Rating : 8/10
There is nothing more comfy for a RPG fan than a traditional JRPG where you have to travel and collect four magical crystals across a whimsical fantasy land. Bravely Default 2 is a classic JRPG game from Square Enix and is the third entry in the Bravely Default series, they aren’t very good with numbers apparently. Starting on the Nintendo 3DS, Bravely Default is a traditional RPG that takes heavy inspiration from Final Fantasy VI and focuses on game mechanics like the job system. Is Bravely Default 2 on the Switch just another JRPG to ignore or is it a brave new addition to your gaming library?
Disclaimer for anyone who might be interested in the game, you do not need to play any of the previous games to enjoy this one. Bravely Default 2’s story is completely self-contained and has a completely new cast of characters. Some gameplay mechanics and themes are shared between the games, but this is completely new player friendly.
Bravely Default 2 takes place in the continent of Excillant, which is divided into five unique kingdoms that happen to be extremely diverse in culture and appearance. The protagonist of this story is the young sailor Seth, the young princess Gloria, the traveling scholar Elvis, and the wayward mercenary Adelle. Gloria needs to collect the four elemental crystals across the land so she can restore her once lost kingdom and stop her sister Edna from the Night Nexus which will destroy all humans. The story, like all old JRPGs, is so convoluted and is definitely not the selling point of the game. You go around the continent, meet new characters, fight some boss battles, and collect some crystals with some character development smashed in between. I was never challenged by the story and I felt that it could have taken some risks with the story and its characters, but it’s a fun romp throughout this 30 hour epic.
Once again, Bravely Default is your bog standard turn-based JRPG like Dragon Quest and older Final Fantasy games, but with a slight twist on the formula. During combat you are allowed to attack and cast spells like normal, but you also have access to the brave and default commands. The default commands allow your chosen party member to defend for their turn and accumulate a Brave Point (BP) and each party member can have three at a time. The Brave Action is when you use BP and you can add extra moves to your turn and those points can even help unleash special attacks. This battle system allows for the player to think more strategically during combat and allows for every battle to feel engaging. A common complaint with JRPGs is that the combat can feel mindless and that regular battles are too easy. This issue is resolved because every enemy from a slime all the way to the final boss can use the same brave and default system as you which makes every battle intense. The one problem this system brings up is that it can make random battles tedious at times and makes grinding for Job points and level ups more frustrating.
The meat and potatoes of Bravely Default 2 is the job and weight management gameplay systems. The job system is back from the previous Bravely Default games and Final Fantasy games and allows each of party members to become a class of their choosing. Your main character starts out as a freelancer which gives you a ton of utility abilities for the overworld and combat. As the game progresses you will gain these powerful gems called asterisks which give you access to player classes such as Paladin, White Mage, Black Mage, and Monk. There are 23 jobs in total and each class has their own strengths and weaknesses and allows you to fine tune your team to any build you want. Elvis could become a Paladin and could learn shield bash so he could utilize that in his Red Mage build. The job system gives so much control to the player and allows no two players to have the same experience.
The weight system is very similar to the inventory weight system in the Elder Scrolls games. Depending on which class or level you are currently at determines how much weight your character can bear before your stats start to suffer. For example, you find a new axe that has a super high attack stat that inflicts poison. You have to look at how heavy it is and adjust your gear to match your weight limit. This makes the gear system more deep as you have to consider other factors than just what gear has the bigger number. You have to look at how much it weighs, what resistances it adds, and whether or not it will benefit you against the enemies you are currently fighting. It can be very confusing at times, but it does make the micro-managing aspect of the game more compelling.
It goes without saying that the soundtrack for this game slaps and is easily one of the best aspects from the game. Revo was the composer of the original Bravely Default on the Nintendo 3DS and provided the opening songs for the Attack On Titan Anime. The opening song of the game, “Another Overture of Hope ” is one of my favorites and sets the tone for the whole game as a classic JRPG adventure. The battle themes are great too and have the bombastic flare of a tense battle. The overall presentation is dramatically improved from the previous titles and shows the world of Excillant in HD. Although I like how the game looks I do think that they could have been more ambitious with the graphics as it is on the Switch which is a much more powerful system than the Nintendo 3DS.
Bravely Default 2 should net you around 30 hours if you strictly go through the critical without indulging in the side content. There are 24 jobs with 15 abilities each and some of the jobs are only obtained by completing specific side content like the Gambler job. The job system alone will add several hours, especially if you want to experience what every job has to offer. The side missions vary from tedious fetch quests to get a certain amount of crap from a dungeon to more story focused side missions that further develop your party. This would not normally be an issue, but there is no indication whether a side mission will be important or not. This dissuades the player from engaging with these side missions unless you really enjoy delivering someone’s lunch five times in a row.
Bravely Default 2 is a comforting and safe JRPG experience that understands why we play these types of games. It gives us an enjoyable combat system, in-depth customization, and an easy to follow tale of bravery and hope. This game will not challenge you or surprise you, but it is a master of what it does best. If you are a fan of old school JRPGs then you owe yourself to give this a shot, just don’t expect a revolutionary story.
Bravely Default 2 on the Switch is a competent JRPG that doesn’t really try anything new, but it does everything so well that it doesn’t even matter.