Estimated reading time: 14 minutes
Tell me something… do you ever get that buzz when you just want nothing more then to grab a controller and spend hours just diving into depth worthy JRPG? Then maybe you and I are alike! If you can’t get behind the idea of hours of grinding and listening to the beautiful music composed by the talented REVO, then maybe this genre of gaming isn’t your cup of tea. Hang onto your pantaloons, cuz this is going to be a long one!
Our story begins with a stranger washed ashore near a thriving community. Lost and confused, he meets a princess that is set on reviving her lost kingdom. She explains that the only way to bring prosperity back to the land and her kingdom is to collect the stolen elemental crystals. With its power in the right hands she could bring balance to the world. However, in the wrong hands, war and people of power are abusing its magic. Hearing her tale, our protagonist decided to aid the princess on her daring journey. Along the way they bump into two travelers who are also on the lookout for mysterious stones, called Asterisks. These magic imbued stones have the power to give people unimaginable abilities. Seeing that their quests are intertwined, the princess asks for their aid in exchange for helping them find what they’re looking for. With two sources of power to search for (the crystals and asterisks) scattered throughout the land our heroes set off on a spiraling adventure that turns up more secrets than what they hoped for.
A Cast of Colourful Characters
What’s a JRPG without a party of four? As we begin Bravely Default 2’s journey we are quickly introduced to our leading heroes. Seth, our amnesiac leader, is a sailor who drifted off the shores of Halcyonia. Caring and levelheaded, he tends to be at the forefront of every conversation and will protect his teammates with his life. Gloria, a princess from the lost kingdom of Musa, is dutiful and poised. Being raised in a noble environment has made her a little out of place in the world, but will always address the people around her with respect. Elvis, an apprentice scholar and mage, is hard at work looking to follow in his master’s footsteps. With nothing but a book full of knowledge, he keeps track of the Asterisks. Feeling a bit down today? Don’t worry, our junior magician will help keep the mood light with his witty humor. Adelle, a travelling mercenary, keeps the party in check with her forward attitude. As she travels to help the bunch, she is also keeping an eye out for her older sister, who disappeared from her hometown with more than just a bag of clothes.
Together, these individuals bring up a variety of flavor to the story. As each come from a different region of the land, you’ll hear the heavy and noticeable cultural ways they were raised through story-telling and hilarious banter between the each other.
We Fight to the Beat of our own Drums
Fighting in Bravely Default was always its strong suit. Just like it’s predecessors, this multi-class changing fighting style is what brings the aspect of fun and exciting to every battle. You’ll be fighting enemies around the clock with world map encounters, secret enemies, and boss battles, each having a level of difficulty. If you’re not prepared you could find yourself on the game over screen more then you’d like.
While traversing the world map or dungeon you’ll find that you’ll be able to see the enemies on screen, giving you the option to fight or flee. Unlike in the first game (and it’s sequel), BD2 (Bravely Default 2) has given you the ability to strike first. If you spot a monster on the field, don’t hesitate! Hit it first to give you a preemptive advantage. Turn your back and you’ll be giving the enemy the upper hand in battle. So plan carefully, otherwise the enemies could overpower you, or worse, swarm you with multiple enemy waves.
The early bird gets the worm, and in this case striking first gives you bonus points, or more accurately Brave Points. BP is the first of two meanings of the title. Braving allows you to unleash the stored up power you’ve collected to let loose a barrage of moves. In order to store those extra moves, you’ll have to tap into the Default Mode. Defaulting, the second meaning to the title, is your guard and defense. For every block you perform you gain a point of Brave. This mechanic will aid you in taking down those baddies. But be warned! You could risk yourself being wide open if you plan to be a bit ballsy by unleashing a flurry of attacks right at the start, causing you to go into the negatives. If your enemies are strong this tactic could leave you wide open to a beating, or you could go on the offensive and carefully build your power to rain down pain and bring the hurt in a more strategic method. The fate of the fight is in your hands.
Did I mention each character has a limit break or special attack that they can unleash, delivering unimaginable damage? Unlike in the original, where each characters specials were tied to the weapon they had equipped, these specials will be job specific and will have a certain requirement you need to fulfill in order to activate it, which will always be indicated at the top left corner during a fight that reads Special.
