I wasn’t invested in them as I was with Ringabel and Edea, I was still rooting for them.
Ringabel and Edea. Together and as separate people are both so interesting. There’s were a lot of cute couples/relationships in this game but these two take the cake. Though both do get a lot of development and focus, their relationship doesn’t really evolve. Which is acceptable (more like expected) from a game like this, but considering how much they teased us with it, it’s a bit of a slap in the face when it goes nowhere. Furthermore, Edea’s reaction to his cute antics remains cold until the end. There were a few time she said some kinda endearing things toward him but otherwise she showed no sign of buding.
Ringabel was a surprisingly good character. Though he and Edea were more interesting than Agnes and Tiz from the beginning, Ringabel’s past didn’t really come up for a long time. The focus was on the other three characters for quite some time. It’s strange though! I had guessed Ringabel’s real identity early on around the time of the fire crystal but the game had tried to prove me wrong. Then, later on, it turns out that identity was correct and Ringabel really was Alternis. Just not in the way I imagined.
Which ties into the ending I don’t quite understand. If his Edea/Agnes/Tiz were already defeated and killed, how could he go back to save them? Did he just go back to before that happened? And if Airy was in her gross form there, would they still have to go on to fight Ouroboros? Even though our group destroying him should have freed every other world from his grip? I realize that the novels are about this exact thing (Ringabel’s side of the story in the world he goes to at the end of the game) but first you recycle the second half of the game, sometimes without any new content, and then you can’t even spend a little extra time explaining the ending?
And that request isn’t really entirely dedicated to the Ringabel thing either. I was confused about what happened at the end to Tiz. See, I knew going into the game that Tiz died so when the credits started and he was still A-OK I thought I had simply been mislead. But then he just keels over and suddenly I was very confused. Then you have Airy’s sister who, if I recall correctly, was never mentioned or even had us lead to believe existed or was a thing. She just suddenly appears at the end.
You know what’s a bad thing to do? Have an unnamed, unknown character appear at the very end of your game as a deus ex machina to kill off another character and that was apparently the only reason that character was around. The only possible thing I can imagine is that she was the celestial being Ouroboros mentioned but even then, that’s a pretty bad reason to do what they did considering it had no point to anything at all.
The more I think about it, the more flaws in the story I think of. How come Alternis didn’t recognize Ringabel? Did Mephilia mentioning they were in another world ever come up more than once? Unless I missed it, I doubt that she did in her next appearance. Maybe I should go back and reread her journal entry.
It was a game I didn’t expect to love so much and though my hype towards it was dampened by the end and part two, I still had a great time. And that preview for Bravely Second was pretty exciting too. Even though the next game won’t feature Edea and Agnes as prominently (I was worried it would be set quite some time after BD and they’d all be old or dead but that doesn’t seem to be the case). But if they’re turning this into a big series, I gotta be prepared for that.
It might be nice to have a RPG series I await for faithfully. Tales counts I guess considering I bought a ps3 the day after Xillia was announced to be released here. But BD is more traditional in a sense so I find them to be too different beasts. Whether thats a good thing or not is yet to be seen. Because maybe Bravely Second will retain it’s spirit and heart but who knows how long that will last? They had talked about moving the Bravely series away from 3DS or onto other systems as well. After Second, will I still love the series so much I’d be willing to get a Vita? Eh…
So yeah! Bravely Default was fun enough. I didn’t 100% it but I still sunk about 80 hours into it. It had a really great job system that made sure the way everybody played was different and unique (personally Spell Fencer was my go to job) and a simple enough battle system. I think if/when I replay it I’ll try using different job classes than the ones I did here. Just to spice it up. Great music, great characters, great art and a not so great story. I think that the rest of the game should make up for that though. It certainly did for me.