I am currently on my second play through of Bravely Default, though the first was incomplete, because I made it all the way to the game’s final boss on my first go-around, and, upset at the insane level of difficulty, put the game down for a few months. I recently started back up again with a brand new save file. Things were fun and exciting again, the adventure was a joy to relive, and then we got to Chapter 5.
You see, in Bravely Default, the first four chapters of the game actually involve a plot, and there is a progression toward an ultimate goal: awakening the crystals. Then, in Chapter 5, Square Enix gets tired of generating any semblance of a plot and throws it out the window to catapult you into a parallel version of Luxendarc where the crystals haven’t been awakened and you conveniently JUST MISSED your counterparts, and it’s time to go and awaken them again. Oh, and all of the games job-holding bosses (I believe eighteen of them) are back! And you get to go and fight them all again. Now, you can choose not to of course, as they’re mostly optional, but what’s not optional is awakening the crystals again, and fighting the bosses that guard each crystal. So, it’s time to awaken four more crystals. And then yay, we’re done! But wait, what’s this? You’re thrown into ANOTHER parallel version of Luxendarc, and the best thing the party can do is say “Daw well shucks, guess we gotta go awaken them there crystals again!”
So you do it again. You go and you fight all four crystal guardians, you awaken all four crystals, and if you’d like to generate enough experience and job points to be strong enough to do that, you have to go and fight all the optional bosses… again. Now, you have awakened a total of TWELVE crystals, and by this point in the story it has become extremely clear that your annoying little fairy friend is a villain who killed you all in Ringabel’s version of Luxendarc, but even though Ringabel, Tiz and Agnes are all FULLY AWARE of this, they decide hey, let’s awaken those crystals again so Airy can send us to another parallel world and we’ll just see what happens.
So, we’re twelve crystals and three Luxendarc’s in. But we’re not even near finished, no, because you are taken to a fourth version of Luxendarc with, you guessed it, four more crystals to awaken. All the same bosses ressurected. No experience anymore from the side-bosses so little point in fighting them. And now you get to travel to all four crystals, fight their respective bosses, and awaken them again. At this point, the game has become so tedious that the characters don’t even bother saying anything new, they literally just keep repeating the dialogue from previous chapters. When you wake up in the Caldisla inn at the beginning of the chapter, the party has the exact same conversation as the last time, word-for-word, except that the phrase “we’ve been to three worlds,” is now “we’ve been to four worlds.” There are slight differences in conversations and useless side-plots where the job-holding bosses are thrown against you in random groups that give you no experience for winning, but it’s the exact same world.
So what do you do now? This game was so much FUN in the beginning! Well, it’ll all be over soon. Go to each crystal. Fight each boss. Press X a lot of times. Awaken all four crystals. Watch the exact same scene of Agnes having an orgasm after awakening the crystal and Tiz asking her if she needs a rest. And now, it’s GOT to be over…. right? I mean, we’ve awakened SIXTEEN goddamn crystals at this point, clearly if this plan to awaken the crystals isn’t working, IT MIGHT BE TIME TO THINK OF SOME OTHER OPTIONS. Also, the entire party is COMPLETELY aware that Airy is evil and is making them awaken the crystals for some sinister purpose, but they still do nothing.
Well, you head back into the holy pillar of light or whatever, Airy works some magic, the screen goes blank, and…
We’re in another parallel version of Luxendarc. With another four crystals to awaken. And the party has the exact same conversation (and I mean this literally, it is actually the same voice clips playing with no new lines whatsoever), Airy does a non-convincing fake sigh and says “I guess we’ll just have to try again!” and the party all nods in agreement. Seriously. Does no one think, “Hey, why don’t we confront Airy, since we know she’s dangerous and evil?” or “Why don’t we just stop awakening the crystals?” The Sage of Yulyana, who is something a mentor to the party, flat out TELLS them to break one of the crystals so that Airy’s plan will be stopped, and informs Agnes that the pendant she wears is a crystal core that can become a new crystal. So what do we do now?
Yes that’s right, we go and fight all those bosses again. Job-holders? Still there. Still waiting to be fought. For nothing. You will receive no reward for beating them, other than job points, which are now useless because you’ve already mastered the jobs you’re planning to use until the end of the game. Oh, and by this point I’m on level fucking 80. I’ve never been that highly leveled in ANY OTHER RPG, and apparently I’m at the bare-minimum of what’s expected, because even playing it on easy mode with a good strategy, I still get killed every now and then. Alright fine. I will go awaken these goddamn crystals, and wonder what I ever did wrong in my life to deserve being punished like this. So it’s time to fight all four bosses and awaken these crystals, Press Agnes’ G-spot (the X button) until her explosive loud orgasm noises fill the chambers of the crystals with sounds that make everyone else in the room what the hell it is you’re watching on that little handheld device of yours, and now TWENTY crystals have been awakened, in a total of five Luxendarcs. Let’s go to the holy pillar and hey, MAYBE IT’LL WORK THIS TIME, because that’s the best solution our brave and mighty Warriors of Light can come up with. I would like to point out that the definition of insanity is repeating the same action and expecting a different result each time. These fuckers are really messed up in the head by this point, because they can’t even be bothered to come up with new things to say, they just keep playing their same voice clips and the padding continues.
