Developed by Claytechworks and published by Nintendo, Bravely Default II is the most recent addition to the Bravely Series. Unlike the initial game and its direct sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer, Bravely Default II introduces us to brand new characters while still maintaining the JRPG style and turn-based battle system. What it manages to deliver is a well-told story, a great cast of characters and some fantastic combat.
Bravely Default II treads some familiar territory with its premise. You play as Seth, a sailor who mysteriously wakes up in the land of Excillant. There, he meets Gloria, Elvis and Adelle and the four of them set off on a journey to find and retrieve powerful crystals. Each one represents an element: Wind, Water, Earth and Fire. These crystals were previously stolen and have caused calamities all over. It’s up to your group of heroes to find them and prevent any more damage.
This isn’t the most original story and it does get off to a bit of a slow start, but things seem to become more interesting as you progress through the story. The characters are pretty well-written though and each one has a fair amount of depth. Something that complements this really nicely is the “Party Chat” function. This feature becomes available after events in the story or once a side quest has been completed. By hitting the “+” button, it triggers a conversation between the members of your party, giving them a chance to speak more about what just happened and also for you to learn a little more about them. The best thing about this is that it isn’t particularly forced onto the player and you are able to trigger these conversations at your leisure.
While the main story provides a decent narrative, there are also some side quests available throughout. There are a few good ones with decent story content, so it’s worth diving into if you want some more to do outside of the main quest. In terms of their structure, they don’t offer much in terms of variety since a lot of them amount to fetch quests or those that involve killing a specific enemy.
Bravely Default II makes use of a turn-based battle system, but with a bit of a twist. Aside from the usual commands such as “Attack”, “Magic” or “Item”, there are two additional commands: “Brave” and “Default”. “Brave” essentially allows you to make use of multiple turns in order to gain the upper hand on your enemy. “Default” will cause your character to take up a defensive position while also granting them an opportunity to attack more than once on their next turn. You are able to launch a flurry of attacks from the outset, but this will put your character’s turns into a deficit, resulting in waiting a little longer before they can act again.
It’s a very interesting system and adds a bit of a tactical element to the turn-based gameplay. You can slowly build up your turns and unleash some more damage on your enemy or steal turns in an attempt to end the fight quicker. It’s especially thrilling when going up against a boss since they offer more of a challenge compared to the normal enemies you’ll encounter.
There’s another layer of strategy in the battles where enemies have weaknesses to certain attacks; not only to elements but even to certain weapon types. Enemies can also be scanned, either by using an item or a skill, so it’s quite easy to learn their weakness and then quickly exploit it. However, enemies are also resistant to other kinds of attacks; this makes it imperative to have a team with a diverse range of skills to cover all of your bases.
Speaking of skills, Bravely Default II makes use of a Job system, which is essentially classes that can be changed at any point outside of battle. By the end of the prologue, you have access to four Jobs which can be equipped on your four characters, allowing for a good head start on diversity fairly early on. Just like the characters earn experience throughout the game, so too do your equipped Jobs, unlocking new active and passive abilities. Additional Jobs can be unlocked by collecting a mysterious artefact called Asterisks. Not only that, but each character is able to equip both a main and a sub-job, allowing for a wider range of skills in their arsenal. It’s a great system and it’s fun creating some powerful combinations.
The only downside of this is that Jobs take some time to level up and do so on a per job per character basis, so one character levelling up a job, will not entitle another character to the fruits of their levelling. At some point, you might hit a wall with a particular boss and then have to change up your jobs in order to beat them; this requires item usage or grinding in order to get the required points for that character.
On the topic of grinding, Bravely Default II factors this in as part of the experience. There will be times when normal enemies flee from you out of fear but the next boss might wipe the floor with you, requiring you to grind a little bit to stand a better chance of beating them. This is alleviated somewhat thanks to the fact that you’re able to speed up the battle, in addition to choosing to repeat a character’s action from the last turn. While this does make the grinding a little more palatable, it might be somewhat off-putting for some players.
Visually, Bravely Default II is presented in a 3D Chibi art style. Each character looks incredibly cute, both in combat and during cutscenes. Additionally, each location you visit takes on this diorama-esque presentation and it looks fantastic. The soundtrack is also pretty good, consisting of tracks with a cinematic style. The voice acting is good, for the most part. Some characters are voiced rather well, whereas others just feel out of place and somewhat forced.
Bravely Default II is a great JRPG. There’s a well-told story here with a nice cast of characters. The battle system is fantastic, adding a layer of strategy to the proceedings thanks to the “Brave” and “Default” commands, in addition to the Job system. There is grinding necessary here and there, which is embraced by the game, but might be a little off-putting for some players. It also looks fantastic and runs pretty well when playing handheld or docked. The voice acting is a little inconsistent though. Bravely Default II is a great new addition to the Switch’s library of JRPGs.
You can grab this game right here for £49.99
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