Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bravely Default

So as I mentioned in my previous post, along with my red 3DS XL, I bought a copy of Bravely Default.  I've got about about six and a half hours of gameplay under my belt so far, and stuff has happened story-wise, so here are my thoughts on the game.

Bravely Default is a pretty neat RPG.  Its main gameplay mechanics (Brave and Default) allow you to gamble with your turns in battle.  Take a few extra actions immediately (Brave), but not be able to do anything with that character for a few turns, or save your turn (Default) and get multiple actions in a later turn (Brave).  At first it sounds kind of weird, but so far it's worked quite well at letting me strategize in battle.  The use of it that's easiest for me to explain is saving turns on your healer (who probably won't have a very good attack anyway), so if you have to do a bunch of cleanup after a particularly nasty attack, you can get it all over with in one turn and bounce back that much faster.

That's just the tip of the "interesting mechanics" iceberg.  In the in-game menus you can adjust your encounter rate.  The game has the dreaded random battles, but this option lets you decide how often you get pulled into one.  So if you really just want to get back to town, you can turn them off entirely, or if you're looking to sit in one place and level up, you can crank it up and make that whole process go faster.  For someone like me who habitually grinds in console RPGs, this is an amazing feature, especially when coupled with a few other things I'll mention in the next paragraph.

While in battle, you can use the d-pad to speed up the animations of your characters and the enemies attacking.  Whatever speed you leave it at, it stays there until you change it again.  Also, by hitting Y, you can turn on Auto mode, which makes your characters attack without you having to press a button.  Combine this with jacking up the encounter rate, and grinding out a few levels when you want them goes pretty quickly.

The game also has a job system, which I personally really like.  Yes, it adds complexity to the game, but it's a good complexity.  It lets you choose precisely how you want your party to function, meaning you can customize your role-playing experience and have your party fight with your own unique fighting style that you prefer.  To aid you in setting this up, each job has a grade with each weapon and armor type, and this grade will show everywhere you ever wanted it to, meaning it's easy to see what equipment you should be equipping for a specific character with a specific job.  Also, each character has their own outfit for each job, so there's a visual element to choosing your party composition as well.

It integrates with the 3DS StreetPass feature, letting you get powerful allied attacks from people.  You can also select an option in the save menu that will go grab some random people's attacks off of the internet, if you ever find yourself lacking in StreetPasses.  Also integrated is the sleep mode feature on the 3DS.  Every eight hours you leave your 3DS in sleep mode with the game running, you'll get a "Sleep Point" you can use to completely ignore the turn-based nature of the game's combat and injecting extra actions whenever you want.  You can also pay real money for three Sleep Points as opposed to having to wait eight hours for one, but since the entire thing is optional, feel free to ignore it.

Alongside the regular gameplay is a minigame of sorts that's running constantly in the background.  In the very beginning of the game, the main character's village is destroyed and he's the only survivor.  He ends up in charge of rebuilding the village, and the minigame is precisely this.  For every StreetPass Mii you have, your village gains a citizen, that you can put to work helping to rebuild.  Everything has a certain amount of time it takes to complete, and putting more people on something will reduce that amount of time.  You can start this going in the background and go about your business with the game's normal gameplay, and come back to find you now have an item shop or something.  I currently have six citizens who've been working their asses off reclaiming sections of the city and upgrading things.

Throughout the game, you'll find a trader from this village who will trade you things from the village.  You also get random things from him from time to time, just by checking up on the village's progress (I just opened my 3DS and was greeted with three consumable items from him).  He also acts as a save point within dungeons.

Every time you bring up the save screen or the party menu, the game uses the lower screen to remind you of what you're supposed to be doing, which I greatly appreciate.  It lets you put down the game and do other things for a while, and then easily remember where you needed to go next when you pick it up the next time.

Since we've been talking about the settings for the game, I'll bring up that you can change the audio language to Japanese.  Sadly, I didn't see a way to do it before the opening cutscene, but once I could bring up the party menu and inspect the settings, I found it and enabled it immediately.  I have noticed that the opening cutscene can be viewed again from the title screen, as well as two options below it which are currently question marks (yay unlockable stuff!).

I've noticed this, and after I did so the game made mention of it: You can do almost everything in the game entirely with your left hand.  The analog nub thing is your movement, left and right on the d-pad can be confirm and cancel (as well as opening up the menu on the lower screen and scrolling through it), and L lets you talk to people and interact with things.

Time to wrap this post up.  Bravely Default is a good JRPG with mechanics that keep gameplay fresh.

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