Bravely Default II is reminiscent of another age of fantasy role-playing games, where players find tiles to move back and forth and record random encounters to gain experience and resources before moving on to the dungeon boss. Working in a team of four, players switch jobs to access a wide variety of skills and abilities, combine them with equipment options, and create their own satisfying builds for encounters. The overall experience is a lovely trip for those looking to immerse themselves in work experimentation, exploration, and monster killing, but the ride is firmly rooted in a formula that can get boring at times.
Environments are ubiquitous in terms of quality as you tackle myriad dungeons. Some are very picturesque and unforgettable with visual presentations such as flying bats or clouds, but most of them are dreary caves, earthy expanses and lower city landscapes. Some nice lighting effects accompany some of the settings, but with a few exceptions the world is an unforgettable setting for monsters to crawl around in.
Epic signature battles at the end of each dungeon are often multi-phased affairs that can force you to put together a team designed to capitalize on their strengths and weaknesses, which can mean you step back into the background. It feels good to “solve” a boss puzzle, but it also means that you can’t rely on a single team with stacked skills to get through every encounter because you are using the wrong skills for A particular fight can be annihilated moments. The experience of pushing your way through a dungeon, collecting all of the loot, and then slaughtering the entire team in a single attack from the area boss can be humiliating (and definitely frustrating), but figuring out how to combine and assemble a team to Dealing with various challenges is also satisfactory.
Sanding is a big part of the game. So if you don’t like it, this is probably not for you. Fortunately, Bravely Default II is well aware of its nature and provides players with the tools to overcome skirmishes once your setups begin. By taking advantage of the ultra-fast combat speed and monster tidbits that allow you to tie a series of battles into one for extra rewards, you can turn hours of grinding into a much tastier pastime.
While sanding, it’s time to think about professional skills in interesting and fun ways to forge lawnmower compositions that devour the experience and loot in ridiculous amounts. For example, I loved that my basic attacks hit all enemies with additional basic attack chances with theft effects, so my crew could hit every target on the screen with every attack and rob them at the same time. By combining skills and abilities, it is no problem to gain the work experience and equipment necessary to overcome the tough battles.
The “Dungeon, Savepoint, Boss” template is easily resolved by refreshing side quests and world exploration activities that include massive overpowering rare monsters found in remote areas of the world map. There’s even a fun triple-triad-style card game that you can delve into to break the standard routine. Even so, killing tons of enemies loses its luster and feels drab from time to time, even with alternative activities. Once when I was unloading in town, I had about 80 of an ax to sell – proof of how many challengers I had put down at that farm session.
While these side activities are very welcome, you still need to be comfortable with hours of monster mashing. As I have a lot of nostalgia for old school RPG, this wasn’t a problem for me, but if you’re expecting a compelling story, interesting dialogue, or villains that don’t produce massive eyerolls, you won’t find these things here. The bad guys have some of the hottest jokes I’ve ever seen, combined with lame responses from our hero cast.
Fans of previous games may notice that the ability to turn off enemy encounters has been removed from Bravely on this outing, but don’t worry too much about that. Opponents weaker than the group will run away quickly, which means they only need to be fought if you choose to fight. This is a great way to activate your monster goodies for farming and move around areas without a single fight if your focus is on advancement.
Bravely Default II manages to deliver the very best: giving a taste of the past with an emphasis on creative class combinations, hordes of enemies, and big boss battles. Bravely Default II cleverly takes advantage of some of the old enchantments of classic grind-and-go console RPGs – but don’t expect anything further.