Bravely Default, known in Japan as Bravely Default: Flying Fairy,[a] is a role-playing video game developed by Silicon Studio for the Nintendo 3DS handheld video game console. Bravely Default was originally released in 2012, while an expanded edition titled For the Sequel released in 2013 in Japan, Europe and Australia, and in 2014 in North America. Square Enix published the game in Japan, while Nintendo handled publishing duties overseas. The gameplay uses a turn-based battle system and job system, in addition to incorporating options to combine job abilities and adjust battle speed and random encounter rates.
Bravely Default is set in the world of Luxendarc, which is kept in balance by four elemental crystals protected by the Crystal Orthodoxy, a religious group with influence across the world. Agnès Oblige, vestal of the Wind Crystal, is forced to begin a journey to awaken the crystals after they are consumed by darkness. Allying with Tiz Arrior, the sole survivor from Norende, amnesiac Ringabel, and Eternian defector Edea Lee, Agnès sets out to awaken the crystals and confront a greater evil responsible for events.
Starting development as an action role-playing sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, it retained elements from the Final Fantasy series while having its own story and gameplay elements. The producer of The 4 Heroes of Light, Tomoya Asano, returned to produce Bravely Default. The story's writer was Naotaka Hayashi, who was brought in from 5pb. due to his work on Steins;Gate. The characters designs were handled by multiple artists, including art director Akihiko Yoshida and Atsushi Ōkubo. The game was influenced by western video games and television series, and individual elements were inspired by aspects of the Dragon Quest series and Higurashi When They Cry. The music, composed by Revo of Sound Horizon, was intended to evoke the feelings of classic series such as Dragon Quest and SaGa.
Bravely Default was first announced in September 2011 as part of Nintendo's 2012 lineup for the platform. In the run-up to release, multiple demos were developed, and the team adjusted the game using feedback from players. For the Sequel was the version chosen for overseas release, being localized without any subtitle. In both Japan and overseas, Bravely Default met with strong sales and critical acclaim. Common praise went to the gameplay's mixture of traditional mechanics and new elements, along with its storyline, graphics and music. Main points of criticism were its repetitive late-game stages and elements of its social gameplay and audio. Bravely Default spawned multiple media tie-ins and spin-off games. A direct sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer, was released in 2015 in Japan and 2016 overseas.
Bravely Default is a role-playing game (RPG) which features a party of four characters navigating the fantasy world of Luxendarc. Navigation in towns, dungeons and the world map environments are done from an angled, third-person overhead view: the character remains still, the camera zooms out to a distant view. These environments are displayed on the top screen of the Nintendo 3DS system, while the bottom screen displays maps of environments, party stats and other information such as item menus. On the world map, a day-night cycle alters the types of enemies present, and after a certain point in the story an airship can be used to speed up travel and access previously inaccessible areas. In towns, players can interact with non-playable characters (NPCs), purchase items or magic at specialized shops, buy or sell weapons and equipment at an armory, or rest at an inn to restore health points (HP) and magic points (MP). In all environments, the party can find chests containing items, weapons or equipment. During certain points, a Party Chat option appears, giving players the option of initiating conversations between the party members. During exploration, standard enemies appear through random encounters: outside battle, the counter rate can be adjusted from high to nothing. The game features multiple difficulty levels, which can be adjusted freely outside battle.
Outside the main campaign, the game uses networking features powered by the 3DS' StreetPass functionality. A central element is the campaign to reconstruct the village of Norende, destroyed at the beginning of the game. The village is constructed on new ground after obstacles are removed and an area is prepared. The reconstruction incorporates social game elements: friends encountered by the player through StreetPass and online invites become the village's residents, and their efforts are used to create various buildings including houses and shops. The amount of time a project takes to complete depends on the number of friends assigned to it, taking anywhere from days to weeks. Increasing the number of people speeds up the towns' reconstruction. As the reconstruction progresses, the player is awarded with new items and equipment. Individual buildings will gain experience points, granting access to higher-tier rewards, and players have the option of adjusting the types of items rewarded. Special randomly generated optional bosses, known as Nemeses, will appear in the region. Defeating them yields special rewards.
