Bravely Default II offers a return to a simpler time where heroes lined up on one side of the screen, fought monsters on the other side of the screen, and then rinsed and repeated until peace and tranquility were brought back to the land. I’ve spent over 10 hours with it, and while what I’ve played so far hasn’t surprised me nearly as much as I’d hoped, it’s also shown Bravely Default II for Switch to be yet another satisfying and bespoke take on the classic JRPG.
It’s like a big heaping bowl of mac and cheese: a familiar yet delicious stack of carbs slathered in fatty and salty goodness where every bite tastes just like the one before it and yet you can’t stop eating until it’s gone. It’s comfort food, and like the best comfort food, it’s about giving you exactly what you already know you want: inspired by a time in your life when you felt safe, content and satisfied, at least for the length of a quick meal, or in this case, a grindy dungeon full of turn-based battles.
I’ve played a bunch of Bravely Default II in the past week and I’ll be playing a bunch more for our review when the game comes out later this month. In the meantime here are some of my initial thoughts:
- Bravely Default II is a lot like Bravely Second which was a lot like Bravely Default I which was a lot like The 4 Heroes Of Light which was a lot like Final Fantasy III. You visit towns; these towns have problems; you try to fix the problems by fighting battles, and inevitably end up leveling up, learning new abilities, and earning better gear in the process.
- The game’s story and world are new and completely separate from the first two games. It’s a clean and refreshing break with the past.
- Like its predecessors, the game revolves around a job system (classes) to augment your party’s fighting capabilities. Classic jobs like the DPS-heavy black mage and healer white mage return, but there are also new ones. Vanguards are like knights, but prefer axes to swords and come with a slew of abilities to debuff and aggro enemies.
- In general, I’ve found Bravely Default II’s make up of jobs and abilities to work even better at making use of its unique brave and default system. This system lets you bank turns to be used down the road, or take out a loan to take a bunch of turns early. Sometimes this is just about maximizing your balance of attacking and healing, but in the game’s tougher fights I’ve had to mastermind a spreadsheet of defense buffs, attack debuffs and status ailments to survive and outlast my opponents in drawn out wars of attrition.
- Bravely Default II is the first game in the series on Switch, and not surprisingly the best looking and sounding one by far. While the 3DS allowed past games to make interesting use of stereoscopic 3D backgrounds, Bravely Default II makes up for that with sprawling dungeons and city designs. I’ve gone to desert temples, bandit hideouts, mineshafts, magic academies, and yes, even the dreaded JRPG sewer level, but each felt like a delightful new twist on…
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