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The Second Half of Bravely Default: How to Almost Ruin a Great Game

*NOTE* If you at all care about spoilers then you might not want to read this. I’m going to try and be as vague as possible but read at your own risk.

Bravely Default ReviewI just completed Bravely Default a few minutes ago and I’m left feeling mixed emotions. Not because I’m sad that it’s over or because I found the ending good or bad, but because I can’t quite decide how I felt about the experience as a whole. Earlier I made a post about game length, and at that point I was near the end of the game’s fourth chapter and around 40 hours in. To be completely honest I think the game should have ended maybe a little after that.

The problem with the second half of Bravely Default is that for some unknown, but assuredly unbelievably stupid, reason they decided to make the final 4 chapters a quicky version of the first four. I don’t mean as a whole, either. Chapters 5, 6, 7, and 8 have you very quickly replaying the events of the first four chapters FOUR additional times just at a quicker pace. All of the side missions are just to defeat the bosses you already defeated but the main goal is to awaken every crystal again. All of this happens with very little dialogue change as well. I won’t bother going into the details of why this is happening in the narrative but that wouldn’t be an excuse for it anyway. A game that has you replay content over and over until it makes you ill can’t be justified even if it fits within the story. I mean, even the characters start to remark about the ridiculousness of this.

I feel conflicted because I still really enjoyed the game. The combat and jobs and all other aspects of the game are top notch. I just cannot understand why they felt the need to pad the game out with extreme levels of repetitiveness. Bravely Default seems to have received many great reviews but I have to wonder how many of them only take into account the first half of the game and not the whole experience. I won’t say that Bravely Default is a bad game because it really isn’t. However I think the second half of the game keeps it from being truly exceptional.

Unexpected side effect: I think I finally understand why Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day started to lose his mind.

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Comments

  1. Curious George says:

    Repetition is the sign of uncreative designers. Something the gaming industry is plagued with.

  2. I am really enjoying the game, but fear for this part.

    I am rather notorious about leaving games unfinished. And will be hard pressed to do content ALL OVER again. We shall see.

  3. MY COMMENT MIGHT HAVE MORE SPOILERS THAN THIS POST, STILL TRYING TO BE VAGUE, BUT BE WARNED

    I agree, but I still loved that part of the game. It really hammered home the narrative perfectly, and felt far more experimental than what I would expect from most JRPGs. I mean, the game starts off more or less like every other JRPG. It isn’t until you get to those later areas where it begins to get truly weird (and frankly comes into its own).

    They could’ve done a bit more with it though. I did every sub-mission each time just for the tiny bits of new dialogue (which were usually worth it). I suppose it makes sense, narratively-speaking, that these worlds are all pretty similar, but something other than straight retreads would’ve been great.

    I also loved how they included your friends list in the true final boss battle. It reminded me of the explanation for different servers for Ultima Online. I love when games work in their features into the narrative structure of the game!

  4. @Murf I got to see the worlds of Friend-Bot, Pal-Bot, and Amigo-bot. Wohoo!

  5. Sounds very similar to World of Warcraft end-game?

  6. Graev when you made your first blog post about braverly default I already knew about the lacking later chapters, but decided not to mention it in order not to spoil it.

    Myself I am looking forward to the new thief game and plants vs zombies garden warfare also looks like fun, but Ill wait for the pc release.

  7. That is unfortunate and here I agree that they should have just ended the game prior to the repetitive last chapter.

    It is an interesting phenomena that one can enjoy the vast majority of an experience (whether it be a book, movie, game, or relationship), and an unsavory ending taints it all.

    I certainly have experienced this. While logically I should have still deemed Battlestar Galactica (the modern version) to be an overall excellent series (albeit extending a fair amount of creative licence, like when someone can crawl into an organic lifeform and make it fly by just pushing at random damaged organ fragments), the ending killed the entire experience for me.

    SPOILER ALERT!

    Well one for Battlestar Galactica that is…

    I thought I was watching a science fiction series over the course of the seasons, only to be completely disenchanted when I realized in the last few minutes of the last show that instead it was a pseudo-religious proselytization attempt under the guise of fantasy story set in space. Everything being explained by a deus ex machina ending that was no more complex than “Angels did it!”

    I didn’t watch Lost, but people seem to express similar resentment.

    On the other hand I do suppose it would have been pretty cool if Luke ended up making the tauntaun get up and do a little dance on Hoth by tickling its cecum, but unfortunately science isn’t always fully revered in science fiction.

    http://io9.com/5931217/science-proves-luke-skywalker-should-have-died-in-the-tauntauns-belly

  8. I’m absolutely loving the game thusfar, and although I’m a little sad about the repetitiveness of the second half, I just look at it as a throwback to many of the Dragon Quest games: “Awaken a bunch of crystals, fight the final boss, BUT WAIT that wasn’t the REAL final boss, do it again!”

