Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Bravely Default (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Feared as another possible case of Square Enix confining its RPGs to its homeland (see Final Fantasy Type-0, Dragon Quest X), the announcement earlier in the year that Nintendo would be publishing Bravely Default for the West was met with universal cheer. As a spiritual successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, which sadly didn't deliver the wishes some may have expected of a throwback to classic Final Fantasy, it was hoped that Silicon Studio (3D Dot Game Heroes) could learn from what was missing and what didn't work in the Nintendo DS game, and really kick-start the beginning of a solid new RPG franchise for Nintendo 3DS.

There is good news for fans of the Final Fantasy of old that have been pining for traditional turn-based combat and a hark back to medieval settings. Bravely Default takes staple popular highlights of classic games in the Final Fantasy series and reintroduces them to a new audience with its own fresh take on ideas. Limitations and missteps brought up with Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, such as low item storage capacity, the inability to select targets in battle, and unclear instructions for the next objective location, are completely eradicated.

Bravely Default is leaps and bounds ahead of its spiritual predecessor, where the battle system and character growth in particular are some of the finest in the Final Fantasy series. Combat, as mentioned, is a strictly turn-based affair, but in order to add some tactical depth to the proceedings, the ability to use BP as a means to act more than once in any given round has been introduced. By using "Brave" on a turn, it will allow the selected character to perform two actions instead of the usual one. Opting to use extra Brave on top of this will allow for even more moves, provided there is enough BP in stock. If there isn't enough BP in the bank, it will enter negative numbers, and result in characters being unable to act until the required number of rounds is up. In order to add more BP to save it from going into the negative, the "Default" option is required, and acts as a "Defend" move, as seen in previous Final Fantasy games. A whole new element to battles is applied through this system, making for a lot of strategic decision-making that should sit right at home with anyone that preferred the turn-based setups of Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III.

The ever-popular Job System makes its return, where it is possible to create very personal and specific parties of varying types. Familiar jobs and brand new ones can be acquired throughout the adventure by defeating the bearers of each one, and can be levelled up through successful battles, unlocking new abilities. The further diversity comes through being able to select a secondary job that allows a character to also use that class' abilities on top of the ones available through their primary job. Want to have a ninja with the option to use the thief's Steal abilities? That's entirely possible. How about allowing a dark knight to use white mage healing magic? No problem. Perhaps a red mage with the choice to use Summon magic is preferable. This is not including the support abilities that can be unlocked and applied from all other jobs for each individual character. The potential for unique combinations is extensive and it means that every player will have his or her own preferences in how to play through the game, as they find the most appealing and helpful mixtures of jobs and characters to suit their needs.

Screenshot for Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

What is a good gameplay system without a good story, though? Again like The 4 Heroes of Light and the original Final Fantasy, Bravely Default's plot centralises on four young main characters who bid to travel the world of Luxendarc and awaken the four crystals to rid the lands of darkness and close the Great Chasm, whilst trying to fend off the Eternian military force which attempts to stop anyone from doing so. In focusing on just a small group of characters, each one ends up with large and important tie-ins to the overarching storyline, meaning none ever feels like it doesn't belong or is just tagging along to make up the numbers (a problem some would argue exists in many RPGs). As an original storyline, Bravely Default holds its own due to always crafting the feeling that there is more than meets the eye. Although it does have that typical crystal mythos that has been prevalent in so many Final Fantasy games, it continually manages to tease and entice players to push forwards. It may not be a grand epic on par with a title like Final Fantasy IX, but Bravely Default still delivers a story full of charm, humour and a few surprises that will satisfy players that have become tired of the offerings in Square Enix's mainline Final Fantasy series over the last generation.

The let-down comes in the form of the English voice acting, which continues to be a situation that is lacking in quality in so many RPG localisations. Some voices are good, some have ups and downs, some may grow on players, but many are just poor. The Japanese voice option is such an important feature; else players may end up growing to dislike certain characters for the wrong reasons.

