Written by: Frances Morgan
It seems that, in the past few years, Square Enix has forgotten
the formula that made its definitive games so popular. For better or for worse, the JRPGs of old were filled with enemy encounters
and lots of level grinding, all set to a backdrop of sprawling, colorful worlds, catchy music, and a standard save-the-world-from-evil
plot. While that’s sat perfectly well with many gamers, some have been hoping for a return to the old ways, for a Final
Fantasy for the current generation. Bravely Default is absolutely that game. Better yet, Bravely Default is a game thar
brings a few interesting new twists on old-school gameplay mechanics, and every one of these changes is for the better.
Long-time JRPG fans will have heard this one before: four magical
crystals have suddenly lost their luster, causing the fantasy world the game is set in to fall apart. It is up to four young
heroes to journey across the land and return the crystals to their former glory, doing battle with hordes of monsters along
the way. Repeat for several hours, and boom, final boss.
But make no mistake – the derivative nature of the plot was
entirely intentional, a rather unsubtle callback to the adventures of the NES and SNES. Bravely Default will not be remembered
for its story – after all, what old-school JRPG was? Rather, Bravely Default should be recognized for its brilliant
melding of JRPG battle mechanics old and new, as well as its highly polished presentation that will leave any devoted RPG
fan bursting at the seams with nostalgia.
Combat is comprised of standard turn-based attacks and item usage
with a unique twist: players can choose to Brave – borrow up to a maximum of three turns per character per individual
battle and use them in one turn – or Default – giving up a turn and saving it for later. This adds considerable
depth to the familiar battle system, and when combined with the game’s extensive job class system, leaves players with
an experience unlike any other on the market today.
The graphics and music are charming and fun, the option for 3D visuals
allowing for scenes that look almost like something out of a children’s pop-up book. Everything is just bursting with
personality, and it’s difficult to dislike a game with such gorgeous hand-painted backgrounds and cutesy, super-deformed
Combine all of this with the options to adjust difficulty, enemy
encounter rates, and battle speed at any time, and you have one of the best RPGs to come out in years.
- Gameplay: 9.5
- Graphics: 9.5
- Audio: 9
- Replay Value: 7
Final Review Score: 9/10