Recently I, like many other 3DS owners, downloaded the demo for Square-Enix’s upcoming RPG Bravely Default. Not sure what I expected from an RPG from Square, thanks to their current track record, but what I took away from the demo of Bravely Default surprised me quite a bit.
Unlike many other demos out there for major releases, Bravely Default gives you a different story to test the games’ many mechanics and strategies. It’s not just some random point in the game that you get thrust into – instead, it’s its own standalone adventure. It’s a nice change for a company to do this with a demo, that way when the full game is released I don’t have to rehash events I’ve already experienced.
It’s also nice that Square is allowing some things to carry over from the demo to the retail version. Sadly, no character or town progression will transfer, but throughout the demo you will hit certain requirements and unlock some items that will be available once you pick up the retail copy. For me, I received a bunch of equipment, and some healing items that will make the start of the game a bit easier.
As for the game itself, it’s quite fun but can be a bit daunting and complex to those not familiar with an RPG that uses a “Job System”. The “Job System” allows any one of your characters to fulfill any role in the party, just by switching up their ‘job’. In the demo they give you access to the Knight, Red Mage, Black Mage, White Mage, Sword Master, Ninja, Freelancer, Valkyrie, and Performer, each of which has their own strengths, weaknesses, and unique role in the party. The access they give to such a diverse amount of jobs allows for a ton of experimentation with different abilities and party layouts. Aside from the normal character-level progression, characters’ individual jobs will level up as you earn job points. As a job levels up, you are granted certain abilities; some of these will do things like giving you some more power in attacking enemies or making it harder for enemies to hit you. Once you’ve unlocked an ability for a job, it’s possible to switch to a different job and retain those abilities you’ve already unlocked from the first job. All in all it sounds much more complex than it is in practice.
The big change to your average RPG that Bravely Default introduces is the brave/default mechanic. While Bravely Default at its’ surface appears to be just another turn-based RPG, the brave/default system allows for a giant change up to the stale and pretty tired battle system. With this system, on a characters’ turn you can ‘default’, which is like the defend command seen in other JRPGs, but also builds up your BP count. Each turn you are given 1 BP and a character with 0 or negative BP gets no actions that turn. BP determines how many actions you can take in a single turn, and some abilities require BP. On the opposite side, you can chose to ‘brave’ up to four times per character, per turn. When you brave you can take additional actions equal to the amount of times you brave, but at the cost of BP.
This mechanic adds much more depth to the battle system. At higher levels, choosing to brave multiple times against weaker opponents is a viable strategy, but against harder enemies doing this will cost you and your party dearly.
Bravely Default releases here in the states on February 7th for the Nintendo 3DS. Thanks to the demo this was originally a game I was going to write off, but I genuinely enjoyed my time with the game and I’m almost positive that I will be picking it up at launch. If you are into JRPGs or just want to see what Bravely Default is all about, I recommend checking out the demo available now in the Nintendo E-Shop. Keep your eyes on Gaming Death.com when the retail version comes out for more info on Bravely Default.