Bravely Default: Gettin’ Real Sick Of Your Shit

I know, Lemognès, I know.

I know, Lemognès, I know.

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.

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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?

BS

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.

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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?

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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.Rrrringabel

Bravely Default: Plump And Jiggly

Florem

Bravely Default: Day Three

As I progress through this game, something that is becoming abundantly clear is that Bravely Default is a good bit more adult than other installments in the Final Fantasy series, be this a “spiritual” Final Fantasy game or not. There’s usually a light aspect of sexuality that will on rare occasions show up in the Final Fantasy series, such as the “dirty magazine” references in Final Fantasy VIII or Tifa making comments about the other characters staring at her chest in Dissidia 012, but there isn’t normally any outright sexual references. In this game though, Ringabel has mentioned looking up girls skirts, commented on the shapeliness of female characters, and even asked a perverted old hermit for a detailed description in writing of a woman’s measurements and body shape. I’m definitely not complaining, but it’s certainly interesting to see this aspect of characters finally being touched on, and it’s perhaps for this reason that the Western release of the game, Square Enix decided to change the ages of the main characters by making them all a few years older (Edea for instance, is really fifteen) than they really are in the Japanese release. But really, you know they’re all teenagers.

So, as our quest continues, Agnes and her party travel to the Temple of Wind, and find it completely destroyed, with blood splattered on the floors and tatterred habits lying among the ruins, with not a living soul to be found. The wind crystal itself is shrouded in darkness, but even though Agnes has the ability to purify the crystal, she can’t do it without her ceremonial garb, which channels her energy. The party travels to a dense forest where the Yulyana Sage, a perverted old man living alone in the forest, crafts her new vestments. There’s a lot of funny chitchat and the old man not only refers to Agnes as “plump and jiggly,” but also talks about how “taut and lovely” her teacher had been on her visit to acquire the ceremonial vestments, and even offers to share his bed with the two women in the party. Naturally, he and Ringabel become fast, perverted friends. Agnes begins to question herself, noticing that the spirituality of crystalism has declined, and the faith the people have in the vestals is waning, but the kind Sage gives her words of encouragement, and tells her to be a light for the people of the world.

The party returns to the temple of wind, and after defeating a legendary beast that appears from within the crystal, Agnes uses her spiritual power to dispel the darkness, purify the crystal, and restore it’s energies, releasing the prayers of thousands of years worth of vestals in doing so, and restoring the winds to the world. When she returns to Ancheim, the clockwork city in the desert, the king is still attempting to take advantage of his people to make more money, but the return of the winds, coupled with a heartfelt speech from Agnes, turns the people to her side, and the city offers her their love and support as she sets out to see that the other people of the world are saved from losing the power of the crystals as well. Meanwhile the king slinks off to sulk, and at night, the party enters the clock tower and finds their way through a back entrance into the king’s chambers, where he and the Spell Fencer who battled the party twice for pay are discussing ways to turn the people against the vestal and further take advantage of them. Agnes and her party confront the two and kill them both, acquiring the Time Mage and Spell Fencer asterisks, and the king’s adviser becomes the de facto ruler, opting for a new democratic system to take the place of the monarchy, and Agnes leaves the city to search for the water vestal, her closest friend, Olivia.

This is where things start to get a little weird. When the party returns to the airship, Ringabel suddenly feels sick and excuses himself to the inner chambers of the ship, and just at the moment he leaves, a Dark Knight serving Edea’s father in Eternia shows up and demands that Edea apprehend the vestal. His name is Alternis Dim, and if it weren’t obvious that he has the exact same voice as Ringabel already, it’s made even more so by the fact that Ringabel had just been talking seconds before Dim shows up. Also, his name is Dim, which begins with a D, the same as Ringabel’s mysterious future-telling D’s Journal, and his first name is Alternis, meaning “another.” Final Fantasy has a tendency to do this thing with their plot where they establish a world, reveal a bit of it’s backstory (like the crystals sustaining all life and the vestals protecting them), give you a likeable hero (Tiz, for example), send you on a few quests (saving two cities and purifying the first crystal, for instance), and then all the sudden start flipping things on their head. Usually it starts with one thing that kind of makes you go “Wait, what?” and then it turns into an avalanche of plot twists that completely turn the world upside-down. This mysterious Dark Knight who sounds like Ringabel is the first of those weird moments, and I can only assume it’s going to get crazier from here. Frankly, I’m excited.

