Bravely Default II is an interesting title for the Nintendo Switch. On a platform with a large library of JRPGs (that’s ever-expanding), Bravely Default II comes in with an experience that’s fresh yet surprisingly more of the same. For a sequel, or rather a sequel to a sequel, you’d think Bravely Default II would change things up. However, Square Enix chose to go through a journey that feels a bit too familiar. Don’t get me wrong, Bravely Default II is a lot of fun. The problem? It is exactly what you would expect, which depending on your position, is either a good thing or a bad thing.
Bravely Default II is perhaps the best example of the JRPG genre. Everything you come across feels familiar, like you’ve played it before in another game. Every twist in the story is something experienced before, and every power-up, item and class feels exactly like JRPGs that came before it. The characters especially feel like your typical JRPG heroes. They are charming, unwavering in their determination, outcasts and instantly likable. While on the surface this isn’t a bad thing, it’s not exactly a fresh take on the genre. There is such a thing as being too comfortable or too familiar. Bravely Default II plays like it wants its players to be in a completely familiar world where it’s easy to jump into the game. This is really nice if you’re someone looking to jump into the series wanting “more.” It really does that “more” thing quite well. Every single aspect of the game feels just like the original Bravely Default and its sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer.
The Bravely Default II combat system is one of the game’s biggest breaks from the norm. With it you can take multiple turns all at once. The catch? You have to pay those turns back (lose them) later in the battle. It adds a new tactical layer to the game as you have to juggle the risk and reward of unleashing an onslaught on your foes and hoping they don’t survive to retaliate. Or you could decide to have all your characters take a turn healing and adding buffs, hoping that the enemy doesn’t throw too much damage or any status effects for a few turns. It’s an interesting new mechanic to the game and one that really makes you think (and rethink) before you take your turn. Most regular encounters can be won in the first round by having your team use all available actions to rush the opponents. It’s nice to be able to speed through the less than interesting fights, but since you’ll be in a comfortable position for most of the game, you won’t actually need to grind much. Although doing that method might make the later bosses more difficult as you really need to grind to gain experience for your characters.
The thing about Bravely Default II is that while it isn’t a bad game, it just feels like a way too similar and way too safe sequel. You can tell while you play the game that it wants to be different than its predecessors. Occasionally, it tries to break free but ultimately falls short. None of this is, bad per se. It’s still a lot of fun to delve into the mechanics of the game and balance your offensive and defensive abilities in the heat of combat. The enemy types are varied, and the system of resistances and weaknesses means you’ll be utilising your whole team as you explore and fight. Its biggest problem is that it is just very similar to every other turn-based JRPG you’ve played.
Bravely Default II makes you feel too comfortable, from its very 3DS-inspired design, its beautiful music, and storytelling, to the combat and deep mechanics you’d expected from the game. You can spend hours traveling through the world, grinding away and having a great time doing it. You can experiment with the combat and class system and have a lot of fun building the perfect team. In the end, you won’t feel like you’ve experienced anything new. If that is what you’re looking for, more Bravely Default, then Bravely Default II is your game. While there is a lot of fun to be had with the game, players that were hoping for something fresh and new will come away feeling disappointed. Bravely Default II is a fun game, but for longtime series fans and JRPG fans overall, it is a forgettable experience.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 26th February 2021
Gaming Respawn’s copy of Bravely Default II was provided by the publisher.