Today we are going to take a look at this years final RPG and last major release for the Nintendo 3DS Braverly Default.
Published by Square-Enix and created by the studio famous for 3D Dot Heroes, Braverly Default is a spiritual successor to brilliant but flawed Final Fantasy: 4 Heroes of Light. After a long wait for an overseas release it's finally dropped in Europe. Can they make up for past mistakes or is this game just too brave?
Braverly Default stars Tiz, a farm boy living in the sleepy village of Norende. As usual not all is quiet for very long as the village is replaced by a giant chasm leaving Tiz all on his lonesome. He meets up with the Wind Vestal Agnes, following this you meet the loveable ladies man and Mr Amnesia himself Ringabell. Last but not least and the only member you have to fight, the fiery Edna!.
You get the entire team within the first couple of hours, this means no late comers or Arc relevant members. The setting has a real fantasy vibe about it, very close to the likes of early Final Fantasy titles. From Castle towns, to Mill towns, caves, ruins, deserts, secret havens and military bases, Braverly makes you visit all the usual RPG locations.
What sets it apart from other RPG's is the drawn art style combined with the 3D Effect. Not usually a fan of 3D but I always have it on for this, it looks like a living novel and brings so much more character to Braverly's locations.
The character art style is identical to Four Heroes, a Chibi deformed art style which makes everyone look cute and young. Usually the opposite of what they are, it's not an art direction that bothers me and it doesn't effect the game in anyway.
Monster design is the usual fare with zombies, enemy soldiers, mythical creatures and beasts. Some bosses are huge and it also features a cross over with Four Heroes in the shape of antagonist Beelzebub!.
Here we have the core, the meaty heart of Braverly Default, the gameplay. It's your RPG system, you visit a town, story furthers, occasional side quest, dungeon, boss fight, grind. What sets BD apart from others on the market is features and execution. The story is top notch with laughter, sadness and anger all abundant. Character development is grade A up there with the ranks of Persona 4 and Tales Of Symphonia.
You can cater the game to suit you, this is done by the always adjustable difficulty modifier. You can set how often random encounters happen, how tough they are & for our hardcore minimalist gamers if you get Xp or Jp for battles!.
Braverly uses the Job system, some hate it I personally love it. You assign a job to some one, for example Monk, that person will then specialise in hand to hand combat. You get Job points after every battle, you use these to level up your job unlocking more moves and bonuses, these can then be used alongside another job to create a sort of fusion!. All the usual jobs are here like Knight, Black Mage and Monk alongside some more unusual ones like Time Mage and Merchant, all have advantages and disadvantages and change how the characters look when chosen.
A new system Brave or Default. In the most basic terms it's turn management. If you Brave you can perform an extra action but you lose your next turn, you can do this up to 3 times. To Default you go into a defence like status and store a turn, once again you can do this up to 3 times. The key to Braverly Default is knowing when to Brave and when to Default, it's a brilliant system and is a lot more strategic than it first appears.
Following that we have Braverly Default, this is where regardless of turns you can unleash a barrage of actions and boost status. This is done by pressing start and select and uses SP points. These are gained by drinking SP drinks which build up over every 8 hours the game is in sleep mode, unfortunately there is also a lot of advertisement for the Microtransaction section, where you pay real currency for SP drinks.
I'm not a fan of Microtransactions and wouldn't of minded if this was only on eShop. Unfortunately you access in game, with a constant reminder on your menu screen.
There is another way to gain SP but it's a secret that the player should fine out or look for online.
You can create special moves and the more you level up jobs the more extras you can add to them. You can then send this out online and via street pass and people can summon your character, this also means you can summon them should you need a little helping hand.
Along these lines we also have the Ablink feature which allows you to link with any friends playing the game on 3DS. What this unlocks is the option to link any of your team with theirs unlocking even more job abilities.
Just because your village is gone, Tiz isn't the kinda guy to let that stop him!. He has tasked himself with the job of rebuilding it! This is done by using a map screen and choosing the villagers to work on various projects. These unlock more items in the roaming store and improve special attacks. You get more villagers by accessing the online spot pass bit and by street passing friends. Some projects take up to 99 hours but this is only with 1 villager on, you can cut this down significantly by adding more to the job. All of this is done in real time so it's always a case of having the game on sleep mode, building up SP drinks and your village.
Alongside Side Quests you also have challenges along the lines of what you would find in an MMO to accomplish gaining you items.
What we have been given here is a marvellous adventure which uses every part of the 3DS in a natural and useful way. With adjustable difficulty and many ways to make the game easier or harder it's for beginners and veterans alike, though I suspect Vets would get a little more from it.
Occasionally comes off as confused with it being separate from Final Fantasy, then it names the same items, some of the same enemies (cait sith) and even the Crystals plot device from earlier Final Fantasy games.
I'm enjoying my time with Braverly greatly and will go on the line and say that it's THE premier RPG on 3DS. With a stronger plot and better character development than that of Fire Emblem: Awakening, it truly takes the top spot for the handheld. Not only that but it's the finest JRPG I have played this year and I hope this sells well with a sequel on the way I would love this to bloom into a franchise.
Taking all into account the confusion between spin off or separate entity and the sin of Microtransactions I unfortunately can't give it a 10, but can give it close enough to and I am pleased to announce that Braverly Default is being awarded