Saturday, January 04, 2014

Bravely Default (Demo)

Demo Version  Town
It's been a long time since I've played a JRPG as tightly polished, beautiful, authentic and fun as the Bravely Default demo that was recently released on the Nintendo eshop.  (see the Demo Trailer)

Taking a clear homage from the old-school DS JRPG  4 Warriors of Light, Square-Enix's Bravely Default is its own creature and it is, I can say with little reservation, the kind of RPG that we've been sorely missing on the Nintendo 3DS or anywhere else for that matter.

In the intervening years since Final Fantasy VII, the JRPG genre has morphed from AAA status to a niche genre derided for its steadfast refusal to change and its often anime inspired tropes and designs.  While some of it comes down to ethnocentric derision of the foreignness/silliness of the premise of the stories found in these games, at their core, fantasy based JRPGs are I think still vastly appealing to the gaming public.

Bravely Default appears to deliver in this regard.  The demo is essentially a self-contained mini-RPG. Rather than present a cut-down out of context segment of the full game. There is plenty to see and do even with its single town, and 4 mini-dungeons. It took me 7 hours, with grinding and experimentation with the game's job and abilities system, to complete the demo.

Screenshot Source: Siliconera
The demo does a good job of introducing players to the game's unique mechanics.  At its core is the Brave and Default mechanics.  Think of it like borrowing and saving turns.  Brave allows characters in a party to borrow future turns, up to 3, to perform 4 actions right off the bat, in exchange for being defenseless for the next 3 turns.  Default works like the old 'defend' mode when you have no particular action for your character.  Choosing default not only increases your character's defense for that turn,  it also stores the unused turn,  so that the player could conceivably withdraw it for use later on.    What this simple system enables is a rich strategic balance in fights.   Against 'trash' mobs encountered for grinding, I often find myself tapping into the Brave mechanic for my damage dealers, dishing out 12 to 16 attacks on my opening salvo, often not giving the enemy a chance to attack and saving consumables and my mage's MP.   On boss fights, I default my mages first few turns as the boss mobs are unlikely to do any signficant damage, then dish out Cure, Protect in quick succession while my damage dealers are temporarily out of the fight while regaining points after their 4 hit opening salvos.   It's a nice balance that I find is workable 

There are also a lot of progressive things in this game.  Random encounters can be turned all the way up +100% or down -100%, allowing players to dictate when they grind.  Walking back to town after a hard battle is no longer an annoyance, nor is exploring dungeons for secret passages. Both can be done in safety.

I can't wait for the full game.  Collector's Edition get.