With Bravely Default 2, the Claytechworks development team is sending their – confusingly – third love hymn to the Final Fantasy series. Fortunately, prior knowledge of the other games is not necessary. As usual with its predecessors, the Japanese RPG makes generous use of the great Final Fantasy model: skills, spells, classes, weapons and opponents are often borrowed directly from the popular template. Turn-based fights are also the order of the day. However, copying in no way stands in the way of fun or original ideas – the title also offers both.

To address the proverbial elephant in the room directly: Bravely Default 2 has a childlike graphic style. This will probably put off some players, but the fact is: Behind the cute facade hides a tricky and brutal story. As a hero, whom we call ourselves, we wake up washed up on a beach.

Soon afterwards we meet our new comrades who will be with us for the whole adventure. The buddies have their very own motivations for embarking on the journey. Which is only revealed slowly in the course of the game. We quickly realize that the disaster that unhooked the sea was caused by one of four magical crystals. Of course, many people strive for the powerful objects, which is why we go in search of the crystals with our new acquaintances in order to prevent their powers from being used for evil purposes.







Bravely Default 2: Our test explains why the JRPG is a masterpiece (2)



Bravely Default 2: Our test explains why the JRPG is a masterpiece (2)

Source: PC Games




In the prologue, Bravely Default 2 still looks predictable and like standard roleplaying food, but as soon as we enter the first foreign cities after the start, the story really picks up speed. The different crystals of the elements fire, earth, water and wind were distributed in several kingdoms and cause a lot of turmoil there. Because like the sea, which was affected by the influence of the water crystal, nature changes around the different realms! Of course, it's not just the honorable characters in the game world who target the magic crystals, but mainly the power-obsessed villains. They ruthlessly use all means to get their hands on the powers of nature. Intrigues are spun within the cities that arouse strong Game of Thrones memories in us: Murder, fraud and high treason always knock on the door, whereby it is never obvious what the next steps of the cunning evildoers exactly are and who is going to open them which side is.







We meet our schnitzel-obsessed monster friend named Truff again and again. It's also part of a very interesting side quest.



We meet our schnitzel-obsessed monster friend named Truff again and again. It's also part of a very interesting side quest.

Source: PC Games




So the chibi graphic style stands in direct contrast to the adult narrative, but sometimes also gets in the way of the seriousness of the game. In some rousing scenes we asked ourselves: "How would that look in less cute graphics?" Although you can take the story seriously, the design still has a bland aftertaste. After all, the character models are beautifully designed and surprisingly rich in detail. In addition, the English setting adds a lot to the tension, because all characters are wonderfully synchronized and have different dialects, depending on where they come from. On top of that, figures from the nobility speak clearly differently than ordinary citizens. If you want, you can also listen to the voice output in Japanese.







Depending on the job, the characters in the party have different special abilities. Using these talents effectively in battle is the key to victory!



Depending on the job, the characters in the party have different special abilities. Using these talents effectively in battle is the key to victory!

Source: PC Games




In addition to the interesting main story, there are also side quests. These range from trivial "kill five wolves" tasks or "talk to five different NPCs" running quests to interesting little missions that reveal more about the game world. Most of the little adventures can be done on the side during the main story. Unfortunately, you never know in advance whether you will get an exciting insight into the background, or whether you will just be thrown a stupid MMORPG hard work at your feet.







This little girl looks cute at first, but the situation changes as we get to know her better ...



This little girl looks cute at first, but the situation changes as we get to know her better …

Source: PC Games




Like some other facets of the title, the battles in Bravely Default 2 are reminiscent of the Final Fantasy series and other classic RPGs from the land of the rising sun. Disputes take place exclusively on a turn-based basis. However, the first part of Bravely Default provided a breath of fresh air, because as the name suggests, there are the combat commands "Brave" and "Default". Similar to Octopath Traveler, Brave lets us sacrifice future rounds to instantly use multiple skills on one turn. Default, on the other hand, is often used for defense: Here we have an additional command available during our next turn with the selected character. This creates tactical depth, because we always have to carefully weigh up whether it is worth the risk of putting all available rounds into an attack, or whether we prefer to prolong the fight in order to get through the encounter safely. The opponents also use this well thought-out mechanism, so we should always keep an eye on their available commands.







The dungeons are often very nicely designed, but exploring can feel repetitive in the long run.