In its bid to take players to the medieval worlds of RPGs, Bravely Default naturally exudes the auras of the Nintendo DS remakes of Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV. It has the same chibi-like character design that is smoothened out a lot better through the more powerful 3DS system, and the art style may even remind people of Final Fantasy IX in many instances. Despite these notable visualisation reminders to previous games, Bravely Default has a remarkable style of its own. The towns and other specific locations have such a gorgeous hand-drawn, painting-like design, with visuals popping out wonderfully with the stereoscopic 3D effect applied. In stopping to gaze upon such locations, there is the feeling that this is one of the most finely-crafted and graphically-appealing games on the 3DS.

Screenshot for Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The reverse side is that of exploring the dungeon areas. In a very classic Final Fantasy-like top-down viewpoint, the various caves and dungeons usually play out in mazes, with some travelling between floors and flicking switches to open doors necessary in order to progress. These areas are generally rather bland affairs, where all of that beautiful graphic design of the towns is virtually non-existent in these places, and are rather samey and limited in appearance. Very similar to the early Final Fantasy games, the bird's-eye view unfortunately shows off too much black on top of the walls, making the insides of many dungeons rather boring places to be. It is indeed a throwback to the games that started it all, but it really seems like a lot more could have been done with the dungeon designs. Certainly when thinking about a game like Final Fantasy IX, which has what could still be regarded as the most attractive art design and locations in the series, it would seem that Bravely Default really is lacking in its level schemes.

One aspect that most definitely isn't hit or miss is the wealth of options on offer for players of all levels of RPG experience. Whether this is the first game of its type ever being played, or if it is simply next in line after many years of role-playing, Bravely Default can be tailored to suit each individual based on personal preference. The gameplay difficulty can be altered between three levels at any moment, and there are options for how often random encounters occur, including being able to turn them off entirely. Anyone that has a dislike for grinding massively or getting forced into battles when they simply want to experience the story first and foremost will appreciate this choice hugely. Likewise, when a bit of levelling up is on the agenda, bumping up the encounter rate works wonders. Battles themselves can even be sped up so that animations play out much faster; it's almost impossible not to use this constantly.

Then there are the short, straight-to-the-point tutorials that ensure the game isn't essentially many hours of essays before actually being able to run free and play (as other RPGs like to do), and destination markers can be toggled on or off, so that players will never get lost or miss a clue on where to go next (which was a problem with The 4 Heroes of Light). Bravely Default is a welcoming beginner-friendly game, of which its many options will be valued just as much, if not more, by experienced RPG fans.

Screenshot for Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Although Bravely Default is a chunky quest that demands a lot of man-hours to see the story through, its side-quests are done a little differently when compared to other RPGs. These optional quests grant more to the development of the characters and are the method to bolstering the number of jobs that the party can equip. Bravely Default may have a smaller world and less variety in its side-missions when compared to other RPGs, resulting in only so much to do once the main plot is finished, but this angle focuses on requiring players to continue a bit of grinding and constantly increasing the power of their party to take down many non-compulsory foes and bosses.

That isn't all there is to this game, though. RPGs generally are a very solo affair, with communication between other players usually non-existent or very limited. To add a little more incentive to keep playing, Bravely Default gives players the chance to swap data online with their 3DS friends that also play the game to call upon another's character and special move to use in battle. If a friend is further ahead and has more powerful characters, then summoning the one they've sent could be the key to winning in a tricky boss encounter.

Rebuilding a village in a little mini-game of sorts also makes full use of the StreetPass and online capabilities of the 3DS. The more StreetPasses captured, the more new villagers that come over to rebuild the village and its shops, offering up new items and equipment for players to purchase. Some very creative thought has been put in motion with the network options for Bravely Default, really making the game feel like more than just a single-player adventure at times. Hopefully Silicon Studio will continue to make inventive use of such potentials in the future.

The biggest complaint would sadly have to come down to the final few hours of the game. Some odd decisions have been made to force areas to be returned to and bosses be repeatedly fought, which can in fact contribute to making the latter portion of this story becoming somewhat tedious. This doesn't mar what is an overall quality RPG, but it is a strange choice.

