Bravely Default: Demo Impressions - Destructoid

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My 2014 is beginning much like my 2013 did: with a JRPG. Last year, I kicked things off by losing myself for over 40 hours in Level-5's wonderful Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. This January, I'm getting my feet wet with the demo for Silicon Studio's Bravely Default on the 3DS. 

The demo for Bravely Default, is not your typical thing. It isn't a condensed 25-minute experience that slowly fades out with a "Coming Soon, Buy Now, Get Pre-Order Bonuses" image that'll have your head spinning with consumerist delight. This demo is a robust and lengthy - as long as you don't exceed 30 startups - experience that will see some of your rewards and spoils carried over, should you end up buying the full version.

There isn't any story in Default's demo. Instead, they've opted for a side-quest approach that has your party roaming the desert and different dungeons for items in exchange for loot. It's nice that it doesn't spoil any of the narrative for those who might be in the midst of a blackout, but it isn't anything vastly engaging. If you do plan to buy the game next month (February 7) however, it provides a decent head start. 

What does keep things engaging though is the game's battle system - which is set to a killer rock theme. Bravely Default isn't just the name of the game as the two words act as the defining features for the party whilst in combat. "Brave" allows each character to stack four successive moves per turn. This can lead to an overwhelming offense and quick victory, but with tougher opponents, this means leaving yourself open for a longer period of time once you're finished, as the enemy will get four consecutive turns as well. 

The other feature, "Default," acts as a defense mechanic. By selecting it, you're character will skip their turn and brace for an attack, all the while receiving an additional turn for later in the fight. This can be extremely helpful when you need to chain together an attack or throw around some potions if you find yourself on wobbly knees.

At first, this system may not appear to be much. You'll be spamming Brave for everyone and defeating enemies quite easily - unless you stupidly go into one of the demo's two dungeons too early. Once baddies start putting a fight though, things will get interesting. You'll need to effectively plan your Braves and Defaults (ignoring it entirely will see you six feet under). This demo only gives you a small space to work with, so the system's capabilities are limited here (as grinding tends to kick in after level 10), but I can't wait to see them in the full version.

There's another addicting gameplay element, and that's the job system. You'll be able to assign any role to any character, and switch them at will. This creates for numerous combinations that will have you mixing-and-matching all night. Don't like aligning a Knight and two Black Mages with a Healer? Then switch them out for a set of Freelancers and a Ninja. Even for a demo, the combinations are plenty.

What I'm also looking forward to is the game's StreetPass feature. By walking past some sweet 3DS-carrying folks, you can populate a village that was destroyed in the full game's storyline to help rebuild it. The more villagers you have, the faster things will be rebuilt. So, needless to say, my one villager is having a hell of a time trying to build a single thing. I can't wait to work him to death after he gets a measly two structures finished before I complete the campaign.

I've only spent a few hours with Bravely Default, but I've enjoyed that brief time. I may not be able to fully utilize the game's social features, or summon friends in battle to add to the already deep system, but I found it difficult nonetheless to put the 3DS down. If you're looking for a JRPG with a deep battle system to couple a gorgeous presentation, you'll want to check out the demo for Bravely Default.

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