I Loved Bravely Default II And So Should You
The last few years have been an interesting time in my life. While I’m more immersed in video games than ever due to the nature of my work, I’ve never felt more disconnected from actually playing them. Full disclosure, my time away from the office is seldom spent playing video games anymore. Enter Bravely Default II.
Like so many who grew up in the ’90s, JRPGs are what turned gaming from a hobby into a passion. It was Final Fantasy IX that changed my opinion about games could be. No longer was it about having the highest score at the end of the round. Now it was about the story you could tell and the feelings I could experience.
Bravely Default II took me back to that way of thinking. No longer was it about the article I could write or the hot take on Twitter. Instead, Bravely Default II was simply a game I couldn’t put down for the better part of two weeks.
Way better than Bravely Second
I was a huge fan of the original game, but not Bravely Second End Layer. The second game in the series felt like a tacked-on story at the end of the original game. It felt very much like more of the same in all the wrong ways.
Bravely Default II on the other hand feels like more of the same in all the right ways.
Yes, you collect asterisks like in the original. Yes, there are four crystals you’re tasked with locating. And yes, the characters play many of the same tropes. But that’s about where it ends.
While Gloria is a princess and a little sheltered, she’s not the easily flustered Agnes Oblige. While Elvis is the goofy secondary male lead, he’s a very different person than Ringabel was. And Seth has way more personality than Tiz ever did.
Grinding feels less painful
Grinding jobs to completion was brutal in Bravely Default. And while the most recent installment definitely has some ‘grindy’ elements to it, it feels way less painful this time around. I put about 70 hours into the game and had all of my characters in the mid-level 80 range and with all jobs maxed out.
The successor to the original Bravely Default game builds on what worked and scraps some of the things that didn’t.
And it’s not just that I love JRPGs
Believe me, given my background, it would be easy to argue that I’m just a JRPG fangirl. But I promise you that’s not the case.
I wasn’t a fan of Octopath Traveller. I think Persona 5 went for about 20 hours too long. Square Enix releases for the last decade, outside of FF7: Remake have disappointed me.
But Bravely Default II hits just the right mixture of nostalgia, grind, light-heartedness, brutality, and satisfaction. While I’m always excited for an excuse to pick up my Nintendo Switch, guiding the heroes of light through their journey to recover the crystals and save the world was just what I needed in quarantine.
The good and the bad
The game also brings quality of life improvements to the genre. The removal of random encounters is great, and I want it to become the norm. Turn-based battles still work fine with the brave and default system. The job system is one of the best I’ve seen, and until the last chapter, boss fights somehow remained difficult even when I over-leveled.
Not everything is perfect, but most of my complaints are nitpicks. The ending feels a little sudden, and the side quest system is infuriating. Some of the jobs and abilities can feel a little superfluous, and they’re less easy to break than in the previous games.
We have a longstanding rule to not give games a number grade at CheckpointXP. But I cannot recommend Bravely Default II highly enough!