I finally had a chance last night to take the Bravely Default demo for a spin. I played the game when it first came out in Japan, but that was 15 months ago and a lot has happened since then. I’d forgotten just how good it is — and tough! The demo didn’t waste much time stomping my party into a mud hole, though I had the foresight to invest in Poisona right at the outset, which minimized the brutality of all the poison-dealing foes early on in the demo.
I’d also forgotten just how much of a sequel to The 4 Heroes of Light. Not just a tangential follow-up, but a direct successor in terms of aesthetics, design, and the general world view. For instance, the two games’ take on orcs isn’t similar; it’s identical. And their appearance is far too specific to be a coincidence:
Bravely Default does make some tweaks to the mechanics of 4 Heroes, the biggest probably being the ability to make much more granular choices in combat. For my part, I never had trouble with 4 Heroes‘ approach, which wasn’t too different from the way you deal with monster groups in Dragon Quest (the AI selects your specific target for you, determining which precise enemy you will attack based on your holistic choices and which outcome will work best for you). It’s an odd approach, but it works, though I can understand why some people wouldn’t cotton to it.
Tweak a game, make it prettier, give it a fakeout out a name and it’s amazing how differently it can be received. Bravely Default is being regarded with as much adulation as 4 Heroes was treated with apathy. Not that I’m complaining — Nintendo took a chance bringing over a sequel to someone else’s poorly received RPG, and it looks likely to pay off for them. It probably doesn’t hurt that we’re all a little starved for quality RPGs these days, unlike when 4 Heroes arrived. You don’t love what you got and all that.