A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bravely Default II is a Japanese role-playing game for the Nintendo Switch. This is a sequel to 2014's Bravely Default on the Nintendo 3DS. A party of four heroes roams around a fantasy world attempting to thwart a group of evildoers who have stolen several magic crystals and have used them to cause various disasters. As the quartet journeys, they frequently run into monsters (and occasionally people) intent on doing them harm, which initiates battles in which the heroes and their enemies take turns attacking each other, healing, and casting various spells. Characters swing swords and shoot bows, causing flashes of light and fire, but no blood or gore. Enemies fall to the ground and disappear once defeated. At one point, the group runs across a pile of dead bodies with a red aura around them, and they also talk at length about the murder of a child and how one villain is using blood to create red paint for his art. The protagonists are clearly kind and loyal people who want to support each other, save the world, and assist anyone in need of help -- often without resorting to combat. Some people they aid end up imparting worthwhile lessons about a range of topics, including equality, jealousy, persecution, and seeing the good even in those who do bad. Parents should also be aware that one of the heroes is a borderline alcoholic who talks a lot about getting drinks to celebrate.
What's it about?
BRAVELY DEFAULT II puts players in control of a quartet of heroes who come together to help one of them -- Gloria, a princess of a fallen kingdom -- collect a group of magic crystals with the power to cause catastrophe in the wrong hands. As they journey, they see firsthand how the crystals are being used to bring mayhem to once stable lands, including floods in a desert and a town overgrown with a tangle of enormous tree limbs. Their adventuring puts them in the way of a variety of hostile fantasy monsters, resulting in turn-based combat encounters. Players choose actions for each hero when their turn comes, assigning them to attack, heal, or use magic and items. As in the original Bravely Default for Nintendo 3DS, players have the option of "borrowing" future turns, allowing each hero to act up to four times in one go, with various risks and rewards, or to store actions for future use and spend the current turn defending. Each character has a pair of player-assigned jobs -- ranger, white mage, thief, etc. -- that slowly level up and unlock special powers that can be useful against specific types of enemies. More jobs and abilities come available as the game progresses, as do new side quests in kingdoms and towns that players have already visited, providing reason to return to areas players have already explored and extend the game while gradually increasing the party's strength.
Is it any good?
This very traditional feeling Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) tries hard to address many of the trickiest and most pervasive problems of the genre while weirdly ignoring others. Bravely Default II tells a fairly simple good-versus-evil story set in a conventional fantasy world with turn-based battles. The heroes are charismatic and memorable, and the non-player characters they meet and attempt to assist suffer problems worth fixing -- such as a lonely girl who still feels beholden to an emotionally abusive man who helped her when she was down. Players are bound to care about the game's various personalities and will likely feel invested in their stories, even if it all feels a bit familiar. New and returning fans who enjoy strategic turn-based combat will find plenty to like about the battle system as they tinker with borrowing future turns, trying to match up character jobs with the types of enemies they're encountering in each dungeon, and choosing passive abilities that fit well with their play style. It's a sophisticated and well-balanced system that rewards careful analysis, experimentation, and measured risk.
The developers have done a fine job of providing ways players can tweak the game to overcome many of the complaints frequently leveled at JRPGs. Battles taking too long? Just crank up combat speed. Tired of mashing the attack command? Just press Y to order your hero to repeat their last actions. Bored with surfing menus to use items and magic to heal everyone after each battle? Just tap X to revive, heal, and cure the entire party in the most efficient means available. At the same time, though, there are moments of frustration that could have been easily solved. The labyrinthine dungeons, for example, have no maps, needlessly forcing players to try to memorize mazes as they deal with branching paths and dead ends. And while scores of side quests exist to try to give purpose to the inevitable level grinding required to grow your heroes' strength and abilities, many boil down to simply revisiting explored locations to find something or battle a specific type of enemy. Bravely Default II is a fun and polished traditional role-playing game that works to gently nudge the genre into the present, but there's still room for growth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about substance abuse. One of the characters in Bravely Default II isn't shy about showing his love of alcohol. Do you think the other heroes react appropriately to his interest in drinking?
When was the last time you volunteered to help someone you saw in need of assistance? What made you decide to offer aid? How did it make you feel?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: February 26, 2021
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
- Last updated: March 10, 2021
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