Overdue Review: Bravely Default 2

Credit: Bravely Default 2. Screenshot by me. A simple, yet elegant battle system is the focus of this game.

Square Enix graces us with another wonderful turn-based JRPG on the Nintendo Switch with Bravely Default 2. Releasing in 2021, it is a follow-up to a seemingly forgotten series that started in 2014 on the Nintendo 3DS. I bought a European copy of this game on sale for $45, normally $60. I played nearly 60 hours, but I don’t know if I would flip out the wallet and pay full price just yet. BD2 was a little stale in some regards. Visually, or story-wise nothing incredibly impressive, while it does have its own adorable style. What really shined was the gameplay, out of everything.

And if you like a strong turn-based battle system, you may really enjoy grinding endless hordes of enemies per sitting as you level up in yet another dungeon. There is so much grinding in this game, and I did a lot to minimize what I actually did. I learned to work with early jobs I found for my characters, and didn’t spend much time grinding a lot else. Each of the four characters can have any combination of two of the couple dozen jobs you find throughout the game. These jobs greatly influence combat, some of them in really fun or interesting ways.

The visual style of the game is cute, serves its function well and has certain cools notes, like tracks left in snow, but overall graphics are a bit boring. It feels a bit like I remember the grinding more than the bosses. Just defeating hordes of enemies to be strong enough for the next lame boss. Not to say the battles aren’t fun, they’re quite fun, just not enemies whose character shines. My favorite part of this game’s settings is the city designs. Cities are interactive watercolor paintings you move around, and they look different than the interconnecting lands or dungeons.

Credit: Bravely Default 2. Screenshot by me. Each city boasts a different setting, and I found them all visually appealing.

Bravely Default 2 is a pretty basic RPG tale. Four “Heroes of Light” join forces to reclaim four powerful elemental crystals. Every major city you visit in the world ends up hiding one of the crystals, as you work to uncover the hidden evil in each city in order to track down the crystals’ location. The four heroes each have somewhat shallow backstories. None of them are notable, although they have their charms. I thought the Fire Crystal chapter was impactful by the darkness of the story. This is such a delightful, light spirited game most the time, but there’s a few moments that are pretty brutal emotionally.

I really enjoyed the ability to play this game anytime, anywhere. I spend a lot of time just relaxing on the couch with friends, each of us on our own Switch, or device. I can enjoy conversation as I remain lightly engaged grinding away a dungeon on the game. The turn-based style doesn’t ask too much of your attention, and I appreciate games that allow you to breathe. If you want to make it through the grind quicker, you can boost the speed of the battle by up to four times at the press of a button. This was an essential feature. I only took it down to normal speed when it was time for a boss.

I never once needed a guide for this game. Everything is well laid out. As somebody who is still new to JRPGs, I appreciate a game that is so approachable. This would be a fine game to learn about the genre. I took away a couple pointers, such as not underestimating the power of mixing up jobs in games that have a similar system. There was no crazy puzzles I had to solve. The real challenge in BD2 is knowing your party. Their strengths, and their weaknesses. Then being able to play to those, or adapt with new jobs.

Credit: Bravely Default 2. Screenshot by me. Story plays out in a perhaps overly simple fashion.

As I said, I played BD2 about sixty hours. I will not be revisiting it. I have so many other amazing JRPGs lined up, or that I’ve already started. This game did not stand out enough to warrant a second trip. I’m really glad I played it once, but I’m also happy I didn’t pay full price. I think I would be a little more salty about how basic this game was if I had paid $60. There’s no way to know for sure exactly how much of that 60 hours was spent half bored in some random dungeon. The game largely failed to really grab a hold on me, but the gameplay kept me coming back all the way through.

Among various other options, each character has two abilities in combat: Brave, or Default. If they Default, they block until their next turn, and gain an extra move on their next turn. This stacks up to three. You can then, if you have the reserve turns built up, use multiple at a time by choosing “Brave.” This is a fun tightrope to walk as you work over enemies’ weaknesses. It seemed like a lot of jobs were tacked on, but late game shows that some of these jobs are indeed rather powerful. I have characters who would almost never perform certain actions, like say attacking, yet everything they can do has merit. I’m sure there is a myriad of ways to build your team that I cannot imagine.

If you have a Nintendo Switch, and are looking for a fun, approachable JRPG, I would recommend Bravely Default 2. Just don’t set your expectations too high. Remember what you’re there for, which is the gameplay, and I’m sure you will feel the same way. Absolutely worth playing, yet not worth fussing about either. Try to find a copy on sale somewhere, if you can. The unique, yet simple twist on turn-based battle system is one I hope Square Enix works with more in the future.

Credit: Bravely Default 2. Screenshots by me.

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