Other then Defaulting and Braving, your party will also be able to juggle duo job classes. Two is always better then One!
Help Wanted! Need a Job?
One of my favorite mechanics in turn-base RPG’s has the be the job system and BD2 does a lovely job at AMPing it up! Taking from it’s predecessor, job classes are in the form of Asterisks, which are powerful gems of inscribed magic that certain individuals hold throughout the game. In order to acquire said power you’ll have to beat up their owners.
Asterisk fights are common to the main story and you’ll have to fight your way through each unique style of fighting. Some jobs that you’ll acquire are ones we are familiar with, like White Mage, Black Mage, Monk and/or Bard. While others have a bit of a name change, Vanguard = Knight or Salve-Maker = Alchemist, and some go on to be new ideas of job classes I wouldn’t have considered in the first place, such as Gambler (Rage inducing), Pictomancer, Oracle, or Phantom.
There are 24 jobs in total to collect, like the first game. Some are easy, others are hidden, and there are those few jobs that’ll cause you to pull your hair and teeth out, making gathering them a challenge, yet rewarding to those who like doing things the hard way. Raise your hand if you’re a glutton for punishment!
As you trail along, collecting new job classes, you’ll have to level up, not only yourself, but the classes as well. With each victorious battle you’ll gain your usual EXP (Experience), as well as JP (Job Points). These points will help unlock unique abilities and other moves and/or spells to strengthen your classes’ power. The more points you collect, the stronger you’ll become.
Another interesting feature the game has introduced since the original title is the ability to dual-class. Having two job classes equipped at the same time really brings together a cauldron of chaos, doubling your chances of overthrowing your enemies, if you have the right professions equipped at the right time.
Revo is Revving it Up
REVO is back everyone, which means you’ll have to strap yourself down for the wild ride he’ll be bringing you on as you play through the game. Who is REVO you ask? Well, for some of you he is the original composer for the original game, and to others you might recognize him better from the band Linked Horizon (the first open from Attack on Titan! Ya! That band). This man’s music has always brought me to my knees, withering and drowning in an emotional pool of pure talent, and I couldn’t be happier to have him back on the BD team.
Once again, the music in the game is perfectly composed with the assortment of instruments that are used. Beautiful town and world map music is skillfully blended to change depending on the area and location you visit. Characters having a sole instrument of choice depicting their uniqueness and composure, whether in battle or during crucial moments that focus on character development. Boss battles that’ll have your heart racing and foot tapping to the rhythm of the beat, inspiring you to win and take down any foe. This musical artist never ceases to amaze me. You’ll be gripping the edge of your seat to hear what comes next as you play through this harmonious world. 10 out of 10 would recommend! Great for parties!
Excuse Me! Would you like to Play a Card Game?
What’s an RPG without a fun card mini-game? Apparently, these mini-games are a staple in many RPG’s I’ve played, because they pop up everywhere. However, B ‘n’ D (the name of the card game) is quite fun and easy to get into.
You’re introduced to this card game by the time you’ve reached the second town. You have the opportunity to challenge the various NPCs around the world. Not everyone will be able to play B ‘n’ D though, only those with a card symbol above their heads are eligible to play. You, and your opponent, will each have a ranking and will start the round with six cards. You play by gathering different monster and job cards through your opponents and face off in a territory, 5×5, checkered board playing field. You win if you’re the person to claim more area of control by color after playing all your cards.
Each monster card has numbered squares, shaped like Tetris blocks, that you can place on the field. You can only occupy a vacant space on the field when placing your card. You may, however, overlap your opponent if your monster or character card runs over their occupied space. Character cards are special as they tend to have an extra abilities of play when you activate them on the field. For every win you’ll gain points, and the more points you collect the higher the chances you have of stealing or acquiring your opponents cards.
There are also a set of hidden rules at the start of each match that tends to spice up the ante. So make sure you have a good strategy or a nice set of cards to topple your opponent, otherwise you might end up losing some strong cards, but don’t worry, you can always return to the original card holder to regain anything you may have lost.
It’s a nice little break from the story and I always get excited to see what my opponent has in store for me. But in all honesty… I just want to steal their cards!
