By Steve Baltimore / May 1st, 2021
|Title||Bravely Default II|
|Release Date||February 26th, 2021|
When Bravely Default released for the Nintendo 3DS back in 2014 it quickly became one of my favorite games on the platform. I loved the fantastic combat system and the amount depth in the story. Bravely Second came along a couple years later, and was a pretty big let down. The game suffered from a lot of pacing issues, the soundtrack was not as good and many other things were just not up to par with its predecessor. Now Square has decided to give the franchise another shot with an all new story and cast of characters in Bravely Default II. Does this outing have the magic that made the original release one of my favorite titles on the 3DS? Let’s find out!
The story here begins as young seafarer named Seth washes ashore on a strange continent. He will soon run into a refugee princess named Gloria, whose kingdom has been destroyed. The four crystals being held in her kingdom have been stolen, and she has tasked herself with returning them. The pair will soon meet up with a couple of other adventurers, a traveling scholar named Elvis and mercenary named Adelle. Elvis is looking to find all of the Asterisks in the world in order to read a book left to him by his master, and his partner Adelle is searching for her sister. They form a group based on common interest and set out on their quest, but they have no idea the very fate of the world will soon be in their hands!
While I don’t think the story here is quite as strong as the original, it is well done. The story is a bit straight-forward, but there are enough plot twists and the amazing personalities of the characters make up for any shortcomings. I had a great time exploring this world, learning the lore of this land, and watching the cast grow along the way. This is exactly what makes good RPGs. I was pretty worried about how this would turn out given story was my biggest complaint with the last outing, but the team has done a 180 here and it turned out wonderfully.
Graphically, Bravely Default II knocks it out of the park. I was a bit worried the art style here would turn me off since it is different from what was in the 3DS games, but that turned out not to be the case at all. I loved all the character art in their various jobs, towns look hand painted, and the enemy designs were all great as well. The only minor complaint I have here is that the game has some shuddering issues when first loading in the overworld. This is not game breaking, but it is something that shouldn’t be, and Square should try to address this if possible.
The soundtrack here is simply outstanding. This is one of the best soundtracks to ever grace a Switch game cartridge. Just like in the first game, they brought in Japanese artist REVO to help create the music, and he did an amazing job. The battle themes here pump you up for combat, and the somber tunes really drive home some of the more emotional scenes. The last battle theme is probably the best theme in this franchise, and that’s saying something if it can outdo Bravely Default’s OST. The game has both English and Japanese audio. I preferred the Japanese voice cast personally, since I felt like some of the character’s accents didn’t really suit them in the English dub. This will all come down to which one you like best, and I’m glad Nintendo and Square decided to include both.
If you ever played a classic RPG, you pretty much know what you’re in for here. Go to each town and take on some side quest while you attempt to retrieve all of the crystals. The game has plenty of map markers to point you in the right direction, and while this may seem kind of boring some of the side quests are well worth seeing. They also help flesh out the characters, which is always a big plus.
The star of the show is the fantastic turn based combat. Much like other entries in the series, you can choose your Brave command and do up to four actions in a single turn. This will delay the character’s next action by a great deal, but you may be able to wipe out enemies in one go this way. Players can also play more defensively and choose the Default command. This will stock a turn for later use and will do a guard action that cuts damage received from attacks. This is a great system since it gives the player a lot of freedom to control the flow of battle.
The very robust Job System is back and better than ever. As you continue your quest, the party will run into powerful bosses called Asterisk Holders. When you defeat these bosses you will acquire their Asterisk and gain access to a new job. These jobs range from powerful mages to new classes like the Artisan for great buffs and de-buffs. Each party member has five slots to equip passive skills that can be learned from jobs as well. These give you powerful buffs and abilities that will help you overcome even the most powerful foes the game has to offer. Most of these will take up only one slot, but there are a few you will have to give up two slots to use. I haven’t had this much fun mixing and matching up skills and jobs since I first played Final Fantasy Tactics many moons ago.
Bravely Default II is a classic RPG for fans of old school turn-based games. These types of games are a treat these days, as most modern RPGs have gone to a more active-based combat system. Old guys like me love to play games in the style we grew up with but with a modern spin, and this game does just that. Some folks will think this one is grindy, but if you use the bait that allows for multiple battles at once that give big EXP and JP bonuses, you can build up your party really quickly. I put about 75 hours into this one and achieved the true ending with all jobs mastered. This is a wonderful return to form for this franchise and worth every penny of the $59.99 price tag. If you are fan of classic RPGs or love a good story, don’t sleep on this one, snag it up as soon as possible. You’ll be glad you did.
Game was provided by the publisher.
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