First Impressions of Bravely Default

bravely-default-boxartI’ve been playing a lot of Bravely Default these past few days. So far it has been a very positive experience and is almost certainly the best 3DS RPG I’ve played. Rather than wait dozens of hours until I finish and possibly review it I decided I’d offer some fist impressions of the game. Most of it is good stuff but there are a few things that are starting to irk me.

Beautiful visuals. The little chibi characters are cute and funny but I’m actually more impressed with the backgrounds. The cities you run around in have a very interesting look to them. They have a somewhat hand-drawn look to them like they were pulled straight out of a fantasy/fairytale book and presented in a three-dimensional papercrafty sort of way. Maybe that’s not a great way to describe but it does look very nice.

The BRAVE and DEFAULT combat system is actually pretty interesting. Choosing to default acts somewhat like a guard and prevents some damage done to you while also giving BP. Most regular actions require at least one BP but if you choose to you can BRAVE to gain additional actions for that turn. You can even go into debt and take extra points that your current BP doesn’t cover. You may have to skip a few turns if you go negative but it lets you do several different actions in 1 turn. The battle system gives you a lot of strategic options and there are several fights where you need to make smart use of the system.

Tons of jobs. The game uses classic final fantasy jobs and they are awesome. You acquire new jobs by defeating the holder of the current job asterisk which then lets you adopt that job. Along with exp that increases your regular level you get JP to increase your job level. Higher job levels give you more abilities to use, both active and passive. Another really cool thing you get to do is equip a second set of job abilities. So if you are a thief, for example, you could also equip white mage abilities. Then there are the passive abilities that can be equipped which leads to a whole lot more cross-job awesomeness. Sometimes you might want to get several levels in a job just for ONE specific ability which might help out another job.

A world map and airship! I can’t remember the last time we got both of these things. It’s funny how this isn’t technically a Final Fantasy game and yet it is the best Final Fantasy game in many, many years.

Most of my negatives seem to revolve around the village rebuilding mechanic.

bravely-defaultIn order to build up your village, which is required to unlock a lot of stuff, you need to devote workers and real time to build them. It’s a similar mechanic to a lot of iOS games where it might take 10 real hours to build something. Fortunately you can attach additional workers to make it go faster but this is still the kind of mechanic that I was hoping to never see on portable systems. I absolutely hate this kind of progression.

In order to get more workers for your village you need streetpasses, which I’m liking to rarely ever see in North America unless I attend a convention. You do get 3-5 workers per server day if you connect online but it’s still somewhat frustrating. I’m not a big fan of the streetpass feature at all.

For time to pass you need to have your 3DS on or in sleep mode. It’s not like animal crossing where time passes whether you are powered on or not. Sure, they may be entirely different kinds of games but they both still deal with the passing of real time. I’m not personally a fan of leaving my electronics in sleep mode for long periods of time especially when I sometimes might not play my 3DS for weeks at a time. So if I want to chip away at some of these buildings that take 99 hours to build then I need to have the system at least in sleep mode.

Really most of my complaints are just a small aspect of the game and some just boil down to personal preference. Bravely Default is still an incredibly fantastic game from what I’ve seen so far. If you have a 3DS you should definitely check it out.

  • Yeah, I love everything about the game except for the SP Drink system – get 1 point per 8 hours of sleep mode or buy it from a cash shop for$1 a point or something – and the village rebuilding thing. I guess it’s not so bad if you’re actually in Japan, where you can get a streepass everywhere. But I really, really hate how this kind of system is starting to show outside of phone gaming.

    I’m loving the rest of the game though, it’s a fantastic RPG. I loved 4 Heroes of Light which was the first game done by the devs who did Bravely Default. I’m curious to see how far I can get in the game before I start suffering for not having access to the fully rebuilt town though…

  • Was hoping to pick it up on the way home today but it was sold out. Really want to try this out. It seems like everything that I love about Final Fantasy games of old.

  • I am embarrassed to say I’ve already poured about 24 hours of time into the game since Friday evening, I haven’t binged on a game this hard in years. As you mention, the dungeons and backgrounds are gorgeous. For a treat, go to a city, and then don’t move for like 8 seconds. The camera pulls back to show an overview of the entire place, and they’re beautiful.

    The job system has been a blast. I find myself grinding every once in a while just to unlock more abilities. It’s kinda addicting in that just one more level kind of way. And speaking of grinding, may I just add that if you choose to do so, Bravely Default has the best fast forward through combat UI mechanics ever. You can pump up your encounter rate, set up your round, hit Y to repeat that round over and over again, then set the combat animation speed to 4X. Seriously, it’s like playing on an emulator without having an emulator.

    And oh god, the music. Wonderful. Revo, the composer Squeenix outsourced to, may have outdone Uematsu himself. Play the game with headphones on to get the best quality, you won’t regret it.

    I agree entirely with the criticisms leveled at the town-building portion. It feels entirely tacked on and not engaging whatsoever. Seems like a lazy gating mechanic to me.

  • While I do hope this game sells well to give a strong message to square enix this is the kind of final fantasy combat and story people want. (I still want to force feed FF 12 13 and 13-2 to them)

    I can not help, but to feel this whole build your village up by waiting in real time or sleep mode for ludicrous amounts of time is total bullshit. (not experienced it myself, but judging it from your blogpost)
    its almost like some kind of sick game they are playing with us and the gamers are the test monkeys.
    It feels like a setup plan to incorporate the wait to play f2p style into retail games.

    My guess is that in bravely default 2 they will increase the time to complete your village even more and add DLC to buy workers.

    Or am I seeing ghosts?

    I am still on the fence If i want to buy this game or not… hmmmm

  • @TheRedComet I’d be a lot more upset if streetpass was the only way to get villagers. The fact that it seems to be the main way still irks me but at least you can get 3-5 each day by just updating online.

  • My copy just showed up last night, I’m looking forward to playing it over the upcoming 3 day weekend!

    Apparently there is a way to get extra villagers by using the Demo version. If I remember the article correctly it gives you 20 villagers without using the streetpass. So I’ll be completing the Demo before I boot up the official version.

  • @Einhander It only gives you two unless you do some kind of glitch. I don’t know the full details on it. Honestly I’d just start playing the regular game. Your character progress doesn’t transfer and none of the transfer bonuses are really all that worth it.

  • I just discovered the timers won’t go down if you take the game out of the system, even if system itself is asleep. This means that since I share a copy with my wife I won’t be able to build the village when she’s playing. This is completely frustrating.

  • @TheRedComet If you can then you might consider just buying an additional copy. Not only could you get street pass villagers from each other but you could quite regularly send friend data and abilink with each other if you want.

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