What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Bravely Default is a turn-based Japanese role-playing game. Its battles aren't particularly violent -- players will see sword slashes and magic spells accompanied by flashes of light -- but they are frequent, with players sometimes spending a couple of hours at a time simply fighting monsters in dungeons. The story, about a girl and her friends trying the save the world, is filled with messages about courage and responsibility. But it's tempered by the combat as well as a main character's tendency throughout the game to obsess over and objectify women. There's also a side quest in which the main group discusses at length, several times, the nature of "sexy" clothing (though without actually talking about sex or showing any of the sexy clothes referenced).
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
Engagement, Approach, Support
Lovely visuals and music combines with a polished and finely tuned battle system to make for a very fun time. Keep in mind, though, that the complexity will likely turn off less experienced kids.
Battles force kids to think strategically, analyzing enemy tactics while formulating plans of defense and attack, all while managing limited stores of health and resources.
No official supports exist outside the game, but players will find plenty of instruction throughout the adventure. Many player-aid text and video walkthroughs exist online.
What's it about?
BRAVELY DEFAULT is a very traditional Japanese fantasy RPG. It stars four young heroes: a boy whose town was destroyed in a cataclysmic event, a mystical girl whose understanding of her religion may hold the key to stopping the event from spreading, an amnesiac in possession of a book that seems to foretell the future, and a female warrior who decides to turn against her people and her father and do what she believes is right. This quartet of unlikely friends travels among countries and continents via a ship, attempting to restore the four giant crystals that govern the world's primary elements to an active state. Expect plenty of dialogue sequences and towns to explore, as well as lengthy adventures through dungeons teeming with fantastical creatures that throw the heroes into strategic turn-based battles in which they must select attacks, spells, and healing powers to survive and achieve victory.
Is it any good?
Bravely Default sticks pretty close to the formula established by the decades of games that came before it and have come to define the Japanese role-playing experience. Fans of such games aren't going to be terribly surprised by any plot twists, and most of the character types are going to seem pretty familiar. Also, fans likely will take to the process of upgrading equipment and changing jobs -- characters can switch among dozens of roles such as time mage, monk, and valkyrie -- fairly quickly. Intriguing StreetPass features allowing players to exchange characters with one another to be summoned for single attacks are interesting but, in the end, largely a novelty.
Where Bravely Default really stands out is in its titular commands. Players can assume a "default" or a "brave" stance on each turn. The former puts them in a defensive position and banks an extra move that can be spent on the next turn. The former lets you spend up to four banked moves at once, unleashing devastating attacks. This system makes possible all sorts of interesting tactics and turns each battle into something much more complex than simply tapping a button to select the same attacks over and over. It's this combat twist that will win over most players and keep them coming back to finish the game's 50-plus-hour campaign.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about how girls and women are depicted in games. What did you think of the mission in which the main group of characters talked repeatedly about women's "sexy" clothing? Are the female characters in this game treated with respect throughout? What did you think of Ringabel's obsession with women?
Families also can discuss sharing virtual items with others online. Do you see any way in which a game like this might expose you to something dangerous? What sorts of messages have other players written to accompany the characters they exchange with you?