Bravely Default: Day One
Holy mozzarella! My boyfriend came home from work on his break and surprised me with OH MY GOD IT’S BRAVELY DEFAULT I’M SO GLAD I MARRIED YOU. But seriously, what a wonderful surprise. I’ve been debating about whether to get this game or Lightning Returns this month, but yesterday we found out our finances really wouldn’t allow for either, so I quietly sighed and went back to playing Dissidia 012 (which I still love, by the way). But one thing led to another and he surprises me with this! And what a great surprise it is. I’ve played a bit of the demo of this game and I’ve seen the fantastic artwork (done by artist Akihiko Yushida, known for his work in Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII, and Final Fantasy III for the Nintendo DS, and also incidentally one of my favorite artists) and heard the rave reviews, but even still, classic Final Fantasy format tends to sometimes throw me for a loop. For instance, I’ve played Final Fantasy III for DS and while I didn’t hate it I also wasn’t in love with it. I grew up playing the 3D Final Fantasy titles, and the older games have taken some getting used to for me, but I’ve always really loved the job system since I discovered it in Final Fantasy Tactics. As Bravely Default is more or less it’s own Final Fantasy series, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed the demo, and surprised again when I started the game today to find I really, really enjoy it.
There are four main characters: Agnes, a kind of priestess who protects the worlds four crystals; Tiz, a shepherd who loses his village and his family to a giant chasm that opens up beneath it; Ringabel, an overly romantic traveler suffering from amnesia but carrying a mysterious journal that tells the future; and Edea, a kind of samurai who seems to be on a mission to find Agnes. I haven’t gotten too far yet, Ringabel just joined my party (side note: I consider myself to be an intelligent person, but oftentimes it’s really obvious things that get by me. Puns are one of them. After knowing his name for month, it only just occurred to me today that his name is Ringabel because he lost his memory, and he’s looking for something that might “ring a bell.” I know, it’s delicious, don’t be ashamed to love it), but I am having tons of fun with it.
In comparison to the Final Fantasy titles, this game seems to do a few things a little differently and a lot better. For one thing, you get new jobs after you defeat an enemy who has the “asterisk” needed to obtain that job, rather than being blessed by the four crystals and gaining four jobs at a time like in previous titles. Also, it seems like you can still equip any weapon to any character after assigning them a job, but keeping their weapons and armor within the recommended equipment for their class serves you best. Then you have the new combat system from which the game derives it name, brave and default. As with any Square Enix title, it actually feels a little confusing the first time the game explains it to you, but it’s extremely easy to pick up on. Basically, you can “default” (similar to defending), which will protect you from receiving full damage while sacrificing your turn, to store up an extra turn. You can do this a certain number of times and then use “brave,” which will allow you to attack three or four times in a row, depending on how many times you defaulted and stored up DP (default points). Even more interesting though, is that you can kind of overdraft your DP like a bank account, and go ahead and use DP that you don’t have, and just pay for it afterward by waiting that many extra turns that you used. This makes random battles with easy monsters go a lot faster, because you can take them all down in one turn, since DP is reset after battle, and if you have a party of four, you can essentially attack sixteen times in one turn if everyone uses “brave” three times. You can also speed up and pause battles, making grinding, and any battle really, go a lot faster.
You can also use an ability called “bravely second,” where you press the start button in the middle of an attack by an enemy or ally to freeze time and use one attack of your choice. This is rarer though, because it uses SP, which you can only get by keeping your game in sleep mode for a certain number of hours or buying it on the online store with real money. Yeah, I’m not crazy about the using real money to make the game easier thing either, I don’t believe you should have to pay for a game once you’ve already bought it (looking at you, Final Fantasy XI), but at least giving yourself extra SP doesn’t give you the ability to cheat in the game, you can just use that SP for one extra move at a time, ultimately not giving you an extreme edge over other players or anything.
One of the first things I noticed about the game is the voice acting, which is fantastic, and I’m pretty sure I’ve already spotted some of my favorite actors from various anime and Final Fantasy titles, my favorite so far being a white mage who sounds like she’s voiced by the same woman who did Fang’s voice in the Final Fantasy XIII sub-series. I’ve also spotted characters who sound an awful lot like Lightning from the aforementioned Final Fantasy XIII, Riku and Xemnas from Kingdom Hearts, and Tiz definitely sounds like someone from an anime, I’m thinking one of the Elric brothers from Fullmetal Alchemist, but I haven’t figured it out yet. And yes I could just look all of this up on the internet right now, but I’m too lazy to stop writing this post and go looking, it’s more fun for me to speculate.
In summary, so far I’m loving this game. I hope it keeps getting better.