Nope. I preordered the fancy special edition, so I am automatically biased towards wanting to absolutely love the game.
That is how badly I was disappointed.
I posted many times on GN before The Erasure in great detail about how absolutely terrible BD is and I'm not inclined to revisit that horror again.
1 The story is absolute garbage.
Here are some things that happen early in the game (adapted from my notes):
A knight's father is the innkeeper and you can just go up to see the king because you expect he knows what happened to your village but he sends you out alone because the neighboring kingdom is hitting them with cannonballs?? Tiz meets Agnès and saves her. She and Airy the Fairy tell him that he's a miracle man. He tells her he wants to follow her to stop anyone else from also having their home destroyed as well as fix his village? She wants to ditch the miracle man. Is this supposed to make any sense at all?
You kill a bad knight and steal an airship in mid-flight, which immediately starts going down. Ringabell reads his magic book and discovers he's an airship pilot, of course. Deus Ex Machina every time, is it? You save the king and are given...nothing at all. Party chat is increasingly moronic. It's mostly tutorializing by this point. You learn nothing about these characters.
You encounter a thief with a bodyguard. You defeat the bodyguard, but strangely, he runs away before he can die. Just before the fight, there's a nonsensical story part where Tiz tells him he was totally not abandoned and could track down his parents to ask why he was abandoned. Then he kills the thief.
2 The characters suck.
Agnès acts like she has a hole in her head. You walk into a room to do a special ceremony and Airy says, "Hey, you know you need the special clothes, of course?" "Of course! They're in the next room!" Why didn't she say that before we went into the ceremony room?
Agnès wants to sacrifice herself, Tiz saves her, Agnès thanks him and says she'll never do that again. Agnès immediately wants to sacrifice herself again.
Tiz is all about "I want to restore my village" and the best way to do this is to travel very, very far away from the village. When his village is actually restored...he doesn't care, at all.
Ringabell has that bloody journal. Every single time they get stuck, they open the magic book and are TOLD EXACTLY WHAT TO DO. They then blindly do this thing. Agnès is a very modest girl but when the book says she has to enter a beauty pageant, then by gum, she's going to!
Well, okay, so if the story and characters are dumb, maybe the play mechanics can make up for that?
3 The mechanics are stupid and boring.
There's also way too much hand-holding. There's an auto map on the lower screen, paths end in blue glows, there are giant arrows pointing the way to go, and Airy sits around on the bottom screen telling you exactly what to do.
On the other hand...the game unhelpfully lets you wander around with an equipped monk, not bothering to warn you that unequipping ups attack considerably. If you can equip any job skill as any job, why can't I cast White Magic from the menu with it unset and am forced to waste a few seconds unnecessarily switching jobs back and forth? I mean, the menu is not really the game world, is it?
Slightly later on, I discovered why there are big arrows everywhere. After talking to one girl and learning we need a hairpin, we're supposed to ask at the shop that we're told DOESN'T sell them. The shop keep says she doesn't sell them. She points out a girl with dyed hair who when talked to this time, becomes a talker. She tells me nothing but says to talk to the men and report any new trends from them, which means I have to talk with the guy on the other side of the plaza. He points to the next girl. She tells me a secret...some pervy old guy from the woods sells sexy clothes. I try to leave town because I know exactly who she means but have to talk with the mayor first. Dyed-hair girl tells me the dye lady might be in town soon. She's immediately by the gate. There's now an arrow pointing to the armory. She sends us on a quest west to the garden for pins.
Holy hand-holding Batman!
The combat system is terrible. The much hyped "Brave and Default" system basically amounts to WAIT several turns to power up attacks and hope the bad guys don't decide to block the turn you attack. Yeah, that's what turn-based combat needs to spice it up. MORE WAITING. The ATB SNES Square games were leagues ahead of this one, and they came out last century!
4 The game system is broken.
Various jobs do things like:
- automatically revive you after you die if the boring combat puts you to sleep.
- let you purchase any support item you want, right in combat so if you forgot to buy something before leaving town, just buy whatever you like in the middle of the fight.
The game defaults to autosaving. When I say autosave, I mean it autosaves every time you change maps, which is about every five minutes or so. This means you are never in danger of losing more than a couple minutes of progress. Put it on auto-combat to handle all the stupid time wasting fights put in to pad out the game's play time and re-do the ones it fails at. Then you can suffer through more horrible story as you gradually realise you hate every single character.
If you are really scared of dying for some reason, then you can just TURN OFF random encounters whenever you want. WOW. How broken is that? When I mentioned that on GN last time, some complete moron said, "Hurr, durr, it's an option." The developers went out of their way to make the game as unchallenging as possible. Why on earth would someone want to make or PLAY a game that has no challenge whatsoever? Why not put in a "summon random encounter" button?
You can borrow someone else's high-level character for your own game, so you can destroy anything that comes your way. So much for play balancing.
If you hang around with the game in Sleep Mode, you gain special items to take extra turns in combat. If there was any semblance of strategy in this mess, this would totally unbalance everything since well, imagine getting a free extra move in a chess match whenever you wanted. Yeah. Presumably, this Sleep Mode nonsense was intended as free advertising for the game. You can see what people have been playing in StreetPass Plaza, so they were hoping people would say, "Hey, a lot of people have been playing Bravely Default! It must be awesome!"
You fix Tiz's village in real time, which meant that I repaired his village in either chapter 1 or 2. As noted above, he simply doesn't care when this happens.
Well, maybe it's a visual and aural treat?
5 The graphics are cut-rate.
"Graphics overall look pretty ugly, but I'm going to have to chalk that up to playing on an XL, which makes everything blockier and fuzzier at the same time. The castle town is low-res 2D, then faked into 3D, which is kind of unique but aesthetically unpleasing. The shopkeeps are 2D closeups of really ugly 3D models."
The regular in-game graphics are nothing to phone home about.
6 At least it sounds nice.
Metacritic is not a particularly useful site. If you think aggregating a bunch of opinions will somehow create a super opinion, I believe you may have to consider that more carefully.
My opinion is only based on objective analysis of the experience I had. It is not based on me reading other people's glowing reviews and believing that I must also love it.
It is without question NOT a AAA title. Playing with eyes and ears open is enough to show that. It's a cheaply made, badly designed boring RPG with an astoundingly bad story compounded with a heavy-handed localization. At least in the west, we got the slightly upgraded version right off the bat.
One of the few praises I have for it is that they let you select text and voice tracks independently, which is something Nintendo initially couldn't figure out how to do for Legend of Zelda: Breath of Something.
Speaking of Zelda: Breath of Wii U Version Cut Down to Match Switch Version (or whatever it's called), I've said it's an okay game as opposed to The Mostest Perfectest Gamest Everest, as everyone else in the world claims because there's an awful lot of padding and since you can climb all over the place, you can accidentally skip by some carefully planned fights or character interactions. I'm sure Metacritic probably has it at a solid 217, so hooray for echo chambers.
A second game people will breathlessly tell me is flawless in every way is Xenoblade Chronicles X, which is another game with an atrocious story but apparently people these days don't care about story in their story-based role playing games.