The dungeons are often very nicely designed, but exploring can feel repetitive in the long run.

Source: PC Games




The enemy's weaknesses are just as important. If we ignore and take advantage of this, we very quickly end up at the game-over-screen, because the level of difficulty should not be underestimated, even at a medium level, the saying "Better safe than sorry" clearly applies. Another key element are the jobs of fellow campaigners: In the course of the game we unlock a great many of them, they provide various bonuses and specializations. Defense, physical and magical attacks, we have to pay attention to all these aspects in the group constellation. To do this, we can level up the different classes, which unlocks passive and active skills. Active skills can be used as soon as one of our characters chooses the appropriate job, passive skills can always be equipped after they have been unlocked. If we want to fully optimize our troop, we should think about which character takes on which role, and which passive skills best suit him.







The crystals are powerful objects. We want to get our hands on them.



The crystals are powerful objects. We want to get our hands on them.

Source: PC Games




What on the one hand brings refreshing depth to the classic system can, on the other hand, degenerate into a grind festival, as jobs have to be leveled before they become useful. The difficulty level mentioned earlier also adds to the amount of time we need to plan to keep up with enemies and bosses. What is helpful, now practically industry standard, but no less gratifying: We no longer have to fear a chance encounter at every step. All enemies are clearly recognizable on the upper world, with which we can choose when we want to fight. Even if we should usually take every experience point we can get with us
.

While we wander around the map, we not only find normal monsters, but also treasure chests, dungeons and other NPCs. And there is grass! Lots of grass just waiting to be cut with our sword. While it is really satisfying to find a useful item or money in a tuft of grass, being a combine harvester quickly becomes annoying when we are surrounded by lawns everywhere. But you don't want to miss useful items either – this sometimes makes us feel as if we gave our hero the job of "gardener", which can get in the way of actually exploring the world.

Cheap Final Fantasy or an original homage?







Only some of the key story moments are staged as cutscenes. Often times, conversations convey the action instead.



Only some of the key story moments are staged as cutscenes. Often times, conversations convey the action instead.

Source: PC Games




Yes, the whole Bravely Default series is obviously based on the genre heavyweight Final Fantasy, sometimes obviously, sometimes more subtle. The plot around mighty crystals is known from the obvious source of inspiration, there are also some optional opponents in Bravely Default 2, whom we can only turn off the lights with perfect preparation. However, the Switch-JRPG has its own identity and is more than just a clone. The medieval background music not only sounds unique, but is also always suitable for the respective events. The game never looks like a cheap copy, but rather as if it came from an alternate reality in which a Final Fantasy never turned in the action-RPG direction.

In addition, Bravely Default 2 does not shy away from incorporating your own and new ideas into gameplay and story. In short: the adventure doesn't have to hide behind the template and looks like a love letter to a bygone era. If you miss classic games from the FF series and want to stock up on modern nostalgia or are simply a fan of JRPGs, you should definitely give the Chibi world of Bravely Default 2 a chance. Because with the 50 to 60 hours that we spend alone in the main story, we get a lot of first-class RPG food.

My opinion

Reminds of the JRPGs I used to inhale, but also has fresh ideas

Meanwhile, the classic JRPG principle is often too boring for me, action role-playing games are more fun for me. However, the Bravely Default range manages to bring a breath of fresh air to the old formula. The preparation and optimization of the characters are extremely motivating, while the turn-based battles gain additional tactical depth through the eponymous “Bravely Default” system. In addition, the story is grown up, brutally and interestingly packaged, which you can't tell from the sweet style. But at least for me, this look means that I just can't take some scenes as seriously as they are meant to be. The grinding doesn't particularly bother me personally, as you can quickly knock down waves of opponents if you are well prepared, but I can imagine that this is too much of a good thing for some players. Anyone who sees themselves as a fan of classic role-playing games should have played Bravely Default 2 and overlook the cute graphic style in order to experience the wonderful story and the sophisticated combat system!

Fun battle system
Adult story
Nice and suitable background music
Good setting
Sophisticated job system
Detailed, pretty graphics …
… which looks a bit too cute in serious moments
Too much grinding

Bravely Default 2 successfully expands the Final Fantasy formula with its own ideas.

Bravely Default 2: Our test explains why the JRPG is a masterpiece (1) (Source: Square Enix)

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