Shut Up and Take My Money: Bravely Default
You know how new Final Fantasy games aren’t like they used to be? Well this one is! Bravely Default, for Nintendo 3DS, is the greatest thing to happen to old school Final Fantasy fans since the popularization of cosplay… which is funny considering that it’s technically not part of the Final Fantasy series.
But the name is the only thing that differentiates it – Bravely Default has all the elements of a classic Final Fantasy game, including the job systems, gameplay, enemies, airships… even the four crystals are back!
Bravely Default has the feel of a classic RPG, but updated to satiate the attention-deficits and need for stimulation of our modern times. (Thanks smartphones…)
For starters, sprites! Realist characters are fine… but there’s just something about sprites.
But fans of classic RPGs will appreciate the gameplay. It follows in the footsteps of Final Fantasy V, which worked a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics, but with the classic dungeon-crawling and 2D fighting known to other Final Fantasy games. Basically, it’s like other Final Fantasy games, except you can change between 20+ jobs at will, with each job offering its own special abilities and stat changes.
All your favorite Final Fantasy jobs are there, plus some brand new ones. There’s the staples Black Mage, White Mage, Thief, Monk, and Knight (Warrior) that have been around since the very beginning, and on top of them there’s Valkyrie (Dragoon by another name), Performer, Ninja, Summoner, and the self-deprecating Dark Knight. Each job gains levels with Job Points, earned at the end of battles along with Experience Points. Every new job level unlocks a new job ability, either an action ability used in combat, or a passive support ability equipped outside of combat.
But aside from the old-fashioned RPG gameplay, the other reminiscent feature of this game is its quality storyline. This is literally the first time in over a decade that a video game moved me and made me think. As early as the opening movie, the story shows its dark side and lets you know it has a mature awareness. The plot may be generic (save the world), but the individual scenes and character development, coupled with some philosophical dialogues that made me stop and go “hmmm…”, really reminded me of why I fell in love with RPGs in the first place.
Well, it’s in 3D… that’s new…
But more importantly (and easier on the eyes), one of the reasons that RPGs changed is because the old format can’t hold the attention of new audiences. Grinding – going around fighting random battles for experience points – just isn’t as entertaining as it used to be. Luckily, Bravely Default reinvents the Final Fantasy fighting system to keep you interested for over 100 hours of gameplay. They introduce the opinions of “Brave” and “Default.” Basically, you can either credit or debit your turns! That means you can do up to four actions in a single turn (but then you can’t act for three turns), or essentially Defend for 3 turns and then unleash a power 4-tiered assault without penalty. This opens up endless possibilities for strategy, plus makes fights a lot more fun.
Other updates include customizations for both difficulty and random encounters. At any point in the game, you can switch between Easy, Medium, and Hard (and believe me, Hard is hard! Talk about appealing to classic gamers…). You also have the option of doubling the occurrences of random encounters for gaining levels, or turning them off completely, which comes in handy if you want to face a boss with all your HP and MP.
The Final Word:
Games like this only come around once for a console. Whether you’re a long-time lover of the Final Fantasy series to someone who’s just discovering it… this game will be sure to satisfy.