Bravely Default: innovating tradition


Some say that tradition and innovation are polar opposites, but after a few hours of Bravely Default, I disagree. After reading Murf’s interesting review of Bravely Default, I became intrigued by the JRPG for the 3DS. The reason why Bravely Default didn’t blip up on my radar earlier was because, in general, JRPG’s are just not my thing anymore. Sure, Final Fantasy VII is one of my all-time favorite games and I was one of the few people who enjoyed The Legend of Dragoon, but nowadays, I just can’t be arsed by the grindy, unnecessary long formula employed by that genre. However, Murf’s comments about the quality-of-life features in Bravely Default got me, and a visit to my friendly local gaming store later, I was helping Tiz and his friends saving the world.

Being barely five hours into it, I don’t feel authorized to write a review. Instead, I want to use this post to share my opinion about something that this game does really, really well: bringing innovation to something as steeped in tradition as the JRPG genre. Instead of throwing all the tropes out of the window, Bravely Default decides to go another road, offering players many options to customize the gaming experience.

It’s nothing big, to be honest, but it has an impact on the game. Getting bothered by too many random encounters while exploring a dungeon? Lower the frequency or hell, disable them! Feeling like the combat animations take too much time? Fast forward the hell out of them! It’s simple options like these that already take away a lot of the frustration JRPG’s can cause, without eliminating any of the charisma of the genre.

Bravely Default tries to continue this innovative thought through some other features. Your friends can send you powerful moves and help you rebuilding your hometown, using the StreetPass and Internet functionalities of the 3DS. While being nice features, they feel like they were an afterthought to somehow utilize the full capabilities of the console. Even though they integrate well into the rest of the game, they can’t outshine the smaller features mentioned above.

It’s funny how a few sliders and options can make a difference, even getting me as crazy as to giving a JRPG a chance. Bravely Default succeeds in bringing innovation without breaking with tradition, providing you with a charming story for your 3DS. After all, tradition and innovation can work together. You just gotta do it right!

One comment

  1. You’re right, it really is incredible how much a difference it makes. I think the big problem is that those JRPGs that aim to be traditional, tend to want to appeal to us as if we hadn’t aged at all since we loved games like the older Final Fantasys. They imagine us existing in a time lock, never growing up or maturing.

    Heck, sometimes I wonder if they thought I had been mastering the genre for the last decade, and that’s why they feel the need to throw so much bloat and useless difficulty at me.

    Bravely Default just feels different while still feeling largely the same.

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