Bravely Default II is a role-playing video game with all the classic Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) and Final Fantasy mechanics and gameplay mashed up into one. It is the third game of the Bravely series, but while Bravely Default and Bravely Second: End Layer are both connected and exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS, Bravely Default II contains its own separate story and is only available on the Nintendo Switch. Despite the fact that Bravely Default II is different from the rest, it still features the same kind of turn-based battles and brave default system that will look familiar to those who are already interested in the series.
Where Bravely Default II Begins
The game’s story follows four adventurers traveling together: Elvis, an apprentice of a famous mage; Adelle, a mercenary searching for her sister; Gloria, a princess who lost her home; and Seth, a castaway sailor. One by one, each of them becomes a hero of light and saves their land from a great evil.
The region in which they journey is called Excillant, which is divided into five kingdoms, each with different ecosystems and cultures. In those kingdoms lay crystals that thieves stole from Gloria’s kingdom. The crystals hold the power of the four elements: wind, water, earth and fire. Each crystal picks the warriors to become heroes of light. At the same time, Elvis is trying to decode an ancient book he carries. Every time it comes into contact with a small gem called an Asterisk, secrets are revealed.
There are two points of view regarding the quality of Bravely Default II: that of a veteran fan of the Bravely series and that of a newcomer. Returning fans could very likely tell you how the story will go from beginning to end; the story is very predictable at points, and the tale may use the Bravely series’s formula too much at times, but not all of it is bad. Some twists are surprising, and thanks to the characters, you can find something new to poke at.
As for newcomers, you will be jumping at the edge of your seat as to what will happen next. Moreover, the story is very dark, and when it comes to the Bravely series, it will always find a way to involve you. There are so many places to explore and opportunities to strategize, so you’ll be able to have fun with this classic edition.
Entering the World of Excillant
Speaking of exploring, the one thing that the Bravely series always does right is the locations. The backgrounds are beautifully painted, and you get to travel through the artwork with awe and delight. Every kingdom is distinct from the other; you can quickly tell where you are, and you can see the story’s effects on the surrounding world, such as when the desert kingdom begins to be swallowed up by water. Once you are out of the domains and travel through the land, you are in the classic Final Fantasy setting where your character is enormous while the ecosystems are tiny. When you are just exploring, it is quite calming to listen to the music as day passes into night.
Time to Brave and Default
The gameplay is the same as in the previous games but with a fresh update. The brave/default system is back, where you can choose to “brave” — give yourself an extra turn — or “default” — save a turn and guard yourself. Some meters help you show whose turn it will be next. There are also items, weapons, armors and accessories for your characters to buy outside of battles. Once you buy items, you have to think of what weapon and armor you want your character to use and what their stats are. By far, this is the most complex system of character building in the series, and it can be either enjoyable or tedious depending on your patience and strategy. There is even a weight limit that requires you to think more carefully about your options.
Another old mechanic allows you to take a boss character’s job after you defeat them. There are different kinds of classes in each game, ranging from a white mage and a monk to a Patissier and a Catmancer. All of them have distinct stats and skills. The jobs in Bravely Default II are not as strange as Bravely Second, but they are still fetching, as are all their outfits. I personally love the bard, ranger and red mage outfits the most. It does not make any sense to be wearing their outfits on the battlefield, but you will have the highest fashion quality.
The dialogue in the game’s side quests is nothing essential, but some are funny or relatable. However, some side quests end up being tedious. A quest like “A Long Lunch,” with the goal “Person A wants you to deliver the item or talk to Person B,” sounds fine until you walk for 10 minutes to arrive at a dungeon, talk to Person B and backtrack three or four times until you finally complete the quest. Another subpar aspect of the game is the grinding sessions; depending on the difficulty you set and how confident you are, you are either grinding for hours or never grinding at all. There are guides and videos online on how to gain stat points fast, but as with all JRPGs, which all have some form of grinding, it is still a pain regardless.
After all that gaming, you fight for hours, beat a boss and are ready to close the game. However, you can put your Nintendo Switch on Sleep Mode and get rare items without having to do anything. That is where the Boat Exploration feature comes in. At the beginning of the game, you are given access to a boat you can use to get items while your Nintendo Switch is sleeping. Leaving the Nintendo Switch alone for hours can earn you so many items to help you out when you need to increase your characters’ experience or job points.
Same Party, New Faces
In each kingdom, the four adventurers have an arc centered around them or a character they are close with. Seth, Gloria, Elvis and Adelle all shine and become endearing characters to root for. Despite being the default player, Seth imprints his own personality on the character. Unlike Tiz, Bravely Default’s previous main character, he finds his own path and eventually achieves his goal to protect Gloria. Seth has stories from his days as a sailor, exhibits a bit of a temper and is protective of his friends. He’s not the philosophical protagonist generations will praise on end, but he’s a decent guy for this story.
Gloria is almost the complete opposite of Agnes, another previous main character. She is almost always brimming with confidence and elegance while keeping a cool head. When the group of heroes ends up being caught and taken to jail, she holds her head up high and waltzes to the jail without an escort. Gloria is a great protagonist who can lead with grace and prowess.
Elvis is the joke character, but he is so much more than that. He is a great pal who you have to love, especially with his carefree attitude and happy-go-lucky personality. But he’s not just a one-time gag; he does get serious, and he even has taste despite acting boorish at times. If you spot him in town, grab some drinks, and you’re in for the party of your life. (Just keep the drinking to a minimum; he drinks far too much.)
Throughout the story, Adelle exhibits curiosity for new things and a temper of her own, but she mainly seems like the character who keeps Elvis out of trouble. But mid-game, she finally spreads her wings and gets the spunk that she searched for all this time. It is hard to say anything about her that does not reveal a spoiler, but, she’s an admirable woman who would sacrifice her secrets for her friends and does not have feelings for Elvis.
All together, this party shares a harmonious friendship; they all can click with each other and even have small events. They have a great dynamic, and as the story continues, they end up being able to bond. Everyone’s acting skills are outstanding, too — the cast shows off a diverse set of languages and accents, and some are particularly enjoyable, like Elvis’ Scottish accent.
Is Bravely Default II one of the best JRPGs?
Bravely Default II is a great game, but there are far superior JRPGs. However, it is worth your time and money, and even though it is not the best, it offers so much. The gameplay, characters and music are all top-notch, and if you are still not convinced, you have the option to try out the demo and see if it is to your liking. Bravely Default II is a game that looks great on the shelf and plays amazingly as well.