Bravely Default II just came out for Nintendo Switch and I can tell you it is worth immersing yourself in the small great world that Claytechworks has created. Story, combat and exploration mechanics, soundtrack... Is the new JRPG up to par?
"I am the one who whispers ... Who transports ... Who connects ...", In this Brevely Default II review, I intend to clear up all the doubts of those who are thinking of getting the new game in this JRPG saga. If you are one of those who really enjoyed Bravely Default and its sequel Bravely Second, most likely you are looking forward to this new installment.
And if you do not know this saga born in Nintendo 3DS and inspired by the classic JRPGs, it is likely that you are wondering if it is worth giving it a try, or if it can be enjoyed without having played the previous ones.
So let's see!
Bravely Default II From A to Z
The call of the inner ocean
We begin our adventure in Bravely Default II with a mysterious voice that belongs to one of the crystals that already played an important role in the previous games.
Yes, the crystals that represent water, fire, earth, and wind once again monopolize a part of the protagonism. We will have to recover them; however, it is to avoid the Nexus Nocte, or what is the same: calamities, disasters, and death.
With this starting point and shortly after starting to play, the main characters, the heroes of light, meet and their adventure begins.
On one side is Seth (we can change the name), who is shipwrecked and ends up stranded on the coast; there he meets Gloria, who tells him everything about the crystals; later they are united to the group Elvis and Adelle, who travel together and have common interests.
Everyone has their own motivations for embarking on the adventure, following the usual JRPG topics: from the typical "chosen" by destination to those who embark on the journey because they are a burden to those of their lineage.
Despite the fact that they tell us everything with an artistic layer different from the original, their adventure is not that it stands out above everything, but it is carried in a pleasant and not tiring way.
The story of Bravely Default II adopts a narrative approach that mimics the style of a book, divided into five chapters. In each of them, there are various plots that we must solve so that the story advances to the next episode.
And as usual in the genre, we also have an imposing villain: Adam, a mysterious character whose motivations are never entirely clear.
Keep in mind that Bravely Default II is a slow game that is not enjoyed immediately, something that is appreciated both when exploring and in the dialogues between the characters.
As in Octopath Traveler, we have the possibility to activate group conversations by pressing +, which allows us to empathize more with the protagonists through talks on different topics: from important events in the story to lighter issues. A detail that has reminded us of the copious dinners at the recent Sakuna: Of Rice and Ruin.
And if we ever miss a conversation, we omit it by mistake or do not remember certain moments in history, from the Travel Diary we can recall practically all the dialogues of the game, from the aforementioned group conversations to the scenes that we have lived until the moment. Very useful.
When it comes to moving around its world, Bravely Default II has a good variety of areas, some wider than others.
From the outset, its visual design may clash, as Bravely Default II's overworld is like a large miniature world that does not respect scale.
On this map, the characters are larger than the cities, but when you enter them everything takes on its "correct" proportions. This detail may surprise players less familiar with the genre, but it is a tribute to the classic JRPGs, such as the Final Fantasy, Golden Sun, Ni No Kuni 1 and 2, Tales of Symphonia, and many others.
Although the interior size of cities grow as we progress through the game, the options they offer do not vary that much and tend to distribute their possibilities between a market, a place of special interest -palace/cathedral- and secondary missions.
My favorite, Bravely Default II city, the biggest of them all, was unveiled earlier this year; the combination of visuals and OST that occurs in this location is intoxicating.
Something very interesting about cities is that it is worth returning to all of them from time to time for various reasons.
The first is the ship: it is a function that allows us to obtain materials, experience orbs, objects to increase statistics, etc., with the console idle. After 12 hours, we can return to the city from which we sent the ship to obtain our prize. This is a great idea that alleviates the "grinding" so common in these kinds of games.
Another reason is the secondary missions: Bravely Default II does not stop generating opportunities through the NPCs, and one example of this is the fact that, when returning hours later to the first city (or any of them), there are new secondary available. To facilitate the return to previous locations, we can use a carriage with which we move quickly between capitals
In addition, exploring is highly recommended: we can discover secret places, chests, etc., as well as brandish the sword to cut grass and find money or objects, in the purest Zelda style.
