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To many gamers, Final Fantasy has been on a downward slide for almost a decade. Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels failed to catch the hearts of gamers everywhere and Final Fantasy XIV was an MMO whose first iteration failed horribly. Square Enix has heard the cries of gamers who were looking for a classic, old-school Final Fantasy experience and answered with Bravely Default, a game that is Final Fantasy in everything but name.

Bravely Default takes almost all of its cues from Final Fantasy games of the past in every aspect possible. The story revolves around four crystals, a familiar Final Fantasy trope, and uses the Job system seen in games like Final Fantasy V. Items and enemies take their names and abilities from the Final Fantasy series and the game features a proper overworld complete with many forms of travel, including ship and airship. If you're a fan of any Final Fantasy from 1 to 6, stop reading this review and go buy the game: You won't be disappointed.

Still need convincing? Bravely Default's story might seem familiar at first glance to any Final Fantasy player but in the later hours, the game takes a number of twists and turns that make it stand out among its JRPG peers. The game clocks in at about 30 to 40 hours if you're attempting to get the true ending and while there is some slight repetition that sets in at the end of the game, this can be alleviated thanks to the number of customization options that Bravely Default gives you.

At any time during Bravely Default it is possible to customize the game to your tastes, including changing the difficulty level and the enemy encounter rate. In fact, it is possible to set the enemy encounter rate at zero, perfect for exploring a dungeon or just rushing straight to the boss. When you're going through a dungeon multiple times, this feature is a godsend and you'll wonder why every JRPG doesn't include some variation of this feature.


The battle system in Bravely Default is similar to old-school Final Fantasy titles as well but with one major difference: You store a turn each time you defend, letting you attack multiple times in an upcoming turn. Using this system is key to victory but beware, as your enemies can use it as well. While the normal random encounters don't require much strategy, the bosses will require you to master this system if you want to be victorious.

The Job system enables your four characters to change their roles in the group at any time, giving them new skills and passive abilities. There are over 20 jobs to choose from, ranging from your standard White Mage and Knight to esoteric choices such as Alchemist and Vampire. Completing sidequests opens up new jobs so make sure to tackle every sidequest that comes your way.

This is only scratching the surface of what Bravely Default has to offer. There is a town-building minigame, there are numerous skits you can view that give you a greater insight into each character, unlockable costumes, and near the end of the game are a mulititude of optional bosses that will put all your skills to the test. Throw in an optional endgame dungeon and two different endings to top off the experience and you have the recipe for a classic JRPG experience.


Sadly, the voice acting is not what you'd expect a game released in 2014 to sound like but luckily, you can simply turn the voice acting off and never have to listen to it. The game is written well and the characters come off as believable, though some characters, like Tiz, are not nearly as interesting as Edea or Ringabel. The music is amazing and the graphics are reminiscent of Final Fantasy III on the Nintendo DS; while they won't really impress you, they do a good job of capturing the feel of the game. Of special note are the hand-drawn watercolor backgrounds which are always a visual treat and look amazing.

Bravely Default is the game that JRPG fans have been wanting for almost a decade. It catches the classic JRPG spirit found in Super Nintendo and original PlayStation games while updating the formula to modern times with the addition of items such as enemy encounter slider. If you grew up playing JRPGs in the Super Nintendo age or you just want to experience what a real JRPG should be like, Bravely Default should be your next Nintendo 3DS purchase.

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