Release Date of the Full Version: February 26 2021
Available Platforms: Nintendo Switch
A trend I began to notice around 2014 is with the return of the classic JRPG formula. The chief example I can think of at the time is Bravely Default, a game that reminds me of Final Fantasy 3 (Japanese) and 5. This is a beautiful thing, as those are among my favorite Final Fantasy games. They have dynamic job switching and character-building options. I liked many other Final Fantasy games, but three and five were the ones I enjoyed the most in terms of gameplay. When I heard of Bravely Default on the 3DS, I decided to check it out since it looked like a return to the classic job system formula,
with a twist. I can honestly say, Bravely Default was the best Final Fantasy game that isn’t in the Final Fantasy series.
Flash forward to 2020, where we get an announcement from Nintendo that Bravely Default 2 is coming in 2021, but that there was a playable demo available. I wasted no time downloading the demo. Since the full version of Bravely Default 2 comes out very shortly (at the time of this writing), I figured I would give my impressions on its
demo. Is Bravely Default 2’s demo a brave preview of things to come?
Bravely Default 2’s demo introduces us to our four heroes: Seth, a young sailor who washed ashore an unfamiliar kingdom. Gloria, the princess of the kingdom on a quest to retrieve the elemental crystals to save her kingdom. Elvis, a scholar who seeks the means to translate a mysterious book he inherited from his mentor. Finally, we have
Adelle, a mercenary hired by Elvis, to help him in his exploits. In the demo, our heroes stumble upon a rumor of a mysterious crystal spotted by the locals. Whatever this crystal may be, our heroes set off to investigate.
A big part of Bravely Default that stuck with me was the characters. I liked the dynamic that they had with each other, and their lore was as enjoyable. I was surprised to find that Bravely Default 2 had a completely different ensemble of heroes from the first was only later that I found out that Bravely Second: End Layer is the true sequel to Bravely Default. From what I understand, Bravely Default 2 is to Bravely Default as Final Fantasy 2 is to Final Fantasy, in that they are entirely different stories.
As for Bravely Default 2’s characters, I like them just as much as Bravely Default’s characters (so far). I love Elvis’s personality, Gloria’s focus, and Adelle’s banter between herself and Elvis. The only character that hasn’t left an impact on me (yet) is Seth. I feel Seth is a little milquetoast. He isn’t bad, per se, but I haven’t seen a moment yet where his character shines. Despite the demo’s story being a little basic, it did make me want to find out where all of this was going.
I loved Bravely Default’s art style. It reminded me of the DS remake of Final Fantasy 3 (Japanese), which also had an excellent art style. Bravely Default 2 falls into this same category but in high definition. The city looks like a gorgeous painting of an oasis. The camera is far away to show the whole city while the player navigates from one building to another. Despite some areas being visually busy, points of interest pop-out in one way or another. Townspeople have a thought bubble over their heads, indicating the player can interact with them. The ones that offer a side quest have a blue thought bubble. Inns and shopkeepers have unique icons to let the player know who they are, and treasure chests are bright red, making them stand out.
What I like the most about Bravely Default 2’s visuals are the outfits the characters wear to represent their job. Gloria in the White Mage outfit looks like she’s wearing a haute-couture fur coat and hat. Adelle wears a gorgeous Chinese inspired dress as a Monk, and Elvis’ Black Mage get-up makes him look suave. While I remember Bravely Default having unique outfits for each job, I don’t remember them looking this good.
Bravely Default’s gameplay is what brought me to the series, and it is what got me interested in Bravely Default 2. Bravely Default 2’s combat plays similarly to classic Final Fantasy games. It is a turn-based RPG where each character takes their turn to attack their enemy. The goal is to get the enemy’s HP (Hit Points) down to 0. If the HP of all of the player’s characters reaches 0, it’s game over.
Bravely Default (and thus, Bravely Default 2) adds to this mechanic is in the eponymous Brave and Default actions. At the cost of Battle Points (BP), the player can take multiple actions on that same turn. The catch is, if the player uses more BP than they have, they will go into a BP deficit (negative BP). The character will skip their turn and recover 1 BP until the debt is repaid. The Default option allows the player to assume a defensive stance (increase Defence and Magic Defence) while also earning an additional BP. Characters can store a maximum of three BP.
The risk and reward gameplay of Bravely Default 2 is phenomenal. No matter what battle I find myself in (either in a random encounter, or against a boss), I always have to pay attention to what enemy I’m attacks, how I’m attacking, and I also have to make sure that taking all of the BP will defeat the group of enemies before going all in. Being
able to plan my battles like this on the fly makes me feel astute.
One area I do feel Bravely Default 2 could improve on is the music. The soundtrack isn’t bad, but it is a far cry from Bravely Default, where the Asterisk battle theme from that game stuck with me for years after I played the game. I will give Bravely Default 2 some credit; the full version of the game might have tracks I haven’t heard yet that will blow my mind, but from what I heard in the demo, Bravely Default 2’s music left me wanting.
My readers might already know this, but for those who are new, I generally like a little bit of a challenge to my games. For a game of this genre to feel satisfying, it has to put up a fight. The first version of Bravely Default 2’s demo heard me say this and decided to wipe the floor with me. So much so that it put me off to the game.
I fell the recent version of the demo toned down the difficulty immensely, but it is still worth noting that those who are careless will get pummeled into oblivion. Even still, the boss of the demo is no joke. I had to max out my character levels (level twenty for the demo) and incorporate skills from other jobs into my current strategy. I find the difficulty just right in the new version of the demo, but I feel it will still deter more casual fans of RPGs.
Those who feel brave enough to challenge Bravely Default 2’s monsters should give the demo a try. It has charming characters, beautiful visuals, and deep, addicting gameplay. For those who loved the demo and want more, the full version of Bravely Default 2 comes out on February 26, 2021.