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Bravely Default Demo Hands-On Impressions

I’ve never been a fan of demos because they rarely tell you what you can actually do in a game. It was not until the 3DS with Etrian Odyssey IV that a demo actually told me almost everything about it since it was so long that it had its own save file. Square-Enix’s Bravely Default one-ups Atlus thanks to making a demo with its own story and sidequests, on top of having the ability to StreetPass. After tangling with the demo, I must say that the demo of this fresh new JRPG has me 100% sold on the game, much like Fire Emblem Awakening did last year.

The thing that made Bravely Default so fun was its battle system. Having the ability to spend future turns (Brave). Braving allow you to defeat weaker foes quicker while making significant dents in harder enemies later on. It has a high risk-reward system in place because if you spent more turns than you have, you’re immobile until you’re back to zero.

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However, Defaulting allows you to defend and pool a turn so you can get back to zero quicker if you decide to go into the negatives. Though I rarely defaulted, the idea of Braving characters in different intervals prevented me from dying since immobile players could be healed (and a character can use up to four items, attacks or spells at once thanks to Braving) while others focused primarily on attacking. Let me say that this new system is absolutely refreshing since it removes many of the dead ends we have seen with traditional turn-based JRPGs.

On another note, you can send or receive characters via StreetPass and can only be done in battle as one of your turns strangely enough. The full game will also do it via the Nintendo Network too. Summoning other players’ characters can aid you in battle.

Bravely Default’s gameplay was the star of the show here not only because the demo had slim-to-nothing when it came to story, but the demo had me grinding for a while at first, and it didn’t get old once. One other element to that was its Final Fantasy Tactics Advance-style job class system. That means characters can change classes once they became available, but were able to use one older class’ skills as well.

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The demo allows all the characters at anytime to change their class, which the demo had (there’ll be more in the final game):

  • Freelancer: Average at everything
  • Knight: Can take advantage of Physical Attack and Defense, great with Shields
  • Black Mage: Offensive magic
  • White Mage: Defensive magic
  • Red Mage: Allows both Black and White magic, just not their strong spells
  • Ninja: High speed and evasion but low defense
  • Performer: Support dances that can buff the party
  • Valkyrie: Like Knights but with different skills and weapons
  • Swordmaster: High attack and can counterattack

I strongly believe the demo fast-forwarded your progress since it only took a few hours to master all the available classes, but changing up your characters with new weapons and attacks often really prevented any grinding fatigue. By the final boss of the demo, I had Agnes master both the Black and White Mage classes, so as a Black Mage, she could also heal the party with her superior MP and Magic Attack. Meanwhile the other three were dual-wielding Ninjas who also had the Swordmaster ability to counter the villain’s strong attacks.

Not only are you traveling around this area killing bosses in several small dungeons for the town of Ancheim, you are also upgrading a town called Norende Village. The tasks require villagers to spend real world hours upgrading shops or clearing roads to unlock more shops. Completing these tasks will allow merchants (who are your save points outside fields), to sell you better gear and items. It is mandatory to do so since weapons won’t effect higher-leveled enemies later on. You can obtain two villagers (which can either cut the time of a village upgrade in half or allow you to do two upgrades at once), but you can obtain even more if you StreetPass other Bravely Default demo players. It’s silly with such a long demo that you have to come back to that Nintendo put up a limiter for how many times you can boot up the thing.

Bravely Default’s demo took me a staggering nine hours to beat. When I looked at my 3DS’ Activity Log, it showed that the demo took longer to beat than the full-priced New Super Mario Bros. 2, Super Mario 3D Land, Starfox 64 3D, Resident Evil Revelations, and Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate. It is totally worth completing the demo to the fullest since completing all the quests, including total restoration to Norende Village, will gain you items for the full game. It is also absolutely worth downloading the free demo and I hope it gets you excited over the real thing, which launches February 7th. You can download the demo by following the instructions below:

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