We tell you our impressions after having played the first two chapters of Bravely Default II, the next big launch on the Nintendo console
In 2013 fans of Japanese role-playing games were met with a pleasant surprise from Claytechworks, Bravely Default. Critically acclaimed and with an 85 in metaescore, the use of synergies between jobs and the depth that gave the fight the bravely mode and the default that give it its name were especially highlighted. Eight years later, the third installment of the saga arrives on Nintendo Switch, taking into account that Bravely Second: End Layer is a direct sequel to the first title. After several hours into the story that Bravely Default II presents, we bring you our first impressions of the long-awaited JRPG.
The chosen one without a name
They say that all good stories begin in a tavern, especially if that tavern is frequented by bards, drunks, characters that seem straight out of a Discworld novel, and the odd hero. Bravely Default II begins on a beach after a catastrophic shipwreck, but its protagonist soon reunites with a diverse group in a tavern to assume the role of hero. This starter is likely to be familiar to fans of the JRPG genre, and the similarity it shares with other titles is not in vain. Like the first installment in the series, the new SquareEnix title is an ode to its predecessors from the 16-bit era. Its story is archetypal, and from what we have seen throughout its first two chapters, it remains without surprises within the narrative structure of classic Japanese role-playing games.
All the natural disasters that are occurring in nearby lands have their origin in the theft of elemental crystals that, conveniently, one of our companions has the mission of collecting. We will not go into more details about the story to avoid spoiling, but we anticipate that the story progresses in such a traditional way that it is predictable. The rhythm is marked by chapters, each of them in a different location, with several dungeons and intermediate final bosses before finding the true cause of the chaos in each area. Of course, in between we will have many hours of farming and side missions in which we will take on the part-time job of messenger.
But on the other hand this familiarity is warm. It’s a similar feeling to people who are fond of Western movies: most have a virtually identical structure, and that’s precisely why they like them. These moviegoers have the story they seek to expropriate to see, and players looking for a classic JRPG experience will find it in the hours that Bravely Default II lasts. While it is true that there are unexpected script twists, characters whose masks fall at key moments and it is interesting to advance in the story to learn about the past of our fellow travelers, all this is framed in a canonical and chapter structure typical of the genre. As we progress through certain points in the story, we will be able to access different conversations that will make us smile or give us clues about the personality of our groupmates, a change of pace that is appreciated between combat and combat.
At this point we want to highlight the localization work, one of the strengths of the translation of the title. With the texts completely in Spanish, the language adapts to each character to highlight their personality and origin. For example, one of our main colleagues speaks with totally Argentine expressions, as do his acquaintances from the same city. All of this is complemented by two voice-overs for the main and cinematic conversations, in both English and Japanese. In addition, we can change the language of the voices at any time during the game.
Mechanics that try to streamline the classic formula
A fundamental aspect that consumes many hours of play in this type of title are the battles. As in its predecessor, the bravely and default modes allow you to borrow up to three turns or accumulate them to use the actions that correspond to us later, which means that the combats have an extra layer of depth. This, added to the infinity of combos that the synergies between the jobs that we unlock each time we finish with a final boss offer us, will allow us to be victorious against enemies that are objectively much more powerful than ourselves. Because yes, one of the strengths of the title is the incredible variety of available jobs and the combos that can be generated between them. This will allow us to create different strategies according to the weaknesses and behavior patterns of the enemy who comes before us, which makes each confrontation a world.
In any case, the strategic possibilities that are offered to us do not eliminate the need for dozens of hours of classic farming to increase the necessary levels, not only for our characters but also for the jobs assigned to them at the time. Luckily, mechanics such as bravely and default modes, area attacks and objects that allow us to initiate chains of combats that provide us with experience multipliers make the mission easier, but the need to spend time farming is still there. We understand that it is an element of the genre, but we consider it in a certain way a burden of the JRPG that tends to not respect the player’s time. In terms of artistic style, the settings and cities are beautiful and each has its own character. At least in those that we have been able to see, the care in the design of the different locations is appreciated, each one agrees with the story that is told in the town in question and has its personal charm. There are chests that will cost us more to find, and it is entertaining to locate the most complicated ones.
For their part, the enemies and their designs are not particularly memorable, but they do fit what is expected of them. Each one has its characteristics that we must reveal as we attack them or when we inspect them, and depending on the jobs we have on campus, we can even use them for our own benefit later. As for the final bosses, we have noticed a difference in impact on the player: some mark a lot both history and us, while we will have forgotten the others five minutes after we have defeated them.
The good news is that if the opposite happens and the enemy kills all the members of our team, we will soon face him again. The loading screens are not excessively long, but there are certain moments in which several cinematics are chained and between each of them there is a black screen. It also happens when entering and leaving cities or when moving from one floor to another of the dungeons. However, when starting and ending the fighting, for example, the screen processing is quite fast. In addition, within the matches we can increase the speed of all attacks, which is appreciated considering the number of duels that we will have to fight throughout the title. In terms of FPS, we have experienced some frame drops, especially when starting group conversations. The resolution in laptop mode is adjusted to 720p offered by the screen, while in desktop mode it reaches 1080p.
The Bravely Default II soundtrack transports us fully to its fantasy world. Sometimes, depending on the time in which we stagnate in an area, the melody associated with the place can become repetitive, but taking into account that when we advance through the chapter we will have a new song to listen to, it is not a great inconvenience. His songs fit perfectly into the setting of the title to fully transport us to the desert moors and the coastal city that we have been able to visit. Voices
A relatively safe bet for fans of the genre
Bravely Default II is a head to toe canonical JRPG, and it doesn’t aspire to be anything else. From what we have been able to experience, the Claytechworks and Square Enix title offers dozens of hours of gameplay in which we will experience archetypal stories but with interesting twists and continuous battles against all kinds of monsters and creatures. Although it is true that it does not reinvent the formula, people who enjoy this type of experience will find in the title endearing characters and combats that give rise to the strategy and originality that each one can contribute.
His artistic style is pleasant, although we consider it too cartoon. It is out of tune with the tone of some of the plots that we have experienced, and its animations get to take us out of the story at moments that should be serious since they fully affect the characters. Instead, the soundtrack accompanies our adventures perfectly, complementing the setting of the title.
Bravely Default II will arrive on Nintendo Switch on the 26th of this month of February, and a little before you can read our Reviews in Meristation. Remember that if you want to try it for free, you can download the demo already available in the eShop of the Japanese company. Of course, keep in mind that your progress in it will not be transferred to the full game if you decide to embark on the definitive adventure.