For those of you who haven't played it, Bravely Default is pretty much Final Fantasy with some minor changes. The story revolves around a religion based off of the 4 crystals housed in temples. When the world starts going out of whack, Agnes, who has the power to use prayer to manipulate the crystals, is told by her fairy to pray to each one to restore balance. On the other hand, you have the Knights of the Eternian Sky who don't believe the crystals should be manipulated and try, quite violently, to stop Agnes and the rest of your party.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
There are many features within Bravely Default that I was captivated by. Firstly, you can fast forward battle animations. Any consistent RPG player knows that farming or grinding can be a drag simply because battle can take so much time, even for battling enemies lower than you, simply because the animations take a certain amount of time to complete. There are actually two fast forward modes, fast and super fast.
Another thing I really liked that helped with farming and grinding was two items that you would come across later. One allows you to receive no money but receive a huge boost exp and job exp, while the other did the opposite, sacrificing exp and job exp for a bonus to money gained. Pairing that with Auto Battle mode repeats all selections you made the turn before, and you can take out grunts in no time while reaping the rewards.
Battle on its own was really enjoyable as well. In battles against higher health enemies, there's a bit of strategy that makes the battle fun. With the plethora of active and passive abilities available to you, you can mix and match to make devastating combinations.
Some of the features of the game are great, but there's also a downside so distinct that it ruins it. For example, there are 24 jobs in the game, each with its own unique play style, active/passive abilities, and weapon/armor proficiencies. Although this adds a number of choices, many of these jobs are very situational. Some offer great abilities only when combined with other jobs. Some are okay for farming, but against a boss, they really aren't necessary. This also leads to certain combinations that are good in all situations, which rules out needing to play other jobs at all.
There's lots of voiced and scripted dialogue in the game that helps with story development. Some of it offers comic relief. However, some of the party chat events are just random, and there's so many of them. It got to the point where I would just start skimming because I became fatigued by them.
The street pass aspects were cool for a few days but quickly fell off. First, you have the ability to send a move to the people that you street pass and then they are able to summon your character and have them perform that move in battle. Sounds awesome when you're in a bind, but since there's nothing urging you to do it, most people don't send a powerful move, just the default potion. Also, once you use a person's move, you can't use it again until they send it again, and because there's nothing in game to remind you, it usually doesn't happen.
There's also Norende village. In this mode there are buildings that can be built and upgraded, but it takes hours to do so. Building and upgrading allows you to buy certain items. The more you street pass, the more NPCs you get, which in turn lowers building time. After a while, you'll have enough villagers to build everything really fast. For me, personally, before I entered Chapter 3, my village was pretty much done and I had no use for this mode anymore. Also, I didn't use a lot of what the village had to offer.
There was one part in the game that frustrated me so badly that I had to put the game down for a few days. This actually happened more than once. Usually, I'm pretty open to plot holes and "convenient" story devices or loose ends. However, what Bravely Default did wasted my time with seemingly mindless game padding.
Throughout the story, you're trying to unlock these crystals to undo the calamity that swallowed Norende village. So after you do it the first time by beating up about 28 bosses (one for each job and then the boss at each of the 4 crystals) a pillar of light manifests, and you go through it. What I was expecting at this point was some massive plot progression followed by the next part of the game. What I got was pretty much, "Do it all over again." After you enter the pillar, you end up back on the game map, with indicators for all the bosses that need to be fought again.
Worse yet, at this point there's no real reason as to why. Regardless, I forgave it as a plot device and beat ALL of the bosses again. Keep in mind that about 90% of the cut scenes involved with these boss fights are almost unchanged. Also, the bosses have pretty much the same skill sets but are a little stronger; it's boring repetition. We get a pillar of light again. Awesome, something's going to be revealed this time, and I can move on! Oh, how naive I was. We get a little bit of a reveal as Ringabell starts to recover his memories (oh yay, an amnesia trope on top of parallel worlds). This is where I took 2 weeks off the game the first time.
So again, I beat the side enemies, got the treasure from the chests (some of which wasn't all that great), and finally unlocked the crystals. Another white pillar. I think to myself, they wouldn't make me do it again! I pass through the pillar, and Ringabell recovers all his memories. I progress back to the world map. This is when I took another week off the game. They wanted me to do all that crap AGAIN. You have to beat the crystal bosses 4 times each with the same annoying cut scene before each battle.
Eventually I got back to it, beat the crystal bosses, and FINALLY progressed so could defeat the last 2 bosses.
SPOILERS HAVE ENDED
As much of a fan of RPGs as I am, I'm not sure I would really recommend this game. Every RPG has a time when the pace slows, but the padding in Bravely Default made a lot of people put the game down. The great features related to game play become overshadowed by mindless repetition and only determination to know what the end is like will get you through.
For the sequel, I'd like to keep the ability to mix a main job with a sub-job and have combinations of passive abilities. This adds a great layer of strategy. I'd like some job balancing though to make more jobs utilized in more situations. The street pass features need tweaking too, they just don't seem to add much to the game. I'd almost rather them not be there.
If the sequel comes stateside, I would actually recommend people watch cut scene compilations or borrow the game from a friend rather than buy it, even for the used price. What's your take? Did you finish Bravely Default?