Game Info:

Bravely Default
Developed by: Silicon Studio
Published by: Square Enix
Release Date: February 7, 2014
Available on: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: RPG
Number of Players: Single-Player
ESRB Rating: Teen for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
MSRP: $39.00
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Bravely Default is the spiritual successor to Square Enix's Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light.   It takes many of the enhancements of that game and steps them up a notch.  Both the job and battle systems have been revamped and work really well.  The 3D effects are the best I have seen to date on the 3DS.  Many 3DS features are used including Augmented Reality for the intro and the gyroscope to reveal a teaser for the sequel.

Like many Final Fantasy games, there are four characters from different backgrounds uniting to save the world from certain doom.   The first character shown is Agnès Oblige, a vestal of the Chrystal orthodoxy who tries to perform a ritual to cleanse the wind crystal from the darkness consuming it.  All four of the elemental crystals have been corrupted by the same evil power.   She must see to it, that the remaining vestals are capable of doing their part or she must cleanse the crystals in their stead.

Tiz is the next character brought into the mix.  As the crystals were being corrupted, a giant crater opened up and consumed his home town of Norende.  Tiz is the only survivor and is beating himself up for not being able to save his brother from falling into the pit.   With the king's permission, he is granted the ability to rebuild the town.  This rebuilding process is a mini-game in and of itself.  You are given a couple of villagers to start off with and you can assign them various tasks like clearing wreckage or researching new products to sell.  More villagers are acquired for every street pass or internet friend you meet.    The more villagers you have, the less time it takes to get tasks done.

If you don't have nearby friends with the game, you can check daily to receive tags from the internet.  Not only does this send villagers, but you can also receive nemesis' in your town to battle.  You can send nemeses to others along with a special attack move.  The ability to summon these moves is a great help early on in the game.  If you don't have friends or internet, there are AI friends and moves given to you as well.

Bravely Default

Strong Points: Fun battle and job class system; loveable characters; excellent music and 3D graphics
Weak Points: Micro-transaction support; repetitive story; game crashes
Moral Warnings: Fantasy violence and magic use; skimpy outfits and some of the characters are womanizers or perverts

Ringabel is the third character who joins the party, but he lost his memory.  Fortunately, he carries an extremely handy journal that has lots of information and clues on where to go next in the game.  If you're stuck, Airy the Cryst fairy that hangs around Agnès gives you hints as well.  Finally, if you're really stuck, the map on the lower 3DS screen has objective markers too.  

The last party member is Edea who is the rebellious daughter of the grand marshal of the Eternian Forces.  While the Eternian Forces are against Crystalism, Edea doens't find Agnès and her friends to be as bad as she thought they would be.  After the Eternian Force's cowardly attack on Caldisla, Edea begins following her conscience and joins up with the Wind Vestal.  

With the four united, they must begin their journey of cleansing the elemental crystals.  Since the crystals have become corrupted, their associated elements have been impacted as well.  The wind no longer blows and the ocean has become putrid.  Besides being attacked in every village by the Eternian Forces, they must also figure out how to travel to the crystals scattered across the map.   

The battle system similar to that in Final Fantasy: The Four Heroes of Light where each action costs a point to use.  What's new in Bravely Default is that you can spend your turns ahead of time.  This is a great way to exterminate weaker enemies, but not so good for tougher enemies since you would be vulnerable for a couple of turns.   Upon winning a battle you earn experience for your character level, job level, and money.  If you take no damage, defeat all of the enemies at once or in one turn, you get experience and gold bonuses.  

Bravely Default
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 69%
Violence - 7/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 3.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 5.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

Bravely Default's job system is very flexible and fun to experiment with.  The jobs become available as you defeat the bosses that hold each job asterisk.  Once you acquire the asterisk, anybody in your party can become that profession and magic scrolls purchased are shared throughout the party as well.   

There are many jobs including white, black, red and time mages, summoners, ninjas, pirates, sword masters, knights, paladins, thieves, alchemists, vampires and the list goes on.  Each job alters your characters base stats like intelligence, hit points, speed and so forth.  Each job gives you a set of dedicated menu commands and you can add a secondary menu command from another job you have experience with.  Also each job has special abilities that can be applied no matter what your job is.  For example, a monk will offer the ability to increase the character's hit points by 30%; that comes in handy no matter what class you are.  

During the last quarter of the game I abused the over powered combination of having my entire party as ninjas (for speed),  with valkyrie as a secondary (for aerial attacks/avoiding damage), and equipping the time mage's hasten world ability (replenishes brave points).  This combination let me take down many bosses including the final one without any damage.  To make life even easier  I enabled auto battle mode to reuse the previously used commands over and over.  

After putting in over 80 hours into this game I wanted to move on.  Sadly, the second half of the game wasn't as enjoyable as the first since it's very repetitive.  I don't want to give away too much of the story, but Bravely Default combines Final Fantasy with the movie Groundhog Day.  I was also disappointed to experience several system crashes throughout my adventure.  Perhaps I was too powerful?  Despite its flaws, it's still a fun game though.

There are multiple endings and I strongly recommend experiencing the one for completing all eight chapters.  You can do the other one by over-reviving a crystal and the game will give you the option to save and complete the game normally.  Once beaten properly, new game+ is enabled.    

While I have no urge to play though this game again, I did enjoy my time spent in it.  Like all Final Fantasy games there's plenty of fantasy violence and magic use.  The characters in this game are lovable and quirky.  Some of them are promiscuous and even perverted.  The sage that helps the group mentions how Agnès has grown and become more jiggly.  He even gives her a racy bikini to wear.  Later in the game, you can have a character wear it.  I don't recall any language, but Bravely Default definitely earns it's Teen rating.  If you're mature gamer and a fan of the Final Fantasy job based games, you'll definitely want to check out Bravely Default.  I hope the sequel makes it to our shores soon!

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