At last. At long, long last, we are DONE awakening the crystals. We arrive in a version of Luxendarc that seems strangely okay. The crystals are all awakened, things look fine. And now Airy reveals to us that she is actually a giant caterpillar monster who has waited, and I quote, “Eleven hundred million years,” (pretty sure that’s not how you pronounce one billion, one hundred million) to string together the Luxendarc’s so that she can awaken her lord and savior, the dark and evil Orobourus.
Now hold up.
We have never heard about this guy the whole game. We know nothing about him. The villain this whole time has been Airy, though even when the party is told this outright, they’re too stupid to DO something about it and oh, I don’t know, STOP helping her, but now we’re expected to believe that this Orobourus guy is really the mastermind? And wait, she just said that she’s awakened the crystals in tens of thousands of Luxendarcs (I feel your pain there, girl), but it took her over a billion years to do it? WHY? Did she fail a bunch of times? Did the Agnes’ and Tiz’s of the past worlds just sometimes feel like taking really long breaks, or leaving their great-great-grandchildren to finish awakening the crystals? Did Airy just ignore some of the Luxendarcs altogether? The leap between ten thousand and one billion is pretty HUGE. Why did it take her so long? And futhermore, how does breaking down the walls between the world strengthen Orobourus? Is she sending the energy of all the different crystals through the barriers, or is Orobourus alive and well in the other worlds she’s conquered? How about some EXPLANATION after all the shit I’ve been put through to get here. Well, none for you, dear player, it’s time to fight Airy.
Though I am on level 80, she is surprisingly difficult. But after defeating her first form, she transforms and we fight a second form. This is the point at which I am now stuck, though I still know what happens after this from the LAST goddamn time I played this game. Airy flits away to the final dungeon, and when you go to fight her, she is so insanely overpowered that she can pretty much waste your party at any given time with one attack, even with all the best jobs mastered, the best equipment, and being at nearly the level cap. Still, in order to beat this game, you have to finish Airy’s two forms on the deck of your airship, go through the final dungeon, fight her there, where you will have to deplete all 100,000 of her HP, then she will fully restore herself and you have to do it again, and then she will fully restore herself AGAIN and you will have to destroy her a third time, all within one battle with no break to heal or anything. Then, when it is over, I am told you get to fight Orobourus, who is fought in three different forms.
Exactly how much effort does Bravely Default expect me to put in here? I’m all for grinding and coming up with new strategies and all that, but do you really have to be on the max level of 99 just to have a CHANCE to defeat the final boss? ON EASY MODE? For gods sake, Square Enix, haven’t I been punished ENOUGH by awakening twenty goddamn crystals, listening to Agnes screaming in ecstasy while I shift uncomfortably on my gay ass and turn the volume down so my mom doesn’t think I’m playing porn, and fighting ALL OF THE GAMES BOSSES SIX TIMES EACH? What more do you want from me? All semblance of storyline was thrown out the window about 40 hours of gameplay ago! What the hell am I supposed to do?
At this point, I don’t even want to finish the game. Before, when I couldn’t beat it, I just said I’ll put it away and come back later, but now I can’t stand to look at the thing. It’s just sitting there, mocking me with it’s unbelievable difficulty spike and it’s ludicrous expectations. I have never been so fucking BORED just trying to make it to the end of an RPG, and it’s really mind-boggling that all this can happen because Bravely Default starts out as an AMAZING game! The crisp battle system, the abundance of jobs, the pretty decent voice acting, the beautiful art style, it’s all been working, so why throw it all away in Chapter 5 just to pad out the rest of the game? What purpose does this serve? It is genuinely INFURIATING to put this much time, effort, and frankly, enjoyment into a game, only to have it spit in your face again, and again, and again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again, again.
See how many “agains” I just typed? That’s how many crystals I awakened from Chapter 5 onward, that’s how many “Gigas Lich” or “Rusalka” bosses I fought. That’s how many times I tromped through the hedge-maze dungeons to get back to the crystals and do it all over again, and again, and again… you get the idea.
How is this game getting such rave reviews and NO ONE is complaining about what I have observed to be the MOST PADDING of any RPG in the history of the genre? Good lord, people complained to no end about how Final Fantasy XIII was practically on rails the whole game, but Bravely Default is being heralded as the masterwork of all JRPG’s when it literally gives up 40% through the game and just makes you replay the same story not once, not twice, but FIVE more times?
I may just never pick this game up again, I don’t know if I have enough of a masochistic streak to get all leathered up, put on the ball gag, wrap a vice around my nuts and let Airy whip me into submission while Edea’s “mrgrgr”s around me in circles, Agnes screams “Unacceptable!” in an orgasmic tremolo, Ringabel sniggers obnoxiously in a pretentious fake accent that his character Alternis Dim doesn’t HAVE in any of the other ten thousand worlds, and Tiz marches around stupidly drooling over Agnes. I just don’t know if can do it.