Looks like You’re in Need of Some Help!
You know what my favorite pass-time is, other than card games? That’s right, it’s questing!
You’ll be able to help the locals with their problems via a blue speech bubble that’ll pop up over their head. I find the best way to know if someone needs help is by entering a town and using the panoramic view featured on the camera. This will not only show you where all the local establishments are, but also anyone who may need your assistance. Each quest will show you its difficulty, objective and reward. Questing is great for collecting strong or rare gear or even ability boosts (Extra Exp, JP, HP, etc). Each ongoing quest will show up on your screen as a colored marker and will guide you towards your goal. You can juggle multiple quests at once, but can only have three makers present on screen. If you’d like to review or change your quest objective you can enter your menu and select which one you’d like to focus on. Make sure you’re prepared though, as you may have to fight a strong boss or travel back and forth through familiar areas to achieve your goal.
Gunna Need That Sweet Sweet JP
The way I most enjoyed the game, while not feeling like the entire world is here to beat you to a pulp, is grind grind grind! Sure, there are enemies as far as the eye can see, but you’ll only get the minimal amount of EXP and JP if you only fight them one battle at a time. The best thing the game has to offer in terms of gaining a lot of extra bonus points is multi-battles. This can be achieved by herding monsters towards you or spooking them into the same corner and clustering them together. This will activate a chain reaction, which will pull together multiple rounds of fighting. In doing so you’ll gain a ‘Consecutive Battle’ bonus that’ll increase by 1 for each fight you continue.
This is where the bread and butter of farming comes in, but this at times can be a bit challenging. Have no fear, because BD2 provides monster treats that can lure specific types of monsters towards you. When you attract a monster with a treat you are guaranteed at least 2 – 4 battles in a row, which is great for bringing in all the bonuses towards your victory rewards. You can also attract more than one creature at once, not only giving you your multi-battle experience, but the extra chain of monsters, boosting your encounter to 2 – 8, giving you all the glory of bonus points.
Another unique aspect to BD2 has to be its wide culture of characters and environmental differences. It’s what stood out the most to me from the very beginning. You’ll find that the entire cast of the game is pulled from all corners of ethnicity. It’s a nice change of pace to go from land to land and hear the different accents that everyone has to offer. The same can be said about the the four main characters.
But what really rounds out the game has to be the change in music when going from one area to another. Again, REVO shows that his talent for musical genius by ever so slightly changing either the tempo in his score or the instrument that plays. It gives me chills when I travel through dry dessert, into lush hillside of trees and greenery, to frozen winter wonderlands. These minor details are not missed and just goes to show the diversity that this game has to offer.
A Sea Shanty Worth Listening To
One of the big changes that the Bravely Default series seems to have left out is the online connection. No more are you having to store up powerful attacks and send them through the vast web in hopes to aid another fellow adventure currently playing through the game. No more are you having to wait several hours of real in-game time in order to gain extra items through new townspeople joining your little community.
Those are things of the past. Now the game sets you off on your tiny sail boat to explore unknown territory. You personally don’t go anywhere, it’s just a mini-scavenger game that happens behind the scenes and will occasionally give you an update on its exploration. It does still use in-game passage of time to progress forward, but not in hourly stretches. More like every 15 minutes your phantom vessel will update you on it’s whereabouts. Most of the time it’ll just roam aimlessly, but from time to time you’ll come across treasure chests, which tend to house booster buns, Exp Orbs, and JP orbs. This off-screen exploration is extremely useful in gaining those extra stat boosts in a quicker fashion.
A Long Sought Out Ending
To conclude, Bravely Default 2 is a grand successor to the original title. The love and flow of battle is vamped up to be more exhilarating with a killer soundtrack to motivate you through tough times. Colorful and vibrant with its cast of characters and locations you’ll never bore yourself with its beauty. Its only flaw seems to be the story-telling, but if a slow burn tale is what brings you to a boil, then BD2 may be the perfect game for you.
I’m giving this intricate title a 9 out of 10 for being a near perfect example to the JRPG genre. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ll be farming for some more JP over yonder hill— EXCUSE ME, SIR! WOULD YOU LIKE TO PLAY A CARD GAME!?Score: 9 / 10