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.
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!