Bravely Default came to North America last February, and now, almost 8 months later I have finally finished the game. It wasn’t an easy road to completion. The poor ergonomics of the 3DS combined with my Tendonitis forced me to give up on the game for several months. After a few months of physical therapy to cure my Tendonitis, completing moving in to my new house and the birth of my daughter I was able to find the time to complete the game. After picking up the game however I had forgotten where I was in the game and what I was doing. It took some time to get back in the swing of things.
The game plays like the previously reviewed Bravely Default Demo but is much, much, MUCH longer. I put about 90 hours into completing the main quest and I did an additional 10 hours of post clear content. Not all of this felt strictly necessary – the game has a nasty habit of making you repeat playing through previously completed areas which gets old fast. In fact, to get the best ending you must repeat the primary four dungeons five times each. I’m OK with a little repetition, but FIVE is beyond excessive. (For reference 3 is the most that is acceptable, and 4 is excessive)
I played the game mostly on the hardest difficulty which may have been a mistake. I found towards the middle of the game that I wasn’t doing much damage to my enemies, even though I was at quite a high level and had decent equipment. It appears that the developers intend for you to abuse the game mechanics to the point of breaking the game entirely. For example – using a specific skill you can poison yourself to gain additional actions (Brave Points), and then you can attack four times in a single turn. Later in the game when you start maxing out your character classes (jobs) you can make yourself virtually invincible and put the battle on auto play. At that point the game plays itself and you don’t need to input any battle commands at all.
To defeat the ultimate boss in the game on hard mode I found that it was nearly impossible to win in a fair fight. After one 45 minute match which I ultimately lost I set my team up to use a cheap “You can’t hit me so I can’t lose” combination and set the game on Auto. Every hour or so I checked on the game to see how it was going and after several hours I did eventually win. Least fulfilling win ever, but yeah, I won.
When I explained to my wife why my 3DS was on all day running a game she thought it was the dumbest thing she’d ever heard. Based on Internet forums I think several other people agree. There are threads dedicated to finding ways to beat the final boss legitimately, but most of them are for the ‘Normal’ difficulty and did not work on ‘Hard’. I found that after nearly 100 hours of game play I was ready to be done and I didn’t care how I beat him.
One common complaint I saw online around the time the game launched was about the pervy old dude that mentors your crew. He certainly was a total perv, but he seemed consistent with the tone of the rest of the game so I hardly feel it is fair to pick on him. The costumes for the lady characters (such as the ‘Bravo Bikini’) are certainly not anything I’d like to see my newborn daughter wearing into battle in the future. I understand that the costumes were ‘tamed down’ from their original Japanese versions for American audiences, and even adjusted the ages of the main characters to be more appropriate. One forum post I read summed the difference up as ‘In Japan: 15 year olds in Lingerie, in America: 18 year olds in short skirts.’
This review may sound very negative but the game is quite enjoyable. You don’t put 100 hours into a game you don’t enjoy, and while this game is far from flawless it has a lot to like. The music is top notch, the battle mechanics are fantastic and the job/skill system is as in deep as any I’ve seen. There are a ton of memorable characters, and lots of extra content. Streetpass is featured heavily and friends you’ve met on Streetpass can even be summoned into battle to help you out. Even with its flaws, Bravely Default is a lot of fun and can be enjoyed by any fan of traditional RPG games.
- Lengthy, Traditional RPG.
- Top Notch Music.
- Battle Mechanics (Brave / Default system).
- Repeating Dungeons.
- Repeating Dungeons.
- Repeating Dungeons.