Screenshot for Bravely Default on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Bravely Default stands on its own two feet as a great new IP with a refreshingly fun take on the turn-based battle system of the first Final Fantasy games, presenting strategic battles and a plethora of customisation options. Challenge and grinding is there for those that want it, but there are so many other options which allow players of any level of RPG experience to tailor the game to their needs; whether it is to make the game easier and faster to concentrate on the story, or to push people to the extremes on harder difficulties. The fact that there is so much choice makes Bravely Default hugely appreciated in so many ways.

Graphics

Chibi-like characters which hark back to Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV on DS that provide lots of charm, and simply gorgeous town locations that remind greatly of Final Fantasy IX; Bravely Default delivers such a wonderful visual experience on the 3DS. It is only upset when it comes to exploring many of the dungeon areas that are just a little too bland on occasion. On another slightly notable sad note, the frame rate clearly jitters on the over world with the 3D turned on.

Sound

Composed by Revo from Japanese music group Sound Horizon, Bravely Default's soundtrack is divine. From adrenaline-pumping electronic guitar boss themes to the enchanting melodies played throughout the story, it would be no understatement to say the musical score is something of an epic. Recurring themes in dungeons and caves can prove a little unfortunate, and the odd decision to have a different tune play in the menu in place of the current background theme is a real pity. The English voice acting is, not surprisingly, not of a great standard (even if there are some notable exceptions), but having the choice of English and Japanese dubbing is reassuring.

Value

A portable game this may be, but Bravely Default is a meaty adventure that can easily push 40 hours alone to complete the story. There are many optional bosses to take on during and after the game is completed, even if the side-questing variety isn't on the levels of previous Final Fantasy games. Take the game on again in harder difficulties or by trying out different job preferences, and it's easily one of the tastiest offerings in the genre on the Nintendo 3DS.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Bravely Default is classic Final Fantasy in everything but name only. Despite dropping the famous moniker and attempting to become a successful new RPG series in its own right, this is the game that Final Fantasy fans have been missing in their lives for far too long. The added beauty of this very traditional role-playing experience is that it is accessible to all types of players due to the difficulty options and simple tutorials, making for a game that is great for those still new to the genre, but also offers a lot of challenge for the more seasoned gamer that demands it. Bravely Default is a great start for this new Square Enix franchise, and proves that allowing other developers to craft the types of RPGs that have been long-missed by the Final Fantasy company's fans can lead to extremely positive results. This is one game any RPG fan should be setting money aside for, whether they already own a Nintendo 3DS or not.

Read and post comments

 Buy Bravely Default (Nintendo 3DS) Buy Bravely Default (Nintendo 3DS)

Buy Bravely Default on AmazonBuy Bravely Default on Shop To Buy Bravely Default on GameBuy Bravely Default on TescoBuy Bravely Default on The Hut

Share this Review Share this Review

20.12.2013

10

13469

Games you may also like...

Also known as

Bravely Default: For the Sequel

Developer

Silicon Studio

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (8 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Excellent review, Az. Covered every aspect I had questions about. Glad to see this one turn out so well - I had hoped for great things long ago when it was first announced!

Now to wait for the US release.

C3 Moderator
Staff Member

I have yet to start playing this game as some other things got in the way but I'll fix that over the Christmas period. One of my favourite Final Fantasy games is FFIII DS, which I can really only fault for demanding excessive amounts of grinding and having a pretty harsh save system. Given the similarities between it and this game, Bravely Default seems like the Final Fantasy game I've been longing for. I'll definitely share my impressions once I've played it.

A question for you, Az. Is it feasible to completely rebuild that village without getting any StreetPasses?

Cubed3 Reviewer/Feature Writer | Twitter | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

SirLink said:
A question for you, Az. Is it feasible to completely rebuild that village without getting any StreetPasses?

Yup, you can connect online every 24 hours and receive a small group of new villagers to keep it all going. Nothing to worry about. Wish some other StreetPass-only games would help out others that don't live around places with many 3DS users like this game does.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
...Upupu.
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
Staff Member

Azuardo said:
SirLink said:
A question for you, Az. Is it feasible to completely rebuild that village without getting any StreetPasses?

