So I finally finished Bravely Default! It’s a pretty long game, and you could easily spend 60+ hours on it. The game mechanics (Brave and Default) are pretty fun to use and work really well, the plot is engaging, with unexpected twists and turns, and most of the characters (particularly the enemies) are interesting as well. All in all, I really enjoyed this game and if you like RPGs, I would highly recommend it!

In Bravely Default you follow Tiz, Agnes, Ringabel and Edea as they go on a journey to awaken the 4 crystals, and close the great chasm that appeared right where Tiz’s village is. There are quite a few sidequests to do on the way, including the Norende Village restoration. Despite the fact that I found the motivation for the Norende Village restoration a bit weird (Tiz gets super excited about it, even though there’s a giant hole in the ground, so where are they building? And even if they can rebuild, all his friends and family will still be dead…), it’s kind of fun, and by building new shops and upgrading them you unlock new special skills (which are really important) and new items in the adventurer shop. You shouldn’t have a problem finishing the restoration by the end of the game – the game will download 3-5 friends a day from the internet for you, so you can still enjoy all the features of the game even if none of your actual friends play it.

As the game progresses you’ll unlock new classes (24 in total), which change your stats and give you new abilities. As well as the currently equipped class, you can equip the abilities from a secondary class, and the support abilities you’ve learnt from any other class. There are lots of combinations to try, and as you get further in the game you’ll find that you can level up the first ~ 7 levels pretty quickly, which means you can try out any new jobs you get and get a feel for them fairly easily. There’s no penalty for switching jobs, and as the game gets harder you’ll find yourself trying out new combinations for the tougher boss battles.

The fighting system is pretty fun too. It’s turn based, but you have the option to ‘default’, which means you defend and save up a turn, or ‘brave’ up to 4 times and attack 4 times in a row. It works really well, the game explains it well, and you’ll find yourself using brave and default even in regular battles. As you unlock new jobs, you’ll find some abilities which use brave points. They can be really powerful once you get the hang of using them.

Moving on from the mechanics of the game, I got into the plot pretty quickly. The ‘villains’ have complicated motivations, and aren’t all as bad as they first appear. I enjoyed the plot, and the optional side-quests (highly recommended because this is where you’ll get most of your jobs from) gave a lot more detail to the story. The story takes an unexpected turn about halfway through. It’s hinted at throughout the story, particularly in D’s Journal. I enjoyed the second half of the story as well as the first, even though they are quite different. The second half involves a fair bit of back tracking, however as you can turn the encounter rate down to 0% if you want too, it’s not that painful.

I also love the art style. The world looks amazing in 3D, and is still pretty good in 2D mode. My only complaint is that I wish the characters had more detailed and different faces. I also liked the music, particularly the music for Tiz and Ringabel’s special attacks.

The game also makes use of street pass and the internet, as I mentioned before, to gather townspeople for the Norende Village Restoration. You can also use ‘abilinks’ to get abilities your friends have already learnt. The game will give you a few friends if you don’t have any who play – Palbot and Buddybot, so you can enjoy these features even if no one you know plays the game.

The game also has a feature called ‘Bravely Second’. It allows you to attack at any time and surpass the damage/heal limit of 9999. You earn SP points by either leaving the game in sleep mode, or by spending money. This initially annoyed me, until I realized you really don’t need to use Bravely Second at all (I only used it a few times when a character died right on the turn I was going to beat a boss…), and you’ll get all the points you need by leaving the game in sleep mode – which you’ll have to do anyway to finish the Norende Village Restoration. So, you don’t need to spend any money, and it’s a feature you can pretty much ignore.

This review has gotten kinda long (though there’s still more I could talk about!), so I’ll wrap it up. All in all, Bravely Default is a very enjoyable game that you can get a lot of hours out of. I liked the fighting system and the job classes, and the fact that you can change the encounter rate and speed of the attack animations means the random battles don’t get tedious. I enjoyed the story and I liked the characters, though in some ways I preferred the ‘normal’ ending to the ‘true’ ending. This is a game I can see myself replaying, and I’d recommend it to anyone with a 3DS who likes RPGs.