Bravely Default – First Impressions

No doubt everyone who owns a 3ds has heard about this game at this point. Touted to be a return to square’s claim to fame class system in addition to the classic ‘protect the crystals’ bit from all FF’s prior to 6 and a heavily stylized art style and massive marketing push, it promises much. Riding on the coattails of it’s predecessor Four Heros of light for the DS, the game rarely takes a moment for a breather. Designed by the heralds who have brought us such greats as 3D dot game heroes, Silicon studio strikes in full force, guns blazing style on the 3ds. And judging from my first 10 hours with the game, it delivers in full.

The intro shows us a desperate situation with vague context (par for the course nowadays, honestly) where the only thing I can remember at this time that happens is that primary character Tiz’s hometown Norende is swallowed up by a great abyss. Tiz desperately tries to save the boy that was next to him but his strength gives out and the boy falls to his unknown doom. I thought for the longest time this kid was his brother but he’s never mentioned again. Yup. I take it he wasn’t really that important? Well, whatever!

A random battle!It isn’t long before our hero meets the Agnès, the vestal of the wind crystal. Agnès has lived in solitude for much of her life with several other acolytes in order to properly do her duty and protect the crystal of the wind. Imbalance has struck and now she has to adventure out to right was has been wronged. Agnès has witnessed the wind crystal overtaken by darkness and knows there is much for her to do. Despite telling Tiz to “butt out” several times, he is insistent on doing something about the “wrongs” of nature against the crystal and help her, all the while while rebuilding his hometown Norende.

Now here is a bit of an interesting element: you actually DO rebuild Norende yourself. Through the use of the touchscreen (and several streetpasses, hopefully) you can assign your villagers to uncover and build several weapons/armor/item shops for your own use throughout the game. Norende exists in some temporal spacial realm that doesn’t allow you to visit it but somehow all of the items you earn the privledge to buy get transported to the mysterious red merchant that saves your game for you in the middle of dungeons. Hey whatever right?

Good luck with this bastard. But enough about the story. Uncommon in an RPG, the combat is the draw for many and gains much of its individuality in the addition of two commands: “Default” and “Brave”. Default is an action that has effects we are familiar with; it’s essentially a defend command that allows us to increment our “How many times can I move in a turn” meter to 2. Yes, that means that next turn, you can attack twice if you choose. If you choose to do so, it is considered a “Brave”; you can stack up to four of these to attack four times in a turn. It’s worth noting that you do not need to store up BP by defaulting in order to Brave; you can just Brave in the beginning of a battle right off the bat. Ensure that you terminate your enemy should you choose to do so, as otherwise you will spend four turns getting your ass kicked into next Tuesday.

It’s refreshing to have a relatively uncomplicated battle system that’s familiar and successfully merges a seemingly inoffensive but totally game changing game mechanic.

I’ve only just finished the first chapter and I can say the game is relatively grindy and to be honest, I’ve found the game challenging. Mashing “attack” during any random battle is usually a quick ticket to the title screen. Message boards are filled with people chiding that the game is “too easy” so maybe I just suck, but hey, there’s what I think about that.

Give it a shot. It’s definitely got promise and it’s loads of fun. Good luck finding the collector’s edition now, though!

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