- Developer: Square-Enix
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Release Date: 26/02/2021
- Price: £49.99 / $59.99
- Review code provided by Nintendo
Introducing: Bravely Default II Nintendo Switch Review
With the rapid success of the Nintendo Switch in its debut years, I wasn’t surprised to see support for the 3DS dwindle. That begged me to question what would happen to some of my favorite franchises that were handheld exclusives. Bravely Default was one series that I hoped wouldn’t die off but be given more exposure on Nintendo’s hybrid system. Following Nintendo’s Direct presentation in late 2018 when they announced a slew of Final Fantasy games, it was evident that Square Enix would have strong support for the Switch console and it would only be a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’ Bravely Default would find a new home. So does this new iteration get brave on the big screen or does it default into what made it a success back in 2012? What has changed and is it worth buying today?
Let me start by getting one thing out of the way. Just because there’s a two in the title, doesn’t mean you have to have played the first game. Or even Bravely Second for that matter. The story is standalone and doesn’t require you to have experienced the other titles. Much like the Final Fantasy series, there are common threads throughout which weave the worlds together.
The story in Bravely Default II is deep and immersive. You get a sense of importance from the beginning which carries through. And don’t let the adorable chibi characters fool you into thinking this is a bright and cheery game aimed at a younger audience. The themes found within have dark undertones which set a serious stage. Without giving too much away, there was one point where you encounter a couple who have lost a child. You’re then faced with a seemingly misunderstood youth who just needs a hug or two. I bet my son, that following the boss battle with this profligate juvenile, the mourning couple would likely adopt the wayward child. Let’s just say I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Bravely Default II is the fantastic tale of a young sailor named Seth, who gets swept up in an intriguing adventure where he aims to help an exiled princess recover four elemental crystals. The story plays out like a fairy tale where four heroes sweep across the world, visiting foreign nations and helping people along the way. As epic as the journey is, the focal point is on the heroes. The characters are fully realized and affluent in design. It was easy to become endeared to their plight and want to learn more about them as you watch them learn from one another and grow into legends.
The Next Morning
Bravely Default II pays homage to classic JRPG’s. Combat is turn-based with in depth leveling and free exploration of the world map. It’s hard to say what the crowning achievement in the Bravely series is. I’d venture to say the job system is the crown as it integrates the story into the combat and has remarkable depth. The job system begs to be explored and experimented with, giving the player countless ways to approach various enemies in the game. And if the job system is the crown, then the brave/default combat system is the jewel encrusted at its center. It marks a critical shift in the battle system that it lends its name to the whole series.
The brave/default battle system gives a unique approach to the classic turn-based combat of past RPGs. Though still the same at its core, the brave/default system feels more approachable in modern gaming. By using the brave command, you can have one character string together up to four attacks in a row. Doing so outright will cause them to miss a few turns so you want to use it strategically. Mainly when you know you can end a battle quickly. Or if your party is near death with one character out cold, you can have your mage revive the fallen comrade and follow up with a few healing spells or even buffs.
Using the default command, your character can enter a defensive position and mitigate incoming damage. Doing so will store a “brave point” that they can bank for their next turn. You can store up to three brave points which will allow you to perform four moves without having to skip any turns. There’s a lot of advantages to this style and it’s a fresh take on classic gameplay. One thing I noticed as a departure from the other Bravely games is that you no longer input every party member’s command and then initiate the battle sequence. This time around, your characters partake in battle one at a time. It makes more sense with the different skills and effects and feels like a natural evolution from the past entries.
The job system is magnificent in Bravely Default II. It borrows from past games so it’s not a new concept by any means. But its implementation is certainly a crowning achievement. It has a lot of creative classes and character designs but is also incorporated in the story. As you level up your job, you unlock both passive and active skills. The passive skills can be reserved for use later, even after you’ve moved on to a new job. You can equip a secondary job to have access to active skills you’ve previously unlocked. Experimenting with a multitude of combinations is exciting as you can customize your strategy and create an unstoppable team.
By the Light of the Sun
The Bravely Default series has a gorgeous aesthetic. The backgrounds look like beautiful works of art, painted by soft brushstrokes. The characters are vibrant and the world and inhabitants have a lot of variety. The people retain the chibi-esque look the series is known for and each job has a unique outfit. Bravely Default has one of my favorite art styles and I find the world absolutely mesmerizing. For a game born on a handheld console, I expected to primarily play it as such. Moving from the 3DS to the Switch was seamless, despite the latter lacking a second screen. But once I docked my Switch and saw it on the big screen, it was hard to go back.
The music is equally beautiful, with epic scores that match the tempo of the story and the world. Each area has its own theme and battles echo the soundtrack. The voice acting is superb to say the least. The actors should give themselves a pat on the back for bringing life to the digitized cast with outstanding performances. Not to be left in the dust, the sound effects possess the same quality as the rest of the game. No matter how I played Bravely Default II, either docked or handheld, it looked and sounded great and ran just as smoothly.
Bravely Default II is the epitome of a classic role-playing game rooted in retro flair that sets itself apart in the genre and shines brightly. Not only does it hit all of the elements that make up a winning RPG with a strong levelling system, engaging combat, lovable characters and a deep narrative, it does so exceedingly well. Bravely Default II is a must have for any RPG fan. I usually take this moment to justify how the price is worth the purchase, but instead, I’ll say it’s worth buying a Nintendo Switch just for this game.
- Memorable Cast
- Gorgeous Art Style
- Engaging Combat and Job System
- Bravely Default and Bravely Second aren’t available on the Switch