Everything's weird right now. The coronavirus panic is crazy right now. Everyone's trying to find a balance between how to work and live safely. It's confusing for sure. And so when it's time to settle down and relax before bed, I've found something to take my mind off of the outside world.
The Bravely series is REALLY interesting. Let's go backwards for a minute. In 2009 there was a DS game called Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes Of Light. If you never played this one, you're missing out. It's an awesome throwback JRPG that draws heavily from Final Fantasy III and V. Now, while this game was developed as a spin-off to the Final Fantasy series, my guess is that Square Enix decided to use the FF name as a means to selling more copies through name recognition. In reality, we may have well called this game Bravely Zero.
Anyway, The 4 Heroes Of Light did well enough that a sequel was started - and that sequel eventually saw the light of day under its own new title away from the FF series. That game became Bravely Default on the 3DS. I remember picking that one up at launch, and thinking it was really cool, but I got distracted by other games soon enough and never went back to it. Bummer.
The next game in the series was Bravely Second, which I'm playing now and will circle back to in a second. I didn't actually play it back then. And as it turns out, Bravely Second was more of a full game length expansion to Bravely Default than a true sequel on its own. Sort of like Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna.
Okay, this is where it gets weird. Enter the Switch era.
So I guess you could say that the next game in this loose series would be Octopath Traveler. I mean, the battle system? It is totally Bravely Default. And so are the weirdly written characters. And I LOVED Octopath Traveler. Even weirder? After all of that, Square Enix has announced that a new Bravely game is coming to Switch. It's called... Bravely Default II. Got all that?
So anyway, here we are. I'm playing Bravely Second, and thinking to myself that this series is awesome, even if it's kind of a mess. To some degree, I've played every game in this loose collective, and I've definitely enjoyed every game to some degree. That's saying a lot.
Bravely Second's story is mostly silly and tropey. But that's fine. I admit I got a chuckle out of one of the characters being straight up referred to as "one of those four heroes of light," only to comment about how pretentious that title sounds. Good stuff.
But the story is WHATEVER. I'll be honest, half the time I just skip the cut scenes. I'm playing this game for its lovely visuals, solid soundtrack, and more than anything else, it's awesome battle system. If you haven't played any of these games, it uses a turn based system in which you can choose to "brave" (or spend turns early and have to sit out that many future turns) or "default" (or sit out a current turn to stack up extra turns later). It makes for some interesting strategizing.
Likewise, the job system is really cool and makes your characters insanely customizable. Again, if you played Final Fantasy V (or Tactics) then you have a good idea of how the job system works. And you'll be leveling up your jobs independent of your characters, so again, there's a lot of variance to how your experience will play out versus mine.
So yeah, I'm having a blast with this game. And oddly, it's one of the cheapest 3DS RPG's I've picked up in recent memory. So maybe give it a spin if you need some mindless yet solid RPG'ing in your life right now.
I'm five or six hours in now, and this game is definitely captivating. I mean, it's not like the experience I had with Xenoblade Chronicles X which was just this huge epic explosion of awesome. But this feels like a pretty great modern throwback RPG. The story is kind of meh. But everything else makes up for it, mechanically.
I spent some time in a side quest last night - something I don't do a lot of in most RPG's - and leveled up considerably. I ended things at a boss fight against a red mage, which is appealing because if I beat him then I'll have the red mage job to use. That could replace either my black or white mage, opening up a slot for another job. I'm just not sure I'm leveled up enough to take this dude down right now.
It's really been a weird week. And this is a pretty weird game. In some ways it's very familiar and comforting. It's got that great 16-bit throwback vibe to it; and it really reminds me of playing Octopath Traveler, which is definitely in my top tier of Switch games. But then it's just... weird. Like, there's these alien creatures called the Ba'al and obviously the warriors tasked with killing them are called... Ba'al Busters. And they run with that joke A LOT. Oh, and pigs are warp points from village to village. And there's some kind of weird base building stuff you can do in a sub-menu that involves the moon. I don't even know.
But honestly, I tend to just kind of ignore a lot of stuff. The base building on the moon? I don't even know what's the point. The story and silly jokes? I skip about half of them anyway. I'm just enjoying the meat and potatoes. This game has an awesome battle system, and the job system is solid and makes for fun experimentation. I'm about ten hours in now.
So after twelve hours I hit Chapter 2. Out of curiosity, I looked up how many chapters there are. There are six chapters. Six! And it took me twelve hours to finish the first one. So... apparently this game is really long.
I'm having a really good time with it, though. The battle system is solid, the job system is neat. But my goodness. I really don't think I have what it takes to plow through five more chapters right now. I know I'm in the minority, but I do sometimes miss the days when a twenty hour RPG was considered long. Damn.
So yeah, this will be a good point for me to take a break from Bravely Second.