Yup, you can connect online every 24 hours and receive a small group of new villagers to keep it all going. Nothing to worry about. Wish some other StreetPass-only games would help out others that don't live around places with many 3DS users like this game does.
Thanks, that's excellent news. I was really sad that I had to completely miss out on the StreetPass game and its challenges in A Link Between Worlds, so this is very welcome indeed. In Zelda's case, I would have appreciated getting one or two battles to fight each day based on other players who also connected to the Internet. Just enough so some people don't miss out but other players are still motivated to obtain StreetPasses if possible.

Another thing I'm curious about, do you know if missables are a problem for someone wanting to 100% the game?

( Edited 20.12.2013 23:10 by SirLink )

Cubed3 Reviewer/Feature Writer | Twitter | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

SirLink said:
One of my favourite Final Fantasy games is FFIII DS, which I can really only fault for demanding excessive amounts of grinding and having a pretty harsh save system.

Yeah, especially at the final dungeon, took me several years to finally go back and finish the game completely. And what about that system that you had to use mognet and send and receive messages with a friend over the internet to get certain sidequests? That was lame too!

Thankfully it seems that you don't HAVE to get help from other people here, as that is rather optional. At least I hope so Smilie. That being said I quite like the ideas they put in the internet side of things here, so long as they're kept optional to clear the game 100% Smilie.

Cubed3 Limited Staff :: Review and Feature Writer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

SirLink said:
Another thing I'm curious about, do you know if missables are a problem for someone wanting to 100% the game?

As far as I'm aware, I don't think there are missables. Certainly not that I know of, anyway.

Cubed3 Staff :: Senior Editor
...Upupu.
Follow me on: Twitter | YouTube | Backloggery
Staff Member

RudyC3 said:
SirLink said:
One of my favourite Final Fantasy games is FFIII DS, which I can really only fault for demanding excessive amounts of grinding and having a pretty harsh save system.

Yeah, especially at the final dungeon, took me several years to finally go back and finish the game completely. And what about that system that you had to use mognet and send and receive messages with a friend over the internet to get certain sidequests? That was lame too!

Thankfully it seems that you don't HAVE to get help from other people here, as that is rather optional. At least I hope so Smilie. That being said I quite like the ideas they put in the internet side of things here, so long as they're kept optional to clear the game 100% Smilie.

At least with the Mognet sidequest you were able to find other people who also wanted to complete it on forums on the Internet, in the case of StreetPass exclusives you're very much screwed if you live in an area where it's really hard to get any.

Azuardo said:
SirLink said:
Another thing I'm curious about, do you know if missables are a problem for someone wanting to 100% the game?

As far as I'm aware, I don't think there are missables. Certainly not that I know of, anyway.

If there's nothing that comes to your mind then it's very likely that there are none that are important for completion. Thanks again, that's one thing I really want to know about RPGs in advance but looking it up myself is really dangerous because of potential spoilers.

Cubed3 Reviewer/Feature Writer | Twitter | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Can you believe that Myst has been keeping me from trying this?? Smilie Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I am trying to decide to buy this game or not for myself. Your review has helped me make up my mind that it would be a fairly nice addition to my game collection. Smilie

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.  –Robert Frost
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I think it's a case out-doing the current FF formula. 4 Heroes of Light attempted to do the same thing, but needed a bit more care and attention putting in before release. This, though, pretty much nails it from what I've read and the demo I tried.

Don't forget that any progress from the demo can be carried across to the full game! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Comment on this review

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.

Follow this topic Follow this topic

Keep up with new comments with the RSS feed for this topic, or subscribe via email above.
Turqoise Radio - Cubed3's Glass to the Wall
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Latest news and updatesSite Feed
Vote on our latest community pollNintendo Poll
Vote: Pokémon Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire - Which version will you buy?
Pokémon Omega Ruby
Pokémon Alpha Sapphire
Both
Neither
Pokémon?
Member of the weekMember of the Week
This week's top member is Flynnie, awarded the most stars for great posts.
Online Play and ChatOnline Nintendo Play & Chat
General Chatroom: Click here to chat Wii U Nintendo Network Codes - Find other Nintendo Wii U users 3DS Nintendo Network Codes - Find other Nintendo 3DS users
Listen to our Nintendo Jukebox - Classic Mario, Zelda, Metroid songs and more Nintendo news and reviews on the move