Review: Bravely Default II (Switch)

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Well, I knew it would take a while to finish Bravely Default II. This game is quite a long turn-based JRPG. This game is actually the third Bravely Default game (with the second being Bravely Second: End Layer), however, I hadn’t played either of the first two games, so I will be looking at Bravely Default II as a standalone game, with limited knowledge on how the other two games function.

The main twist to the JRPG formula that the Bravely Default games give the player is the “Brave/Default” system. Characters can spend a brave point (or BP for short) to get an additional turn when their turn comes around, or they can defend to reduce damage and gain a brave point. A player can use enough brave points to reduce a character’s brave points to a negative value. If that happens, then that character will skip his or her next turn in order to regain a brave point. This system can slow down the pace of battle, especially during long fights, as players will stockpile BP, and then unload them to deal a lot of damage in such a way that they don’t gain negative BP. Enemies can do this too, so that can also slow the pace of battle.

It should be noted that Bravely Default II, unlike its predecessors, has the player control their character on that character’s turn, as opposed to deciding on the actions for the whole party at the beginning of a turn. While I haven’t played the previous games in this series, I’m under the impression that the older system encouraged unloading BP into the negative values in order to wipe out easy foes in shorter fights. I found that in this game I was cautious about using enough BP to go into the negatives even in easy fights, with my not really knowing if it would be enough to wipe out the opposing party.

BravelyDefaultBattle

Perhaps one thing I’ll mention that Bravely Default II does well is its HUD and quality-of-life features. The HUD shows many of the things you need to know about the state of battle, or at least shows what button you need to press to find the rest of the information. The other quality-of-life features help make the game more comfortable to progress through. You have three difficulty modes to play through, and can change them at any time. The game also shows which enemies might be too tough for you by making these foes glow red before you fight them. Conversely, enemies that run away as you approach are easy wins, so you probably don’t need to level up to progress, and could probably handle the next boss fight.

Another neat feature is the “exploration” feature. With this feature, you can have your character explore the high seas while the game is in sleep mode (it should be noted that the game needs to be opened while the system is in sleep mode) and after the exploration is done, you can get a variety of items that boost stats, job points, or even experience points so that you don’t need to fight a ton of enemies when you are playing. Essentially, this mode removes some of the level grinding when you aren’t playing. This is important, as the game can be quite long, and anything that shortens the play time a bit, especially for those with busy lives, is appreciated.

A classic JRPG feature that returns in Bravely Default II is the job system. Jobs are what most RPGs call classes, and they happen to be the varying roles each character can play in battle. These could include the white mage job, which focuses on healing, the black mage job, which focuses on offensive magic, or the vanguard job, which has good defense and weapon-based offense, for example. In Bravely Default II, characters can combine abilities from multiple jobs. In this game, characters can use the actions learned from their primary job and what they have from their secondary job. In addition, they can assign up to five passive abilities that were earned from any job. Players do have to learn new actions from gaining job points (or JP) in their primary job, so there’s a lot of planning involved with setting up optimal strategies for later in the game.

BravelyDefaultStats

I found that this level of customization is one of the main reasons I play RPGs. Bravely Default II has 24 jobs to choose from, so it can be a little overwhelming to figure out how you want to improve your party of adventurers. Thankfully, the game has a menu that describes each perk of each job, as well as what order you earn these actions or abilities, so with a bit of studying, you can decide how to make each character grow stronger.

You incidentally get each job from a boss fight. What is interesting about this is that each boss uses the abilities from the job you are about to earn. As a result, you might not know what you are in for until you start the fight. On the other hand, you will have some idea of what you are being rewarded with once the fight is over. Each boss fight is lengthy, with the time required to defeat these tough foes varying from 30 minutes to 2 hours long! To top it off, some bosses require specific strategies in order to win, so if you aren’t strong enough, or didn’t get a certain combination of abilities, you could have a really rough time, and may need to level up until you get certain abilities.

Yet another feature of this game is that some enemies can counter attack certain actions. Unlike certain RPGs that do this, there are some foes that counter even non-offensive actions, such as defending, boosting your own stats, or even healing yourself. These counter attacks don’t always activate, and the reaction it triggers can be non-offensive too (such as the foe gaining a brave point), so this feature makes new fights, and especially boss fights much riskier the first time around. I found that I had to be quite cautious when I didn’t know what actions a new enemy might counter attack.

