Do you ever get that feeling that the world has it out for you? That the stars and planets have aligned perfectly just to deter you from obtaining the thing that you want most in the world? Most people would be convinced that you are crazy. And honestly, I tend to agree with them. But in the video game world, I truly believe the algorithms perform some strange code dance that purposefully prevents me from furthering my progress.
So my current gaming obsession is Square Enix’s Bravely Default.
I first learned about Bravely Default while surfing Youtube during my school’s winter break. As an avid Pokemon fan, I tend to subscribe to youtube channels that primarily focus on the Pokemon franchise. TheJWittz is a youtuber whose main focus is all things Pokemon and Nintendo. However, he has recently decided to create smaller segments on his channel that integrates other games in an attempt to make his channel more universal to gain a wider audience. While watching one of TheJWittz’s videos about censoring in Bravely Default, I was immediately entranced by the crisp and colorful graphics of the game. The preview of the game had hooked me in embarrassingly easily, though it was to be expected (as an art enthusiast, I’m a sucker for good animation).
There are a lot of good reviews for the game available, but here’s a quick synopsis: Bravely Default is the pseudo-successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light that follows the journey of the games four main protagonist- Tiz, Agnes, Edea, and Ringabel- on a journey to cleanse four crystals in order to restore balance to a dying world. The game is a strategic RPG that mostly mimics the turn based combat and character job system typical of the Final Fantasy franchise. One glaring difference of combat is the “default” and “brave” options for which the game is named after. “Default” allows you to skip your turn for the benefit of storing energy, while “brave” allows you to release that energy to deal more damage to your opponents. As a strategy game, this decision is crucial to your success or failure when battling a boss.
When the game was finally released in the Americas, I waited a week before rushing out to buy it because, you know, school. When I was finally able to play the game, my mind was instantly blown away by the quality of it. The music was enchanting, the graphics were clear and vivid, and the characters actually spoke! All notions of school were immediately dumped from my head that weekend.
Not my greatest moment, I know.
Now, I may not be a world class strategist, but I’m no slouch either. When I first started playing, I do what I always do in leveling up games: I grinded my team. For those of you that don’t know, grinding is when you complete repetitive tasks in order to obtain an object or achievement. In my case, I walked around killing monsters to level up my team so when I finally came across boss battles, I would be able to easily sweep them. Great strategy, right?
The first boss was a pair of fighters that were ludicrously easy to beat simply because their only purpose was to get you to understand the combat system. The second boss, Ominas Crowe, was a complete and utter troll. Crowe is known as the easiest boss to defeat in the entire game, yet here he was defeating my team left, right, and center! I was on level 10 for crying out loud! Crowe is a dark mage; meaning he had damaging magic moves, i.e. fire and blizzard, that completely obliterated my team. Not to mention, he silenced my white mage- the healer- so she couldn’t cure the fighters, because mages can’t cast without speaking. It was a dark day. I had already battled him three times and lost (badly). Wasn’t he suppose the be a pushover? Not to mention that I was still in the prologue of the game! I couldn’t advance in the game until I had beaten him. Here I was, spending hours trying to move onto chapter one of the game, and this jerk was standing in my way; like he was freakin’ Gandolf the Grey!
It wasn’t until I finally figured that me continuously spamming “brave” without “defaulting” to store power wasn’t going to get me anywhere. The game was a strategy game for a reason. And here I was trying to use brawn over brains, when the title blatantly tells me that I have to find the happy medium of the two to progress further. After taking an hour break (it had already been four hours since I first challenged Crowe), I finally arranged my team so that my hardest hitters were first while my white mage (Agnes) lured attention away from herself in order to heal the fighters. And it worked (even though Tiz and Ringabel had fainted). After roughly six ours I had finally made it through the prologue of the game and entered into chapter one! All that work had finally paid off! As I proudly entered onto the next route, one thing completely slipped my mind.
I didn’t heal my team after the battle.
So imagine my surprise when the first rogue monsters I meet are in a group of four and half of my teem is unable to battle, while those that are, are at quarter health. Yeah.