Review: Bravely Default 2

Bravely Default 2 is the third installment in the Bravely franchise, but features a completely standalone story. This makes this JRPG suitable for both returning and brand new players on Nintendo Switch.

The first Bravely Default game appeared on the Nintendo 3DS to much acclaim. It didn't take long for a sequel called 'Bravely Second'. Bravely Default 2 was therefore quite a surprise. Fortunately, in practice it is a little less confusing than it seems. Bravely Second is a direct sequel to Bravely Default. Bravely Default 2 is a new story and is separate from the first part. Although it obviously builds on the mechanics that the series introduced on the Nintendo 3DS.

The JRPG bingo card

Bravely Default 2 is a purebred JRPG (Japanese Role Playing Game). This doesn't necessarily mean it's a Japanese-origin RPG, but it typically plays like a Japanese-origin RPG. It is a large sub-genre within the RPG titles that many games fit into. Also including Final Fantasy (from the same developer and publisher, Square Enix). While Final Fantasy has taken a more modern approach over the years with a new combat style, drawing style and perspective, the fan base of the more traditional Final Fantasy titles is still very large. It therefore feels as if Square Enix also wants to scratch the backs of all these fans with Bravely Default. It plays, feels and shares many of the same charms and quirks as an Old School JRPG. Even the set-up of the story is one that you can see coming from miles away.

The story is about the heroes of light, of which you are a part. Your joining this gang of four seems very coincidental. You wake up on a beach after a shipwreck and you don't remember how it happened, you've forgotten everything. By accident, a hidden power awakens inside you as you try to save someone from a bunch of villains. Now it is clear. You are the chosen one. You must retrieve the crystals from the 5 kingdoms to restore balance to the world. And so the real adventure begins.

Brave or Default?

Bravely Default 2 incorporates the game's naming convention directly into the battles. It's a turn-waiting kind of JRPG. Each member of your party and each enemy may attack in turns. A meter that fills up below your character's life bar will show you approximately when it's their turn. This does not apply to enemies. You don't see when it's their turn, but show a small warning triangle when they are about to make their move. When it is their turn, the same rule applies as for the player. Brave or Default?

A unique system in this JRPG is the Brave and Default system. You can save turns, and then discharge in one go. You can also sacrifice future turns to make several moves at once. Using this system strategically can help you tremendously with difficult bosses, but through the bulk of the game it also helps you enormously to relax the 'necessary' grind. With the Brave option, you sacrifice 1BP (Brave Point) to perform an extra action. This allows you to immediately take out weak monsters to collect XP, for example. After each battle, your BP is reset to 0. So if you're confident of your victory, you can sacrifice your future turns to do a lot of damage now.

In addition to saving and deploying multiple turns at once, the combat system in Bravely Default 2 isn't all that different from your traditional turn-based JRPG. You can attack with the weapon in your hand. If the enemy has a weakness for this type of weapon, deal extra damage. You can also use items from your inventory such as life potions and throwing knives. Finally, you have different spells and special attacks that you can perform depending on the type of role your character has taken on.

Work flexibly

The class system in Bravely Default 2 is not set in stone. It's not necessarily that character X is a wizard and character Y is a thief. You can change classes at any time using the 'Jobs' system. You can then train all these classes separately for each character to unlock new actions. You start with the Freelancer and the Black Mage Job, but as you progress through the story you unlock new Jobs. For each character you can enter which Job you will give to which character. You can then also adjust the equipment accordingly. Black Mages use magical spells. If you give a character with a Black Mage Job a magic wand, their magical attack power goes up.

There are several ways to level up Jobs so that in the case of the Black Mage, you unlock more and stronger spells. The most obvious way to level up is by fighting monsters. Like XP for your own level, you also get JP to train your Jobs with.

There are also plenty of side activities such as quests to tackle. These vary from species to species and most are fairly basic commands. Still, there are occasionally quite entertaining quests that allow you to learn more about the world and the characters. While playing the story and completing it, you can have conversations with your group that make the characters in your group come to life even more.

Old and new

Bravely Default 2 is really an Old School JRPG at its core, but there are some new elements here and there that taste very good with this role-playing game. For example, Bravely Default 2 introduces a passive way to progress while you're not playing. Early in the story you gain access to a ship that you can send out to sea. The ship can be in transit for up to 12 hours before returning to port. The time of this boat trip continues even when your Nintendo Switch is in sleep mode. Once the ship returns, you will receive various rewards for your journey. The rewards are random each time, but at least come in the form of money, XP orbs, and JP orbs. So even when you're not playing, you can raise your own level and your Jobs to a higher level. It's a nice extraalthough it wasn't as entertaining as theStreetPass minigame in the first part on the 3DS.

Another pleasant change in Bravely Default 2 is that there are no more random battles. If you are familiar with old JRPG titles, where Pokémon is also a great example, you are also familiar with 'Random Encounters'. In Bravely Default 2 you always see the enemies in the picture. In dungeons, but also in the world you move in to travel from one location to another. This way you can try to avoid enemies so that you don't get into a fight. Or you can choose to fight as many battles as possible. It is up to you. At least you won't be bothered with (if you're unlucky) a Random Encounter after every 3 steps you take.

Bob Ross is a Chibian

Bravely Default 2 generally has a very nice drawing style. Just like in my story so far, Square Enix also knows how to make a nice combination between new and old. The drawing style mixes a more modern graphic style with Old School elements such as old-fashioned icons and a typical old-fashioned Japanese design for enemies. The world itself is full of details. Mainly the important locations you visit such as cities. These are drawn in a kind of painting-like way and it is simply very beautiful to see. Something I had to get used to was the drawing style of the characters. They are all chibis (little cute dolls with big heads). Something traditional Japanese again. It doesn't really fit with the rest of the game's look. As if they don't belong in the world. The more I playedthe more peace I got with it and at some point I even started to appreciate it. You notice that many different styles are used in Bravely Default 2. The upper world, cities, dungeons and so on, all differ in style and perspective.

You could actually say that Bravely Default 2 is kind of a celebration of the JRPG genre and shows this with a lot of elements that are not necessarily new, but fit well together. You can also hear in the music of the game that it is a true JRPG. The Battle Theme sounds like Battle Theme and has a fairly simple course. This really gives off an old-fashioned JRPG feel. The opening theme, on the other hand, sets a grand and heavenly tone. The tone of a great and heroic adventure. You might place this sound more at a slightly more modern version of a JRPG.

 

Verdict

Bravely Default 2 hits almost all the right strings. Square Enix takes the old Final Fantasy games as a formula, but transforms it into something completely new in this unique JRPG for Nintendo Switch. It combines old elements, with smart, new and flexible elements. This approach is not only tangible while playing, but also perceptible and audible while playing.

I can easily recommend Bravely Default 2 to anyone who enjoys an Old School JRPG. But also to fans of more modern JRPGs as this title brings enough novelty to build a bridge between old and new. Unfortunately, some old-fashioned quirks remain somewhat intact even with all the improvements. Grinding is also part of this JRPG, although you can turn the game a bit easier in the settings.

 

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