Also interesting is the equipment weight feature. If your character wears too much heavy equipment, they will suffer a stat penalty. Changing jobs can alter their carrying capacity, and leveling up improves this capacity across the board. I found that this system was complex enough that I pressed the recommended equipment button whenever I needed to make changes, so I rarely had to think about how to micromanage this portion of character customization. I kind of wish it were more approachable, but it would take a while to figure out what combination gives the right blend of offense and defense even in the best variation of this system. 

BravelyDefaultTalk

One aspect of Bravely Default II that I hadn’t mentioned yet was the story. The story of Bravely Default II is very similar to classic Final Fantasy. Four heroes have to find 4 elemental crystals to save the world from an evil force. The four characters, Seth, Gloria, Elvis (no, not the king of rock and roll), and Adelle do have more semblance of personality than the simplest of classic JRPGs, as do many of the characters and enemies along the way, but the overall plot is mostly bare bones. The character Elvis was particularly amusing, as he doesn’t sweat the details, and is always thinking of drinking. Other than the story connecting to most of these characters (with the main character Seth having the least to do with the story, oddly enough), each chapter is an isolated narrative, with its own plot twists and problems that do enough to catch your attention, but at the same time may not go above and beyond in the story department, at least not for RPG veterans.

Overall, Bravely Default II is a good RPG for connoisseurs of RPG battle mechanics. The quality-of-life features make it easy for anyone to navigate the game’s complex information. The job system is the sort of customization and strategizing that RPG fanatics crave, while the retro style storytelling is for those who want the story to get out of the way of gameplay, but still be pleasant enough in the process. The brave/default system is a little slow, but adds some unique strategizing to the game. The slight shortcomings in this game can be better or worse for some players, including enemies that are able to counter attack any action, the lengthy boss fights, and overall length of the game (the game is roughly 70-80 hours long). Overall, this is a game for RPG fans, but may be tough for other players.

 Recommendations:

  • Once you get the exploration feature, check back once or twice a day for goodies that speed up character advancement.
  • Use the JP orbs to gain abilities in classes that are hard to use, but have handy effects.
  • When you get new jobs, check out the abilities you can earn, and plan accordingly.
  • If there are red glowing enemies, you will want to level up till they are easy to defeat. At higher difficulty settings, you may want to level up until they start running away before progressing.
  • Be cautious when fighting the mid to late game bosses, so you can observe attack patterns, and find out what they can counter attack.
  • Perform some side quests, if you like.
  • If the first ending wasn’t satisfying enough, you may want to go for the other endings. Careful, some players may find the game drags on a little too much after this point.
  • There are some secret trials to find as well, if it catches your interest.
  • After the true ending, you can try new game+ to keep your goods and abilities, if you like. You may want to increase the difficulty, if you like.
  • You may also want to replay a fresh save file at a higher difficulty instead, if curious.
  • If you need a break before attempting the above two recommendations, then you may want to wait till you are ready to revisit this game.

Pros:

  • Charming visuals.
  • Strong soundtrack.
  • Complex but strategic job system.
  • Good quality of life features.

Cons:

  • The brave/default system can slow down battle. (Possible con)
  • Enemies can counter attack most types of actions. (Possible con, based on frustration tolerance)
  • Lengthy boss fights. (Possible con based on free time available) 
  • Story is quite simple. (Possible con, based on taste)
  • Lengthy game. (Possible con, based on attention span and free time available)

Verdict:

8.6/10 A great, classic style RPG

Most issues with Bravely Default II are more potential problems that not every player will agree upon. Most other features are what players want in a modern JRPG though. If you don’t mind the length or some of the game’s issues, you will get your money’s worth. The game could be a 7.2-8.7, based on these factors. Those who detest RPGs probably won’t like this game.


That wraps up my Bravely Default II review. What about you at home? Did you like or dislike this game and why? What is your favorite job in this game? Favorite ability combination? What did you make of the story or characters? Let me know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review, then click that like button and share on social media. To keep up with That’s All Games, you can subscribe via email or WordPress. Until next time, have fun gaming!

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