Not Just Final Fantasy with a Weird Name
Luxendarc, the world of Square Enix's latest portable RPG, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, has become a pretty grim place. The elements are off kilter, with the ocean raging and the wind ceasing to blow, and darkness is beginning to appear. This leads Agnes Oblige, priestess of the wind crystal, to set out to find the cause of it all. Before long, she is joined in her quest by the sole survivor of a great disaster, a former soldier, and an amnesiac with a book that can predict the future. It is these encounters that will lead the four on an adventure much greater than any of them could have expected.
At first glance, it's easy to think that Bravely Default is little more than a Final Fantasy game without "Final Fantasy" in the name. That's pretty accurate to a point, given the game was originally intended to be the sequel to 2009's Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, and that it does incorporate many elements that have become ubiquitous to the series (crystals, grand quests, jobs, and such). However, it would be a mistake to think that it doesn't bring anything new to the table. It does, and RPG fans should be interested.
The most notable feature unique to Bravely Default lies in its turn-based combat system. In battle, players can make use of the "Brave" and "Default" options, which controls the use of "Brave Points" that are depleted whenever an attack or spell of any kind is used, enabling characters to attack multiple times in one turn. The way it works, players can either use the Default option to skip a character's turn to build up points, or unleash multiple attacks anyway at the cost of being defenseless for the next few turns. Adding a whole new layer to proceedings is the fact that enemies can also store up and use Brave Points, leading to intense battles where the right usage of Brave Points can mean the difference between quick victory and sudden defeat.
These battles can get even more varied thanks to the game's Final Fantasy III-esque job system. Up to 24 different jobs can be unlocked throughout the adventure, ranging from iconic classes like Knight and White Mage to more obscure ones like Merchant and Superstar. Players can upgrade these further through combat, unlocking powerful skills. What's more, you can equip a secondary job to each character, allowing them to access the skills they've learned with that job, even when they are under a different one, and making for a large number of skill combinations for players to experiment with.
Included with these new tweaks on classic FF-style gameplay tropes are plenty of interesting wireless features, such as the ability to summon people on a 3DS friends list to perform an attack. One can also record an attack themselves for their friends to summon.
The most notable wireless feature in Bravely Default: Flying Fairy, however, is a little bonus mode where you use StreetPass to gather up citizens to rebuild and repopulate a destroyed village. The village is constantly in repair, and by collecting more and more citizens, the process is sped up. These citizens can then be assigned to the different shops that emerge, leveling them up in real time. This, in turn, will lead to the unlocking of special items for use in the main game.
All of this –the gameplay, the story, everything– comes wrapped in some the nicest visuals to grace the 3DS. Take a look at the screenshots. They're breathtaking, really, especially the towns and locations, many of which are presented via lovely, pre-rendered backgrounds that also incorporate 3D elements. Complementing the scenery are the characters, with creative hero and villain designs courtesy of Final Fantasy Tactics character designer Akihiko Yoshida. Games like Resident Evil: Revelations show what the 3DS's tech is capable of visually, but Bravely Default: Flying Fairy takes it to an artistic level that few have yet reached.
Bravely Default: Flying Fairy launched back in October 2012 in Japan, and so far there's been no word of it being released elsewhere. It's possible that the game may not be launched abroad, which would be a total shame. With its beautifully-crafted world, intriguing wireless features, and a familiar-yet-rather-different battle system, this looks like a game that could easily capture the hearts of RPG lovers, those who can enjoy RPGs, and those looking for a good adventure were it released in The West.
Is it possible we'll see Bravely Default expand beyond Japan? Possibly. Is it likely? Can't say. Only time will tell if Square Enix decides to grace the rest of the world with this game. I certainly hope they do, because this one looks like a winner.
A writer, journalist, and aspiring storyteller, Peter Grimm has been gaming since the days of the Nintendo 64, and reporting on the goings-on in the World of Gaming since late 2011. His base of writing operations is located within the void between Here and There, or so he would have you think.
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