JRPGs in recent times certainly haven’t built their reputation atop gripping narrative delivery. As much as we’d all love to see a new Tales or Final Fantasy-like romp with an interesting script and rousing vocal performances, it sometimes feels as if the torches of compelling plot and character have been handed to the likes of Western-developed opuses such as The Last of Us. There are exceptions, of course, and when it comes to Bravely Default I’m still trying to figure out if it qualifies as one. Now, thanks to a newly released trailer, you can decide for yourself.
I want to believe there’s a nice tale behind the pretty CG sequences, and depending on your tolerance for RPG tropes, the trailer will probably sway you in one direction or the other. The game takes place in a world that has been “swallowed in darkness” as the four magical crystals that protect the land have “been corrupted.” And, as you might expect, four unlikely protagonists must “restore balance.” For me, the premise is just a teensy bit groan-inducing.
Luckily, nearly everything else about the game looks top-notch, be it the handsome art design, clever combat system, or spirited theme music. After spending some time with the demo I can already tell the game will be a blast to play, and beyond that, I finally understand what the title actually refers to. What I had assumed was an odd translation or some other inexplicable goofiness is actually a direct nod the to Bravely Default‘s turn-based fighting system. Want to boost your attack power at the expense of precious Battle Points? Tap “Brave.” Prefer to go on the defensive and store BP to be unleashed later? You’ll want to “Default.” When I finally discovered this, I felt really dumb.
Bravely Default is coming to North American 3DS’s February 7th, so regardless of fears about the story (or not), it’s probably worth picking up what may be the best 3DS game of the month. Layton will give it a run for its money, of course. My solution? Play both.