Developer: Claytechworks/Square Enix
If you?ve been in the mood for a traditional JRPG experience on the Switch, then you should look no further than the recently released Bravely Default II from Claytechworks and Square Enix. Despite being the third entry in the Bravely Default series (confusing, I know) this is very much a new player-friendly experience. You need no working knowledge of the Bravely Default games that have come before, as Bravely Default II is a standalone story and a solid jumping-on point for this fledgling RPG series.
Bravely Default II takes place on the continent Excillant, and focuses on a 4 person party as you advance across the continent in search of 4 crystals that have either gone missing or been plundered by the various villains that make up the antagonists of the game. While a party of 4 might seem a little light compared to the sprawling casts that make up other RPG?s, Bravely Default II makes up for it by giving you a hefty number of job classes that are liberally doled out as you make your way through the game.
The job classes are also pretty varied, consisting of stalwarts like Black Mage and White Mage, with more eclectic selections like Gambler. Each party member can equip two job classes at once, which are leveled up independently and can grant a whole host of new abilities and equippable perks. These perks can be carried over with a limited number of slots for each character, so you can really customize each party member to your liking. You can absolutely break the game in a number of ways due to the job system, but for me, that?s part of the fun in seeing how absolutely ridiculous I can make my party, and I?m happy to see that Bravely Default II doesn?t shy away from allowing you to come up with some ridiculous job combinations.
Bravely Default II also features the unique battle system that?s been a staple of the series so far. While featuring a more traditional turn-based battle system, in Bravely Default you can spend extra turns ahead of time to press your advantage, allowing you to perform multiple attacks or cast multiple spells all at once. You can spend up to three turns for each party member, but will then need to wait a corresponding number of turns before that party member can act again, which is referred to by the action term ?Bravely?. Likewise, you can ?Default?, which allows you to bank additional turns while guarding, and then use the Bravely function to spend those banked turns all at once in an effort to limit your vulnerability during a long battle. It?s a neat push and pull addition to an otherwise standard battle system that helps set Bravely Default II apart from other RPG?s.
Up to this point, the Bravely Default series has been a handheld-only series, so Bravely Default II marks the first time the RPG has been released on a home console with the Switch. I?m not sure that the added console horsepower adds a lot, but this is certainly the best-looking entry in the series so far. I?m not in love with some of the character designs, they look a little plain and animate oddly in my opinion, but I do absolutely adore the city/dungeon backdrops throughout, which are just filled with details and look fantastic on a big screen. Outside of that, the game runs well either docked or in handheld mode, and I never encountered any technical issues throughout the dozens and dozens of hours spent playing.
I would absolutely recommend Bravely Default II to any RPG fan out there that?s in the market for something new, regardless of whether you have any prior experience with the series or not. It?s a really solid, charming RPG that will provide you with hours and hours of entertainment. The job system is remarkably diverse, and the battle system is just unique enough to keep it from feeling like a chore even after countless encounters. Definitely check out Bravely Default II when you get a chance, you won?t be disappointed.
Note: Nintendo provided us with a Bravely Default II Nintendo Switch code for review purposes.