Apart from the cities, and also very much in line with the classic JRPG style that Bravely Default II pursues, sometimes we will also have to visit dungeons: labyrinths where in addition to exploring, a good number of fights await us. Visually, they are very striking, but their design can be improved.
The dungeons can become somewhat tedious, especially if we are not level enough to deal with the boss who usually waits at the end and we have to "farm" experience.
Using Brave and Default
The combat system, as we anticipated in our advance, continues to bet on turn-based development and the use of the Brave and Default system.
We must also take into account certain statistics, such as weight, which affect our speed and determine when we can act.
An important change of Bravely Default II with respect to the 3DS installments is that the combats are no longer random. Now, the enemies roam the map and the confrontation is activated when we come into contact with them. We can hit them with the sword to start with an advantage, obtaining an additional Brave Point (BP), but that does not guarantee us to attack first.
In this way, very varied combat situations are created, such as the case when all the enemies attack us (several times if they decide to spend BP) before our turn comes. AI has surprised us in that regard; We must be careful because they can make it difficult for us.
As in the previous installments, the Jobs are once again one of the keys to Bravely Default II. They are similar to the usual classes of this type of game (Black Magician, White Magician, etc.), with the difference that we can alternate between them whenever we want and level up as we perform them.
We can have the Main Job and a Secondary Job, and if they reach the maximum level (or almost), it is possible to use both at the same time. But it is advisable to choose two that are related, as there are combinations that are not too useful, such as, for example, White Magician (staves and/or bows) and Guard (axe and shield).
We have noticed that there are some jobs that are kind of repetitive when it comes to playing, while others have been rescued from the first game in the series. But there are also very interesting novelties, such as Trainer, Pictomante or Spiritual Master. In general, it is not possible to exploit the combinations, but it can be the case if we master them well.
As you can see, Jobs give a lot of play and offer multiple possibilities, but it doesn't end there: each Job has a series of secondary abilities that are usually passive during exploration or in combat.
And if you are concerned about the difficulty after suffering in the Bravely Default II demo, you can rest assured: it is not even remotely close to the final, unless we go directly to the most difficult one.
There are certain enemies that require a little more strategy, but the difficulty is more than successful and balanced at all levels, something that is a success and has taken away our initial negative impressions.
What hasn't changed much are the sensations that the technical section of Bravely Default II has left us with, which in general is very good, especially the visual finish.
In cities especially, everything looks like a hand-painted painting, almost as if it were an illustration with watercolors. He shows his worst side when exploring the world (more noticeable in dock mode than on laptop) since the characters have very low quality.
We have also noticed some slowdowns when performing spells or attacks that have a multitude of particle effects. Fortunately, it does not happen very often and the result is not serious; it's just a slight visual discomfort that doesn't affect gameplay, thanks to the slow-paced nature of turn-based combat. When playing in handheld mode, the slowdowns are less noticeable, but they are still there.
As in previous games, the design of the Bravely Default II characters is based on the "chibi" style, characterized by large heads (in relation to the body) and softened features. We have liked this type of aesthetic, but we understand that it is a style that may not be to everyone's liking.
We must also highlight the great visual variety that can be seen in cities, giving them an enormous personality.
For example, Halcionia has a more serious hierarchy and western style, while Savalon is an eastern court city under the command of a prince. As a curiosity, there are day and night cycles when exploring, although each lasts only about 45 seconds, with a sunset of 3 seconds.
As for the soundtrack, the composer Revo returns to delight us with melodies at the height of the 3DS games. In some areas, they become somewhat repetitive, as in dungeons, since songs are reused in the most common ones. Our favorite theme is without a doubt that of the battles against the Asterisks.
Final Words on Bravely Default II
Bravely Default II is a very good JRPG that can be enjoyed by both new and veteran players.
Even if the first one left you with a bittersweet taste in your mouth, it is worth a try. We had our pluses and minuses with the demo, but in the end, it was a very entertaining experience, which also offers many hours of play: between 45-50 to finish the story (and you still have a lot to do).
So, if you wanted to enjoy the best role on Nintendo Switch, after great titles like Xenoblade Chronicles II, Paper Mario The Origami King, Octopath Traveler, or Dragon Quest XI, make no mistake about it:
Bravely Default II is a great proposal that any lover of the JRPG will enjoy in a big way.