10 Thoughts On… Bravely Default Demo (Nintendo 3DS)

When Bravely Default was first announced for Japan, the biggest question on everyone’s mind was “what is with that title?” Following that, the second biggest question was “when is this getting localized?” After all, a game with such a heavy Final Fantasy influence (particularly The 4 Heroes of Light) would surely get a western release. Yet, even after the game’s 2012 Japanese release, little was heard from Square Enix as to the game’s fate outside its home country. It wasn’t until an enhanced version, For The Sequel, was underway that any sort of official confirmation saw the light of day. And the best part is, that’s the version we’re getting!

Now that a demo has finally hit the eShop, let’s see if it’s worth the hype:

1. Let me just get this out of the way now: this is basically a Final Fantasy game in the traditional sense. Everything from the items (Phoenix Downs) to the spells (Cure, Cura, etc) and the jobs (White Mage, Black Mage, Red Mage) are all ripped right out of the main series, though it mirrors closely to FFV or any of the turn-based titles released on the DS.

2. The demo acts as sort of a prologue to the main game in the same way that Prologus did prior to when Dissidia 012 came out. So as far as I’m aware, none of the quests you do in the demo exist in the main game, though spending the hours that you do with it will unlock items and other content when the actual game comes out.

3. Combat is a standard turn based affair, with your four party members and the opposing monsters staring each other down from opposite sides of the battlefield. Each turn costs 1 BP, or Brave Point, and if you set your characters as Default, they will defend and store that turn’s BP. You can then set them to Brave on the following turn and use the stored BP one after another in order to attack twice, dispel your party, or any other action that you would need your team to perform multiples of.

4. There’s also a heavy emphasis on StreetPass, and the town building element seems to build on that. People you StreetPass with can be designated as friends, and you can send items and attacks back and forth (or so I understand it, I never got to try). Building your town also requires a certain amount of time, depending on how many people you have working on it. From the start, I only had one (myself), and it takes my character two hours in order to clear a road. Any StreetPasses I get cut that in half, so it’s in your best interest to know people who have the game.

5. Nearly every quest in the demo is some form of fetch quest, be it bringing X amount of pelts back or being sent off to go kill Y. My understanding is that the actual game is not representative of this formula, which is why I don’t understand the reasons behind the demo being designed this way. I appreciate getting different content from the retail version, but if I’m exposed to nothing but MMO style fetch questing and don’t like that facet of RPG’s, how would this encourage me to buy the game? Regardless, I played up until the point where I needed my town to build a weapon shop with good enough weapons to take down a beast with high defense. My lack of StreetPasses shut my enthusiasm down for pursuing that quest, so again, we’ll see how the retail copy handles the importance of the town building.

6. The job system is very reminiscent of Final Fantasy V, namely the fact that any skills you learn with one job can be used in conjunction with another down the road. You’ll also learn passive abilities when your job level reaches a certain point that can be carried over as well, such as countering attacks or mitigating damage. There are only a handful of jobs unlocked in the demo, but there appears to be many more, and I look forward to the experimentation.

7. The demo also wasn’t very clear in explaining Bravely Default‘s mechanics. It dishes out information piecemeal throughout the experience, but the instructions seem to come at random times, such as after a quest, and not in the context of when they’ll be useful. The battle system isn’t so complex that I couldn’t figure it out on my own, but when the first thing I want to do when I gain control of my party is customize them, the explanation of how the job system works shouldn’t come late in my session.

8. Bravely Default has a day/night cycle as you wander around the world map, a fact that becomes obvious when some of the quests task you to defeat enemies that only come out at certain times of the day. I’m not sure of any perceived benefits of battling during one or the other, aside from looking for a particular beast, but at least it bears noting.

9. Your menu comes equipped with its own fairy companion on the bottom screen, which I suppose is fitting given that the original subtitle was Flying Fairy. It serves as a constant reminder of what your current quest is, and will even make suggestions as to where you should be looking to complete it.

10. While it has nothing to do with the demo specifically, Bravely Default will be getting a collector’s edition that comes loaded with thirty four AR cards, a CD soundtrack, an art book, and of course, the game. I’m really enjoying the music so far, so the soundtrack alone seems worth it to me for that package.

It seems like an odd concept, but despite the meh demo, I’m more excited than ever to pick up the final game. The potential is certainly there for an awesome experience, and I’m already loving what I’m seeing of the job system. If you’re afraid that what I went through might sour the experience, do yourself a favor and just skip the demo and go right to retail.

Bravely Default releases on February 7th for the Nintendo 3DS.

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