Bravely Default: Flying Fairy is the spiritual successor to the DS title 4 Heroes of Light, a 2010 JRPG that borrows upon many of the classic Final Fantasy elements in terms of theme and mechanics. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of 4 Heroes of Light for its bland rehashing of old tropes, Bravely Default is in an entirely different league as I saw a taste of it in our impressions article here. I dare say that Bravely Default is the one of the greatest portable RPG I’ve played, rich in aesthetics and gameplay alike.
Aesthetics (Story, Graphics, Sound)
The story of Bravely Default is seeped deeply in its Final Fantasy roots. The premise is pretty straightforward at the start: save the crystals that nourish the world and banish the darkness. There are a few twists and turns where conflict really comes to the foreground. The four main adventurers that form your party, Tiz, Agnes, Ringabel, and Edea, are excellent characters if not a tad too simple in their motivations and personalities; they portray their respective archetypes very well though they’re still bound by those archetypes. These are most apparent in the “Tales of”-esque side skits that can be viewed throughout the game.
The only major problem I’ve found is the voice acting, which ranges from average to awkward. Some of the characters’ voices sound as if they’re being forced and are out-of-place with their character’s personality or age. While I have only found a few instances of this few and far between, it is still something that makes the game less enjoyable as I found myself drowning out a character’s speech in exchange for just reading the text.
In terms of the art of Bravely Default, I’d describe it as beautiful, kind of like a simpler, more playful version of Final Fantasy Tactic’s art style. The various cities which you encounter as well as the costumes of their inhabitants are where the art of Bravely Default shines, as a whimsical yet complex watercolor tone.
Gameplay (Combat, Systems, Mechanics)
Bravely Default‘s main gameplay mechanic is the Brave and Default options, which adds a new, interesting spin on turn-based style combat. With this new system, the player can store, at the expense of a turn, in-battle action points and then spend them en masse to pulverize each enemy. This innovative mechanic does add an enormous amount of depth and strategy to the game, but not enough to completely revolutionize the tun-based design; if you’re expecting a whole new kind of turn-based battle, Bravely Default will deliver to an extent.
Accompanying the new Brave and Default mechanic, however, is an old standard well known to the RPG genre: an in-depth, expansive job system. The game’s massive amount of jobs and skill within those jobs (which can be mixed and matched) allows the game a refreshing level of customization that can be used to make a fine-tuned, unique party. This, along with a collection of equipment and tasks, are sure to inspire the collector and explorer for over 30+ hours.
On a side note that I feel must be mentioned, a small but greatly appreciated feature in Bravely Default is the inclusion of an overworld. Not many games feature this any more but instead either opt for a fast-travel design or an open world design. It’s a brilliant mechanic that emphasizes the vastness of the story, of the game, of the adventure. Scope is something I feel is missed on a lot of RPG’s nowadays and it’s something that Bravely Default definitely benefits from.
Bravely Default is nn extremely enjoyable JRPG that touches on all the elements that make the genre enjoyable. The aesthetics of the game could be a bit stronger, but they’re amazing nonetheless on the majority. The gameplay is what really makes the title, providing hours upon hours of RPG strategy and customizationg. Bravely Default is a must have for your 3DS collection if you’re a JRPG fan and a simple, easy starting point if you’re not.
Final Score: 9 / 10
Written and edited by Tim Atwood
Chief Editor at The Pixel Pen Review