Bravely Default is sort of a return to Square Enix’s flagship series, Final Fantasy. The world is being torn apart now that the four crystals have gone dormant. It’s up to four unlikely heroes to revive the crystals, stop an ever-looming empire, and bring peace to the land. It may sound stereotypical, but there are twists to the normal conventions. The real stars of the narrative are the four heroes of light. Their charming personalities will hook players into an otherwise standard tale.
Gameplay follows similarly to Final Fantasy V’s job system. Each hero can take on a job and set varying skills and abilities. Nothing groundbreaking, but it’s an excellent class system that builds and refines the template before it. In battle, players also have the choice of Defaulting, defending while gaining an extra turn, or Braving, using said extra turn. More so than most turn based RPGs, BD places strategy in gameplay. The greatest part of combat is that random encounters can be cranked up or down, making it fit right for any type of player. Plus encounters can be switched to auto and fast-forwarded. Little touches like these made the game addictive and truly hard to put down.
This art style is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy IX: pre-rendered backgrounds staged against gorgeous works of art. Because of this dichotomy between the background and characters, the 3D looks phenomenal. The open world is diverse and there are plenty of side attractions to keep one busy. As if this wasn’t enough, BD’s soundtrack is easily one of the best RPG scores in years. It really feels like a true reboot of Final Fantasy in every sense.
Bravely Default, well, words escape this writer. He could go on and on, but to sum it up: fantastic. Its one flaw is its experimental later third that drags on for a bit. Other reviewers dinged the game for it, but that section is quick and really doesn’t determinate the overall content of the game. It’s a drop in the hat to an otherwise impactful, fun adventure. This is the proof fans needed to see Square Enix still has the magic.
Score: 5/5 Stars
Special Notes: This article was originally published on June 26, 2014 via my Examiner account before the website shut down.