At any rate, Alternis Dim destroys the skystone that allows the airship to fly, and jumps off the side of the ship. MOMENTS after, Ringabel walks back on deck and says he feels a lot better having been down on the ground. And everyone collectively ellipses.

Chapter Two!

The party travels through a forest covered with a poisonous miasma to the city of Florem, land of radiant flowers, which just happens to be inherited entirely by women. Ringabel, of course, is beside himself. The city’s ruler, the Matriarch, explains to Agnes that the city of Florem, once a land of chaste women wholly devoted to cultivating the earth and celebrating it’s natural life, has become a neon-lined pleasure city, with shallow people fighting over who is the most beautiful, and caring nothing for what lies within. Since Olivia is nowhere to be found, Agnes agrees to enter into a beauty contest to try and get Olivia’s attention and hopefully find her. Meanwhile, a shopkeeper asks the party if they would go and find two little girls who she sent off into the wilderness to find coveted rare accessories called spirit hairpins. When she told the girls where to find them, she had meant to scare them away, but they’d actually traveled off into the wilderness on their own anyway, and Agnes and the party set out to find them.

When they do find them, the girls are scared and lost in the forest, but refuse to give up looking for the spirit hairpins, and so when the party finally chases them down again, the girls are about to receive a spirit hairpin from the fairies in the forest, but an extremely over-sexualized and batshit crazy Summoner shows up and kills the fairies. Edea recognizes her, and the summoner starts laughing at Edea for having some moral fiber and going on about how the world is filled with death and it’s so beautiful and she loves watching people kill each other and other such blather, while squealing in ecstasy while she laughs like she has an orgasm every time she breathes. Thankfully, the party fights and defeats her, but before she dies, she makes a comment about having seen something far more beautiful before dying, Tiz, and she says that he has two souls inside of him. She also points to the girls, who are now fighting over the only spirit hairpin, and says that the hairpins actually secrete a chemical that makes people become gluttonous, violent and self-absorbed, and that the girls’ fight will end in blood. When the party turns again to see the two girls, they have, quite surprisingly, ACTUALLY KILLED EACH OTHER.

Yep, two little girls KILLED each other over a hairpin, in a Square Enix game. Shit is getting real.

After that, I did another sidequest to acquire the Ranger asterisk from a hunter named Artermia (get it? Artemis, goddess of the hunt?), which is similar to the Beserker job of previous Final Fantasies, and headed back to the sage of Yulyana to find some great clothes for Agnes to wear in the beauty pageant, leading to a hilarious scene in which Ringabel suggests that she wear something “hotter,” and she tries on a dress so revealing that she screams in horror and fears she’ll catch a cold, and asks if the Sage if certain that it’s even clothing. Ringabel, desperate to get her to wear it, keeps making desperate attempts to appeal to her, citing her renewed resolve as vestal to overcome any obstacle, and even outright lying and saying that his journal states, “Agnes wore sexy clothes and it was awesome.” The sexy clothes in question are actually the very same clothes that were censored in the US version of the game, the Bravo Bikini.

I also finally figured out, after days, how to reorganize my party. I know that seems silly but there’s not a “formation” option on the main menu, and the sort option, along with the game configuration, is under an option called Tactics, which I mostly avoided because I didn’t think it would have anything useful in it. But useful things it did have, such as the status screen and an option in the configuration that actually allows to change the frequency of random encounters. COMPLETELY. So that means you can actually turn OFF random encounters, which is a first for the Final Fantasy series. Diablos has the Enc-None ability in Final Fantasy VIII, and there was an Enemy Away materia in Final Fantasy VII, but those weren’t things that were offered to you from the very beginning, and they were also abilities or items that had to be equipped. In this game you can turn random battles completely off, lower their frequency, or raise and even double their frequency. This makes exploring dungeons a million times easier, and when you’re ready to get back to grinding, you can just turn random encounters back on and crank up the percentage.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy the game some more!

Florem Garden

Bravely Default: First Impressions

Agnes

 

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.