Square Enix's Nintendo 3DS masterpiece is coming to the west.
Back when the Japanese version of Bravely Default came out, I shamefully backed away from it. This is something I certainly regret, because my experiences in the demo version of the title left me wanting more. The major problem was that those same demos also gave me my RPG fill, which is not great if you want to push yourself over the edge. However, I am glad that I waited, since I finally got to try out a snippet of the European version with a fresh and open mind.
Te demo opens as Tiz and his newly formed party head to the ruins of the Temple of Wind. Agnes, who saw this place as her home, is saddened by its destruction. The acolytes who protected the temple are gone, many of who are now dead. Monsters now roam around freely in the temple’s remains. The team must now make their way to a gigantic crystal, so Agnes may pray at its base. However, its glow has been swallowed up by the darkness. Much of this story was presented via cutscenes, but due to audio restrictions at the event I was at, I couldn't experience them at their best. The written dialogue that was exchanged in cutscenes, however, was very charming.
As for the gameplay, while moving about in the various areas a map on the touchscreen helps you pinpoint your goals and plan your journey without getting lost. When the battles kick in, you pick your attacks from a menu in a similar manner to many other Square Enix titles. You’ll have to think carefully about every step. In the battles you’ll also be able to take advantage of Bravely Default’s unique job system where you can assume the role of various classes.
Your jobs level up alongside your character. There are 24 jobs in the game, and I was able to toy around with the Knight, Magic Swordsman, Black Mage and White Mage. All characters, regardless of their job, could perform a simple attack, but the effects were pretty limited. It was better to rely on the abilities of the various classes, as they put a whole bunch of moves at your service. Personally, I liked the set of moves of the Black Mage the most, as they helped to clear enemies at a fairly rapid rate.
Nevertheless, what made the battle system much more immersive than any other game of its type, were the Brave Points. A character can take a defensive stance, adding more points to the mix. These points allow you to use more battle options in a single turn, and this adds an additional layer of strategy to the mix. Even if you’re low on BPs, you can still go and make up to four decisions with one character. The big problem is, however, that if the points go below zero, your character will be open to all enemy attacks. Of course, you can easily revive them with a White Mage spell or with something from your handy list of items.
The demo of the game looked beautiful with the characters and environments sporting a unique drawn look. The 3D effect adds to this experience as it gives power to various dynamic camera angles, which make the ride very engaging. At moments, the sight was like a living lenticular painting with lush colors and an incredible view. In the darker areas, the unpleasant feelings were also well projected towards the player.
Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies could be the last great game of 2013, but the questions about the voice acting remain. The English sound bites from the trailers don't seem all that promising, but then again, Japanese voices are still available. So far, the game looks and plays like a dream. I can't wait for the end of 2013 to see how the full game turns out.