Bravely Default is a role playing game for the 3DS that tells a somewhat familiar story. Set in a world that's regulated by several crystals, when the crystals start to lose their energy, and things start to go wrong, the land is plunged into chaos, as rival factions blame each other. Luckily, there's an ordinary guy here to team up with three other unlikely counterparts, and set off on a quest to save the world.
While it may not be the most original of plots, it's the characterisation that makes Bravely Default, with the four main characters having distinct, appealing personalities that leads the plenty of humour - especially between the amnesiac womaniser Ringabell, and the fiery Edea. Battles here are turn based, with a unique system that lets you "stack" moves, taking four turns in one go if you're happy to let the enemy attack you four times in a row in return.
However, Bravely Default is also remarkably difficult. Although there is an adjustable difficulty level (that's hidden away under "Tactics" in the pause menu), even tweaking the difficulty makes little difference, as the bosses you end up coming up against are more than a challenge for your team. With the baddies having 10x the health of your team, and doing 5x the damage, bosses can often wipe out your entire team in a dozen turns, which may be frustrating to newer players, who don't know how to counter it. The only real way to beat the bosses seems to be to "grind" - to run around, fighting other monsters in order to level your characters up, and make them stronger, but even that's a challenge when the regular enemies put up more than enough of a fight.
Beyond the complexity of the battles, there's also a mixture of voiced lines, and those that need to be read. While "My clemency was met with wilful pride. She promised to return the wind to motion single-handedly." is voiced, "Welcome, Lady Vestal. I fear his Majesty remains firmly ensconced within." is not, so needless to say, a strong reading ability is a must. In all, this is a role playing game that's best suited to older players.
Although the game's been edited for the European market, there's still a few things parents will want to keep in mind about Bravely Default. While there's nothing in the way of bad language, the game does feature some minor innuendo. One section sees a character describing a woman as being "pleasantly jiggly", another asking "how far have you got with her? What, not even held hands", while there's a fairly light hearted, yet particularly creepy moment with an old man, that offers the two ladies in your team that he'd happily make room in his bed if they needed to stay the night. This happens just before you head off bikini shopping so you can enter a beauty contest (although you never see the bikini). Any violence there is is minor, as enemies (and characters) don't bleed, instead simply jumping when hit, before disappearing when defeated.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo 3DS