I’ve consciously avoided playing 3DS game demos, even though they’re free, but my Street Pass group was able to “convince” me to try the Bravely Default Demo, and I’m glad I did.
Bravely Default is a traditional JRPG that is similar to Final Fantasy VII – you control a party of different characters and follow a storyline, doing quests and participating in turn-based battles all throughout, sometimes even playing a few minigames.
Unlike other Nintendo 3DS game demos, the Bravely Default Demo doesn’t take you through the beginning sections of Bravely Default. Instead, you start the game with the party of characters already formed, in the presence of the Alcheim Prime Minster, who is asking for assistance. There’s no explanation as to who your characters are and what brought them together – the game goes right away into explaining one of the minigames of Bravely Default and the reason why my group asked me to try this out – the village restoration minigame.
Throughout the game, you can access the rebuilding efforts in Norende village. From there, you can assign villagers to work on different parts of the village, whether it’s to build/improve a specific building (like an item shop or a weapon shop) or to clear out rubble and expand the village’s area. The more villagers you assign to a task, the faster it takes to complete it, so you need to manage your resources correctly.
Buildings that you build or improve unlock different items that can be purchased from an NPC called “the Adventurer”, who shows up in towns and dungeons, so restoring the village is very important. You start the game with one villager but you can get additional ones by triggering some in game events or if you “Street Pass” someone who’s also playing the Bravely Default Demo, which is the main reason that my Street Pass friends recommended the game to me. Aside from being able to rebuild the village, up to twenty villagers earned in the demo are transferred to the full version of Bravely Default if/when you decide to get it.
The demo then discusses that you’ll need to talk to different townsfolk in order to get quests, and that this will be different in the full version. The quests that you’ll take in the demo will make you do a lot of grinding, which seems tedious at first but the purpose is to force you to experience combat as much as you can. The battle and job system of Bravely Default is one of the best systems that I’ve ever played in RPGs, so I see the sense of making you go through as many battles as possible in the demo.
Bravely Default incorporates a job system that is similar to the one in Final Fantasy V, and in the Bravely Default Demo you have access to several jobs right from the start.
Basically, there are several jobs in the game that you can assign to each character. Once assigned, your character can use abilities unique to that job, which changes how that character functions in battle. In addition, your characters earn job points every time they win a battle. Much like experience points, if a character earns a certain amount of job points, they level up in the job that’s currently assigned to them. Leveling up makes them learn more unique abilities that they can use later on.
In addition, characters can also have a secondary Command ability from a different job assigned to them, as well as different support abilities. For example, you can train one character under the White Mage job then once that character has learned enough White Mage abilities, you can change his/her job to Black Mage but still assign White Magic to that character. This gives you with a Black Mage that can cast Black and White Magic in battles.
The battle system of Bravely Default is a typical turn-based action system where you assign different actions like Attack, Item, etc. to your characters in every turn. What differentiates Bravely Default from other RPGs that I’ve played is the Brave and Default system of managing actions. Basically, each character has his/her own pool of actions per turn. Doing a “Default” essentially passes the turn, saving an action point (called a BP in the game) for use in later turns and increasing the defense of your character. Doing a “Brave” takes an action point from the pool (and you can go negative), allowing characters to take more than one action (up to four) in a turn.
This adds a thick layer of battle strategy to the game, because now you have to consider things like using up your action points to go for an all out attack in one turn or deciding to have your entire party defend this turn and save up on action points. It makes for a more active battle experience compared to other turn based RPGs.
I mentioned Street Pass earlier – Street Pass allows you to get more villagers from your friends, but the Bravely Default Demo has another feature that uses Street Pass. While in battle, you have the option to send an action of your choice as a move in Street Pass. Anytime you Street Pass someone, they can then use your action as a special attack. If you have a lot of friends that play the Bravely Default Demo, then you have more friends that you can summon in battle (as well as more villagers for the Norende restoration).
Finally, your progress in the Bravely Default Demo can win you different rewards in the full game. I’ve already mentioned the twenty villagers that can be transferred to Bravely Default, and let me tell you, this is really helpful and can give you a big head start when you play the full version. Completing different quests in the demo can also unlock play bonuses; there’s seven total and I have to be honest, they help but they’re not necessary. It’s nice to have strong equipment early on in an RPG because it saves you from grinding for money when you’re still very weak, so it’s worth getting these.
The Bravely Default Demo single-handedly convinced me to purchase the full version. Before playing the demo, I tried avoiding reading or viewing anything about Bravely Default as I was considering getting older games that I missed out on. But after seeing the battle system and the job system, I was sold – I bought the full version the day after it came out. The Bravely Default Demo provides a good RPG experience for ten to fifteen hours sans a compelling storyline at no cost, so I strongly recommend it to anyone who has a 3DS.