A few years ago, the Bravely series was offered an early retirement. After the mediocre launch of Bravely Second in 2016 (title among others shunned because of its similarities with its predecessor), the praise collected with the original episode was already giving way to a little lukewarmness.
It is precisely because of the latter (which seems to have largely punished the game in Japan) that a third part took so long to appear. However, it took a handful of years for the stars to align again and the success of titles like Octopath Traveler for Square Enix to regain its glory and announce us. Bravely Default II during the Game Awards (it was in 2019).
Since the announcement made by a Tomoya Asano rather apologetic (the director comes back quite harshly on his Bravely Second experience, using it to justify the return of the original title), we had the leisure to follow this new episode, to see it mature, then to try it for the first time and share our feedback once again, and finally, the day has come: Bravely Default II is in the bins.
So, were our first impressions the right ones? Will Square Enix’s old-fashioned RPG gospel get everyone in agreement this time around or does the homage to this genre end up turning into a parody?
(Test de Bravely Default II sur Switch made from a copy provided by the publisher)
A base that does the job
It was wanted and the studio made it known very quickly, both through trailers and in the demo versions, Bravely Default II is a love letter to the J-RPGs of our childhood. Starting from such a basic premise, in form, it leaves little room for the unknown or the new.
The story is therefore that of a classic RPG in the extreme. Broadly speaking, we follow the journey of four heroes chosen by the elemental crystals in order to save the world, an obvious reminder of the genesis of the studio’s most illustrious series. The same goes for the cast which copies that of Bravely Default, the first of the name with a young man whom fate has saved, the princess of a fallen kingdom, an eccentric scholar and a temperamental mercenary. Deja vu which, however, is far from leaving an impression of warmed up.
Yes, because like the first part, if Team Asano (responsible for this episode) checked one by one the boxes of the clichés of J-RPG and heroic-fantasy (that the bestiary and the different regions will confirm moreover), we must face the facts: the magic operates. It only takes a few hours to realize that the studio has taken care of everything.
From chapter zero, all the cogs are set in motion, the world begins to take shape and our protagonists, charismatic, appear and reveal their reasons for traveling the continent and therefore for teaming up. A careful writing work that is not limited to history, loaded with political or religious sub-texts and taking very dark turns at times, far from it …
Indeed, if the main characters are well cherished, it is also the case of many NPCs who do not limit themselves to giving quests empty of interest. One of the strengths of the title is to have succeeded in organically incorporating the sub-quests and the interactions between the characters of the game. The world and the personalities of all the characters revolving around our quartet are coherent and reinforce the implication. of the player in the main quests as annexes.
One will quote for example the carriers of asterisks (often “bad”) which, as in the preceding titles, are extremely well characterized (even better since discussions make it possible sometimes to justify their misdeeds) or characters like Glenn or Groan.
Asterisk is there
While it’s natural to pay close attention to story and lore in an RPG, everyone will agree that the crux of an RPG remains its combat system. On this point, as was the case with the previous episodes, that of Bravely Default II is solid thanks to its super efficient Brave / Default system which is, once again, the cornerstone of the strategy in this title. As before, it consists of saving or mortgaging turns depending on your opponent.
Thus, when you use the Default command in combat, your character will take a defensive posture and store a turn (you can accumulate three of them in this way) while the Brave option allows you to spend additional turns to unleash up to ‘to four skills in a row. Of course, if you don’t store Attack Towers, your character will be inactive until you refund the excess Towers used, thus leaving them open to enemy attacks.
Be careful, your enemies also have the possibility to use these functions and can therefore naturally return the favor. This will be the case in particular for the bosses who, in a badly negotiated turn on your part, will not hesitate to turn your team into meat.
Finally, we cannot decently end this section without talking about jobs. What ultimately makes the series the salt is its job system. If it is not original at first glance since it suffices to beat an enemy with an asterisk to obtain a new profession, it is in fact much deeper than it seems.
Indeed, each character can accumulate two jobs simultaneously. If the main job defines the statistics and affinity of a character with the different types of weapons, he can still draw on the skills of a second profession. That said, in our opinion, depth comes more from passive skills since these, once unlocked, can be associated with any other class. Enough to shake up the 24 different trades in the game.
2/3 points before you buy the game
We have already mentioned “several strong points” in this test, but now we will approach the biggest success of the game: its pace. Bravely Default II doesn’t just repeat the formula of the first two installments, this time it has learned its lessons and offers us a journey where we simply cannot be bored. The well-written scenario and the sub-quests nested in the story and mentioned above are linked together with mastery and without downtime or almost, destroying one of the weak points of the RPGs from which Team Asano was inspired. In truth, the only way to reduce the pace is if you want to and prefer to ease off for a little exploration or if a session of grinding is necessary.
Speaking of grinding, if it’s still necessary sometimes (it’s still a retro RPG after all), many options are available to you to train your characters without spoiling the fun. The easiest way is to leave your console on standby and take advantage of an online shipping mode. The latter will allow you to pocket permanent boosts of experience or statistics (allowing you even more freedom with your squad).
You can also chain fights and do victory combos, the latter allowing you to increase your professional experience points. Finally, it is also possible to control the game with one hand as on 3DS and therefore to invest yourself at least by chaining the fights … Many methods which can also just as much break your playing experience if you take advantage of it a little too much, then caution…
Of course, a final word on the presentation won’t hurt. We recognize it, the aesthetic approach adds more charm to this software which does not lack. The sets are sumptuous, the textures of the map and the outfits are adorable and tickle the retina … Impossible not to melt for these elements which reinforce the enthusiasm of the player in his quest for asterisks (which therefore becomes more than scenario and strategic) .
However, not everything went smoothly … Bravely Default II suffers from marked lags at times and a hideous general blur. In addition, some cutscenes are just dirty (aliasing profusely, jerky animations…). That said, they are short and therefore do not ruin the playing experience. Finally, for the sound environment, thanks to a careful dubbing in both English and Japanese and the music of REVO which celebrates its triumphant return, c ‘is 20/20.
Bravely Default II is undeniably an excellent RPG. If it does not fundamentally renew its genre, the game drawing largely from Final Fantasy and previous Bravely, it remains an unmissable title for any JRPG fan. old-fashioned and a lesson in humility for all those who moan about Square Enix’s inability to “play good games”. Thanks to the different professions and the possibilities they offer, to his careful writing, to his endearing characters, but above all to his controlled pace, he makes the 80+ hours of play (to finish everything) enjoyable and it’s much more than what we ask him.
One last point. We have apparently compared it a lot to previous installments, but Bravely Default II is not a sequel, so you have absolutely no excuse not to embark on this journey. !