Content at a glance:
Spin-offs are a common occurrence in video games. Some do passably among gamers, but I’d say most don’t always have the same charm. And then we have the very few that do manage to do well. Case in point, we have the Rune Factory games for Harvest Moon. Well, it seems that another spin-off has done what most might consider difficult at best and nigh impossible at worst. And it’s done it to a well-established series of RPG games.
That game is Bravely Default.
Instead of moving up the line of numbers for the Final Fantasy games, Square Enix decided instead to bring its newest title to America in February. But does being a spin-off make this game more suitable for the discerning player? Well, we’ll see.
Bravely Default begins by bringing together four individuals who shall soon embark on a great adventure. These people are Agnes Oblige, a priestess of sorts who keeps watch over the crystal of wind, Edea Lee, an idealistic young girl who is dispatched on a mission by her homeland, Ringabel, an amnesiac who carries a mysterious diary, and Tiz Arrior, a young boy who watched his village and younger brother be swallowed up by a chasm that just opened one day.
The party soon learns that Agnes is being hunted because of her mission, which is to save the world by restoring four tainted crystals that control the four basic elements. They decide to accompany her on this quest, while each seeking answers to questions of their own.
And that only scratches the surface of this game.
If you’ve ever played any of the Final Fantasy games, you’ll have a solid idea of what to expect from Bravely Default. After all, the same company made it. You walk around the world, going from one objective to another. Along the way, you will mostly likely be attacked by enemies. Winning battles gives you EXP, which will make your characters stronger. In addition, you can also assign jobs to your characters. Battles will also gain you job points, which will help your characters advance in jobs. Undertaking sub-quests will gain you more jobs to choose from.
There are some new and welcome additions to this game as well. For instance, there’s the combat system that gives Bravely Default its name. In battle, you can opt to have your characters attack more than once (Brave) or save up points by not attacking at all (Default). You can then unleash attacks that are more devastating by stringing together combos, if you will. There is a degree of strategy to this system. In addition, you can gain help through people over Wi-Fi, allowing you to unleash powerful attacks on enemies.
And speaking of enemies, Bravely Default also allows you to turn off encounters, if you find yourself overwhelmed. That’s a real first for this kind of RPG, and it comes in mighty handy.
Fighting is still the name of the game, if you want your party to have any chance at all. You can use all kinds of weapons, ranging from swords, spears, and axes to staves, metal knuckles, or even just your bare hands. This violence is committed against both human and non-human enemies alike. We never see direct impact, though we do hear sounds of blows being delivered. This violence is bloodless however, and when characters are defeated, they either vanish or slump over. However, in some cases, it’s made pretty clear that deaths have occurred.
The dialogue can take some pretty violent turns too, with some characters commenting on how they’d like to see others bleeding. This is limited to the villains, however.
It wouldn’t be even remotely possible to have a Final Fantasy styled game without magic. In this game, both your party and enemy characters can make use of various spells, depending on the jobs held by your party. The most noted types of magic are listed as “white” or healing magic and “black” or offensive magic. These two labels are given mainly as classifications, and don’t seem to have any relation to the occult terms. For instance, most “black magic” in Bravely Default consists of elemental-type spells, like fire, ice, and lightning.
Other magical elements are the power to affect time and also enchant swords so that the effect is, essentially, the same as the “black magic” listed above.
And in true Final Fantasy form, one job allows your character to summon creatures to aid you. However, these bear little resemblance to creatures. In most cases, they seem to take the form of technological beings.
There’s also a fairy that accompanies the party.
Treated as a separate issue, Bravely Default also features a number of, sometimes troubling, spiritual issues.
In the first place, we have the four crystals that control the elements. According to Agnes, these crystals are the subject of a religion called the Crystal Orthodoxy. According to the tenants of this religion, priestesses, or vestals as they are called here, must constantly pray and align themselves to their crystals in order to maintain their power and keep the elements as they should be. This religion is also shown to incite hostility with its doubters.
