Bravely Default 2 Review
The third game in the Bravely series, Bravely Default 2 is a return to the series for the producers after their success with Octopath Traveler. While Bravely Default was generally considered to be a good game, a specific portion in the second half of the game soured many’s experiences. While this was also the case for me, Octopath Traveler was still a fun experience overall, but I am admittedly a sucker for games with job systems. I started Bravely Default 2 with high expectations but was still pleasantly surprised at how familiar some of the systems felt.
Bravely Default 2 features the main party of four characters: Seth, Gloria, Elvis, and Adelle. These characters are a sailor, princess, scholar, and mercenary, respectively. The story begins as the party searches for the missing Crystals of Gloria’s homeland. From there, they encounter various allies and enemies connected to the central plotline. While the narrative was decent, it was also predictable at times, and often felt mechanical. By that, I mean it feels like it is following a set pattern or formula, though it does deviate from it as the game continues along. Somewhat surprisingly, the story in this RPG is not what keeps me coming back for it, but the gameplay is.
Bravely Default 2, like its predecessors, is a turn-based RPG. Aside from the main quest, the game features a variety of side quests to undertake. These quests may be simple fetch quests or have more story-related elements that include cutscenes and mini-bosses. The main component that ties these elements together is its combat system, which features the titular Brave and Default systems.
Brave vs. Default
Players can activate the Brave command to utilize up to four actions at once, or the Default command to defend and store a Brave Point for a future turn. These two commands work together and against each other when determining whether to sacrifice future turns for a chance to end encounters early. In addition to these features, which can greatly speed through small encounters, the game also allows you to speed up combat up to four times, making combat go by a lot faster.
Finally, onto the job system. Bravely Default 2 features a number of jobs for characters to utilize, some familiar to the genre, and others more unique. Characters are required to level up both their character levels as well as job levels. By leveling up various jobs, characters will learn both passive and active abilities. Active abilities will require jobs to be equipped to use the abilities, while passive abilities can be equipped whether the job is active or not. Each character can equip a main and secondary job, with the main job providing a specialty, costume, and weapon proficiency.
In short, each character can have a main job, secondary job, and passive abilities, all working in conjunction to allow player freedom in setting up their party as they see fit. Unsurprisingly, I spent more time than I had to level up various jobs in order to optimize weapon specialties, passive abilities, and more in order to keep an ideal party at all times. Later in the game, various decisions will need to be made about which jobs to keep using, and which passive abilities to equip, as there is a limit. While the story is decent and the combat features an intriguing aspect, the job system is where the game truly shines for me.
The game’s overall aesthetic is similar to its previous iterations on the Nintendo 3DS, though they are obviously improved now on the Nintendo Switch. If you look carefully, the character models are quite detailed as well. Where the game’s aesthetics shine are the environments, particularly the city locations. The cities are hand-drawn, with a pop-up picture book-like look to them. The character models and environments work well together in creating a fantasy-like feel to the game’s world in general.
As for the audio, the music blends in well with the story and environment, contributing to the various scenes and battles as well. However, the voice acting is what stands out to me. The voice acting itself is done well, but what stands out is that a lot more of the game is voiced than I had expected, with even some side quests and content being voiced. While some games have all dialogue voiced, this feels quite rare for an RPG, let alone a JRPG.
Overall, Bravely Default 2 is a solid RPG with a unique battle system and a satisfying job system. Having allowed time to pass between the first two iterations and this one, Bravely Default 2 remains a natural extension of the older games, though improved in various aspects. Without question, Bravely Default 2’s job system is the shining aspect of the game and does enough to keep my interest despite a relatively predictable story.
***Switch code was provided by the publisher***
- Fun job system
- Quality of life aspects
- Risk/reward combat
- Some bosses can be too challenging
- Some shallow side quests
- Formulaic narrative