    I’m also a little bummed that some people aren’t able to utilize the StreetPass and Friend code features to their full extent. I live in Minneapolis and take the bus/walk everywhere and I get somewhere between 3 and 10 StreetPasses a day! I currently have a town population of 50, and they are completing the very last level of the last 2 buildings I have. Maybe I just live in a geeky city? Also, at least 2 of my friends have the game as well, so it’s been neat to call them in for backup and to link their characters’ abilities to mine.

  9. I think the point of the last few chapters is actually “challenge content”. It’s the main reason that none of the subquests actually prevent you from reaching the crytsals anymore.

    They’re harder versions of all the bosses. “Oh, that one was too easy?” next world gives even ‘harder’ versions. They’re meant to challenge you while giving fun tidbits about all the characters you’ve faced as you go through each world.

    Don’t like it? Just beat the crystal bosses again. They’re easier than all the subquests, and takes probably an hour tops to get through all the crystals.

    The story gives room for basically putting endgame content before the actual ending. And the repetition to a point was to convey what you were doing.

    Basically: After the first unlock, subquests are just that: sub quests.

    They add several additional hours of gameplay, but aren’t necessary to the story. If you don’t like that part, you can just move on, and very quickly.

    Personally, i had parts i both hated and loved about it. But the final worlds challenge subquests were by far some of the most frustrating and rewarding bosses i’ve seen in ages. Given the games premise of a job system, i think it’s great they found somewhere to put content that actually ‘challenged’ you to use those jobs properly.

  10. dustmouse says:

    I just started Ch. 7 and I’m baffled by the nosedive this game took at Ch. 5. I can understand this kind of gimmick in an old school game where there were size constraints, and thus they had to find “creative” ways to make a game longer. But it just feels like a cop out here. Like you mentioned, they don’t even change the dialog much.

  11. I’m curious how far everybody who is commenting here, and the OP, have gotten, because nobody has mentioned Airy.

  12. joe Joe says:

    It ruined the game for me. For the first four chapter I had so much fun, and then after chapter 5 it became a chore to point I did not even want to finish the game. Awakening those stupid crystals over and over and over became boring and tedious.

    They could have ended the game at chapter 5 and I wouldn’t complain a bit for one half of the game you do all this work only to repeat the same thing over and over the entire second half is bad game design.

    This game is incredibly overrated. Its a good game but for all the hype it had, the second half is a totail failure

    The storyline became predictable too. It was already stupid enough, but the whole “let’s just awaken the crystals again and again and again!” Became so boring.

  13. Fahza Lee says:

    The time loop thing in this game is ridiculous. At least cut out 2 or 3 of the extra loops. The characters themselves didn’t even seem to believe they were doing it over and over again. The narrative doesn’t even give a believable reason for them to do so. You have *SPOILERS* everyone (almost literally everyone, including two of the main four) telling them that what they’re doing is probably not right. But once a scene ends you get a yellow indicator saying that you still need to go awaken the crystals.

    Even after they realize they can’t trust Airy they’re STILL doing exactly what she wants??? It just makes me angry because you get so much dialogue about stuff that doesn’t even matter (party chats that go anywhere from talking about recent events to who Ringabel recently asked out) but the characters barely talk about or confront this major issue and allow themselves to go through the loop and then they’re totally shocked that they have to repeat the events as if doing the exact same thing each time would produce different results…. I mean come on already.

    I really liked this game at first. It had a simplistic style that I liked and I love anything with job classes and changing outfits but yeah they goofed with the looping. Give the characters true, realistic doubt. None of the characters were really ever that interesting, but it’s when they are faced with this situation that you start to realize why: they’re poorly drawn and essentially husks with caricatures painted on top. If they decide that proceeding is their best choice, explain why they think it’s a good choice…it is never clear. And the greatest sin of all is having them say nearly the exact same thing with every loop. If you’re going to keep the game interesting, make them seek out something different from each character and situation so they could have a better, holistic understanding. Unfortunately, they only really do this in Lord DeRosso’s castle near the top and during the Conjurer sidequest.

    The looping itself isn’t the crime, it’s the execution. See Grimgrimoire for a game that actually successfully tells a good story using a similar concept. The main character realizes that looping actually has advantages because you can essentially learn everything there is to learn. What’s better is she never makes the same mistake twice.

    So that’s my rant…haha…. It is really painful to see a game as charming as this ruined by what appears to be laziness. I agree with the original poster who says that reviews of this game were far too generous and probably didn’t have reviewers who beat it.