The Crystal Orthodoxy isn’t the only religion seen either. There’s talk of gods and spirits worshiped by other regions. Talk of good luck charms, as well as praying to said charms is mentioned as well.
We also hear and see darker spiritual elements, such as a dark force that consumes the crystals. Certain enemies are also classified as demons. We also get a look at undead enemies, like ghosts and zombies. Some characters are called witches, but only in one case does the name seem to be aptly given. One can also use the abilities of this character after obtaining the appropriate job. In most other cases, it’s said as an insult. Some of the optional ‘mini-bosses’ also have names like Lucifer and Mammon.
In addition, we also see and hear that Ringabel’s journal details events that have not yet occurred. So, it would seem that his journal is something of a soothsayer, if you will.
There’s also talk about more than one spirit existing inside a person. One character is also referred to as a vampire, although it’s not entirely clear if he is one. Your characters can take a job called Vampire, which lets them absorb abilities from enemies.
The Dark Knight job seems to be based around the use of dark power.
A plot element involves an evil ‘god of destruction’ who intends to bring ruin to the world and a place called the Celestial Realm. His domain is also referred to as the Infernal Realm, which may or may not be this game’s version of Hell.
Mild Sexual Content
On the subject of Ringabel, we find that he’s something of a ladies’ man. He rarely opens his mouth without making some sort of lewd or suggestive remark about the two girls in the party and girls in general. For instance, he tells one girl that he would like to see her in an outfit that is full of holes, and he goes gaga over a town made up of women. He’s not the only pervert around, as other characters also make rather suggestive remarks. In one location, girls talk about their physical attributes.
And speaking of the town of only females, the whole place has something of a nightclub feel to it. Characters mention neon signs, and though we don’t see said signs, the general atmosphere implies that there’s highly adult entertainment around.
There’s also some lengthy dialogue about ‘sexy’ clothes, such as what constitutes ‘sexy.’
Scantily Clad Women
We also see outfits that do show a good deal of the female members of your party and some females in general. Outfits show off cleavage, midriff, back, and legs barely veiled by lace, with just critical parts hidden. One enemy female wears an outfit that has a high skirt that goes a bit too high, giving us with essentially a view of her long underwear. One outfit that can be worn by the females in your party is little more than a bikini. In a cut scene, we get a glimpse of Agnes’s bare back as attendants are dressing her.
Despite the laundry list of negatives, there are some positive bits to gather from Bravely Default. In the first place, Tiz becomes Agnes’s willing protector. He defends her against all sorts of attacks, both physical and verbal, offering her words of reassurance. Actually, the whole party is willing to build each other up. Edea also joins the small band largely over the immoral actions of her superiors. When one in particular is willing to commit murder, she finally draws the line, even though the game strongly implies that she could face some serious if not fatal consequences for it.
And all four are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good and for each other. There’s something to be said about that, even about someone like Ringabel. One non-player character goes above and beyond, making the ultimate sacrifice for someone else. Another character is willing to give his life for a greater cause – the entire world, and he does so. Can’t go wrong with that.
I could use a lot of words to describe Bravely Default. The first of which is ‘long.’ I have played some long, drawn-out games in my day, but this one seemed to take the cake. ‘Involving’ is another word that would apply. This game requires an unimaginable about of time and investment. I could also call this an amazing game. Rarely do games of this quality come around, at least I think so. And this game also improves upon existing Final Fantasy conventions. Not in the mood for a fight: no problem. Not sure where to go next: no need to worry.
However, there are other words that might not so flattering to Bravely Default. Now, most of the content we see does have the standard fare for a Final Fantasy game – magic crystals, spells of ‘white’ and ‘black’, and even a scantily-clad woman or two. But it seems like there’s more negatives to Bravely Default than I’ve seen in other Final Fantasy games, as you can see from the list above. So, I can’t give this game the welcoming words for the discerning Christian gamer. Too bad though, since I do think this is a title worthy to be in the collection of RPG lovers. I just can’t recommend it as heartily as I would like.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this Spotlight review are those of the reviewer (both ratings and recommendations), and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Eden Communications or the Christian Answers Network.
About this game