Bravely Default II review: A love-letter to old-school RPGs

Claytechworks /

Title: Bravely Default II
Developer: Claytechworks
Publishers: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Release Date: February 26, 2021

This one was tough. I’ve done many reviews but few as tough as this. Why? Because Bravely Default II is absolutely unforgiving.

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the Bravely Default series, despite the title, no, it’s not about people who brag about not having tattoos. The Bravely Default series is an RPG series by Square Enix with an old-school, turn-based RPG approach to combat and gameplay and a heavy focus on a job system. In addition, the Bravely series has a “Brave” system in which you can essentially sacrifice future turns in order to make multiple moves in one turn. This might not seem like something you’d want to do but it pays off in different situations.

Cannon fodder enemies encountered on the main map can be taken out in a single turn simply by having each of your teammates hitting three or four times each. If a boss has let their defenses down, it may be time to go all in.

Despite the new ideas the game introduces, make no mistake, this game moves at a very old-school RPG pace. This is not a game for someone looking to play a little bit at a time or for someone looking to tear through it.

Case in point, I Game Over’d twice against a bard — A BARD. A bard killed me twice. The sound of music hasn’t hit that hard since the 1960s. But it was mostly my fault because I had torn through a lot of this game without grinding enough. Let that be the first piece of advice I give you when it comes to this game — grind. I’m not talking a little grind, I’m talking late 90’s MTV Spring Break level of grinding.

As you progress through the game and unlock more jobs, you can assign a main job and a sub job. Main jobs level up and provide you with more abilities whereas sub jobs allow you to take the skills you’ve learned in one job and combine them with what you’ve equipped. For the love of everything though, max out Freelancer before you do anything else. Doing so will allow you to gain job points quicker. Just…please.

The mechanics of the game itself are pretty fun, although I wish there was a way to change jobs mid-battle like in Final Fantasy X-2. There are so many different job classes in the game that the variety is still fun to play with. Though, do not be fooled, while anyone can have any job it doesn’t mean they should. Your characters have base stats that make them fairly well suited for any job. Your characters do a pretty good job of letting you know who should get what though as they pretty much match personalities. You know who should be casting spells, who should be stabby, who should be healing, they make it pretty clear.

Bravely Default II
Claytechworks /

All-in-all, this game is a real throwback to the older Final Fantasy games despite how many new things they try to throw in.

There is a princess, an outsider hero, and if you encounter a royal visier, of COURSE, you’re going to be fighting them. All the classic story points are here. You need to go after four crystals based on the four elements and I don’t even need to tell you what they are because you know already.

The female lead? I hate to break this to you, but guess who’s stats are the best for a healer. Oops, you knew already? And despite the attention to detail given to the enemies, and the fact you can see them roaming around the landscape (there are mostly no random encounters), once you engage them in battle they line up like the cast of Hamilton about to break into dance.

Bravely Default II
Claytechworks /

It’s a solid game, don’t get me wrong, but it is absolutely not for everyone. Despite Bravely Default II offering a ton of jobs and giving you what feels like a lot of freedom, you have to do things by the numbers if you want to get through. You will almost always need a tank, a healer, a spell caster and someone to exploit weaknesses. The game does not give you a lot of time to get a lot of the newer classes to a useful point until you accept that you need to be willing to grind until polished.

If this is the sort of thing you’re looking for, Bravely Default II absolutely delivers. As for me, I’m going to go outside and continue punching the dirt while sobbing about losing to a bard twice…on easy.

7. Bravely Default II ticks off all boxes for people looking for an old school, turn-based RPG experience but at the same time makes it very difficult for the casual gamer to enjoy it. Even if you get a hang of the gameplay, the story is such a remarkable slog, and the dialogue delivered at such a slow pace that it could easily replace melatonin as my go-to sleep aid. If you’re here for this sort of game, they do wonderfully with their dedication to the job system and the enemy design, and even if it’s not necessarily my jam, I can absolutely respect the work and effort put into this.. Claytechworks. . Bravely Default II

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.