Date Completed: January 11th, 2013
It’s not exactly a full game but I put so much time into it that it might as well be. My long-time reader is probably already aware that I am a big fan of the Final Fantasy series. Bravely Default isn’t a Final Fantasy game but it’s from a lot of the same people who made Final Fantasy, and in a somewhat inaccurate way it can be considered a sequel to Final Fantasy : The 4 Heroes of Light.
The demo supposedly tells a unique story that is not part of the full game so I had no concern about re-playing a portion of the title. Some of the data from the demo is even transferred to the full title so it can be beneficial to play it.
The game plays like a traditional Final Fantasy game (i.e. the games there weren’t awful). It has turn based combat, and the abilities your characters can use in combat are based on their assigned job. Monsters are found roaming the wilderness and you beat them for money and experience points. Jobs level up separately from character levels and as jobs, up to a maximum level of 4 in the demo. Characters had a maximum level of 20. After a few job abilities have been learned you can mix and match what is equipped to your characters making some truly unique and devastating combinations.
The most interesting and unique part of combat is the brave/default mechanic. You can use the command ‘Default’ to go into a defensive mode and save up a turn. You can then use ‘Brave’ to spend a number of saved up turns (up to four) all at once. You can also go into negative turns, so if you know you can beat an enemy within 3 turns of combat you can choose to expend all of those turns all at once and beat them in a single round. Unfortunately if you go negative and you don’t defeat the enemy you just stand there and get pummeled until you reach a 0 balance again. It may sound complex but it is a very interesting system and make the game feel fresh and unique, in spite of its roots as a traditional FF game.
The music in the game is very catchy. I found myself whistling the main theme frequently while I was playing through the demo. Once again it reminded me of earlier Final Fantasy games where gameplay and ambiance mattered more than fully animated cut scenes and weird hair-dos.
The game features Streetpass capabilities which connect you with other players. Players you’ve tagged with Streetpass can be transferred to the full version if you buy it. Players you’ve tagged via Streetpass can be summoned into battle to attack your foes, and you can optionally send a move to Streetpass which players who have tagged you will then be able to use. There is also a Streetpass based mini-game that involves re-building a small town which eventually starts supplying you with better equipment. I never tagged anyone else legitamately with Streetpass, but since the demo was free I installed a copy of it on my wife’s 3DS so I’d have someone to Streetpass with.
I hadn’t intended to buy the game at launch since I already had Final Fantasy XIII-3, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD and Diablo III’s expansion all on pre-order but after playing the demo I changed my mind. The demo was so fun that I maxed out all my characters and purchased every piece of equipment available. I lost track of how much time I put into it but I’m sure it was over 10 hours. I have several full games that weren’t that long.
The only other thing I want to mention is that even though the game is free, it is limited to 30 uses. I mostly kept my 3DS in suspend mode while I was playing the game so I wouldn’t burn up one of my uses while I played it. I think I’m down to 22 left.
In short, the demo is free, fun and can be transferred to the full version if you buy it. I’d say that sounds like a winner to me!