Bravely Default II’s reveal was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. Star Wars memes aside, many players were excited upon the hidden gem’s sequel announcement. The original Bravely Default and its sequel, Bravely Second were loved dearly by most of those who played them. They certainly weren’t the perfect games, Bravely Default fell victim to some unfortunate padding, but they were still excellent. What issues Bravely Default had, Bravely Second took it upon itself to correct. Padding was disposed of, and it still managed to be a great game. Ultimately, this Final Fantasy spin-off was one of the big stepping stones in Square Enix’s return to a higher standard of JRPG’s. As such, Bravely Default II is definitely a game to pick up this next year, but what did its predecessors do to raise hopes of this upcoming game’s greatness?
Bravely Default and Bravely Second had a lot of things going for them. An interesting story, fun characters, and a ton of world-building and lore. In the journals in both games, each item and creature you find and face has its own entry, often multiple in game pages long, with lore, tips on the encounter, and even the characters’ commentary. Of course, they had much more to it than just items and creatures, but regardless, the attention to detail was rather astounding. The world-building is very well tied into the development of the characters throughout the story, as I won’t be going into spoilers for this article, I can’t go too far into detail with many topics concerning this, but looking simply at the surface, let’s take a look at a big center point, the Crystal Orthodoxy. Considering the Crystals have a major role in the world, it is only natural that they would be central to the lives of the people, and unsurprisingly, the religion based around them is just that. It’s a part of everyday life, and the various cultures have influences upon them because of the Church, and likewise, the characters from each region reflect this. Nowhere is this more evident than the kingdom of Ancheim, where the nation is reliant on the winds of their land in order to power their industry, and when the winds stop, the people begin to suffer because of it, causing banditry, shortages, inflation, etc.
The music of Bravely Default and Bravely Second is magnificent. With tracks such as Fighting to the End, Serpent Eating the Horizon, Altair and Vega, and The Road That Leads to Heaven are excellently orchestrated. Both soundtracks as a whole have an incredible way of giving the player subtle mental cues, and, with the special move system, even has a role in battle, with the character themes acting as a time limit for the special buffs they get for using these attacks.
Speaking of the combat, one complaint found among several players of Octopath Traveler was that it could take too long, or was slow. Oddly enough, Bravely Default, as Octopath’s big brother of sorts, actually had a much faster combat system, which, when nerfed a bit, gives you Octopath’s Boost System. The Brave/Default System functioned around BP similarly, but unlike Octopath, you could make bigger moves from the get go, instead of having to do some fancy moves, to set up. In general, the Brave/Default system was generally a perfected version of Octopath’s Boost system, in both its speed, and the freedom it gave the player.
Freedom is probably the best way to describe the gameplay of Bravely Default and Bravely Second. The games had Twenty-Four and Thirty Job classes, respectively. While there were only four playable characters, they were fully customizable. You could throw any class on them, and any sub class you wanted, throw any weapons or armor you wanted to on them. You then had five skill slots for each character, passive skills, and so on. There was no worst job class, and there was no best job class. If you knew what you were doing, you could put together any number of busted team compositions. (An optional boss gauntlet showed some of these combinations off quite well) An individual class might be better than another, but never forget that these classes are never in a vacuum. They always have a plethora of options and abilities.
So, if you were a fan of Octopath or Final Fantasy, then Bravely Default II and the titles that came before it are definitely worth picking up. What comes next in the Bravely Default series certainly could be anything, but considering its past, and sibling series, it holds high potential for the future.