Battles come in two types: random encounters with standard enemies, and staged boss battles. The battle system revolves around turn-based combat: each side is allowed to perform an action or multiple actions, with each character having independent movements and commands: these actions include attacking with the equipped weapon, using magic, or using an item. The party also has the option to escape from most battles. Key to the battle system are the Bravely and Default options. Brave Points (BP) dictate the number of actions a character or enemy can take within a turn, along with being needed for the execution of certain abilities. Party members can utilize BP down into negative figures, enabling up to four actions within a single turn. When the BP gauge is into negative figures, they must wait for the BP counter to reach zero before they can act again. BP are naturally recovered once per turn. Alternately, a chosen character can Default, which accumulates BP and reduces the damage taken by enemy strikes. An additional power is Bravely Second, an ability which freezes time for the enemy, allowing a party member to move four times in a single turn with no cost. Bravely Second requires SP, a currency which is either replenished while the 3DS is in sleep mode or through buying regenerative SP Drinks using microtransactions. Battle speed during combat can be sped up or returned to normal by the player's choice.
Tied into the battle system is a Job system: beginning with the Freelancer, the party can gain additional Jobs by obtaining gems called Asterisks from defeated human bosses. Twenty-four Jobs can be found in the game, ranging from the agile Valkyrie, and White and Black Mages that respectively specialize in healing and fighting magic. Each Job has different strengths and weaknesses in battle. Outside battle, characters can be assigned any available Job. In addition to the skills of the equipped Job, the skills of a second Job can be learned, allowing for free customization of parties and the mixing of Job abilities in battle. After obtaining the Summoner Job, characters can use summoned monsters to launch attacks that deal high damage on all enemies. Friend characters can also be summoned from other players' games: the more a friend summon is used, the more effective their actions become. Descriptions of defeated enemies, along with story recaps and descriptions of locations, are included in an item called D's journal.
Within certain conditions, characters can perform Special Moves, customizable powerful moves tied to Jobs: after a Special Move is performed, the entire party is granted buffs for a limited period. This period is represented with a specific tune that plays over normal battle music. Various elements can be added to Special Moves, such as granting elemental properties, launching status ailments at enemies, recovering HP and MP, and temporary status ailment immunity to the party. The customization of Special Moves is directly tied to the creation of specialist shops during the reconstruction of Norende. Experience points acquired at the end of a battle enable characters and their assigned Jobs to level up, unlocking new abilities and boosting character stats such as available HP and MP. Bonuses are gained if the party fulfilled certain conditions. Job abilities and levels can also be borrowed from online friends, in a feature called Abilink. Any Job can be borrowed from available players regardless of their current level.
Bravely Default is set in the world of Luxendarc, which is kept in balance by four elemental crystals which are protected and venerated by the global religion known as the Crystal Orthodoxy. One day, the crystals are consumed by darkness and the world is thrown into chaos with numerous calamities. Agnès Oblige, Vestal of the Wind Crystal, escapes while the rest of the temple's worshipers perish to protect her. At the same time, a great chasm opens up beneath the village of Norende, killing all of its inhabitants except a young shepherd named Tiz Arrior. When he returns to the chasm hoping to find other survivors, he meets Agnès and her fairy companion Airy. The three are then attacked by forces from the hostile Duchy of Eternia, who seek to prevent Agnès from awakening the crystals. After defeating the soldiers, Tiz decides to travel with Agnès as her protector. They return to Caldisla, where they are also joined by Ringabel, an amnesiac vagabond who holds a book predicting future events, and Edea Lee, an Eternian soldier who becomes disillusioned and defects after her commanding officer commits war crimes. The party travels to the three of the four temples and awaken each of the crystals from darkness, being confronted by the forces of Eternia as they proceed. During their journey, the group is aided by the ancient Sage Yulyana and observed by the immortal Lord DeRosso. The party eventually reaches Eternia, the home of the Earth Crystal, and are forced to defeat the Duchy's leader, Edea's father Braev Lee in battle. A column of light then appears in the Great Chasm once the Earth Crystal is awakened. Airy instructs the others to take her to the Pillar of Light. After the group fend off Edea's close friend Dark Knight Alternis Dim, whose face is identical to Ringabel's, Airy's ritual instead sends them into a parallel world.
The process is repeated multiple times; in each of the five worlds the group travel through, they find and awaken the corrupted crystals, Airy performs her ritual in the pillar of light, and they are thrown into a new parallel world. In each world, they find variations on the situations they encountered in their own world, and gradually learn several truths about themselves and their adversaries. Nearly all of the Eternian elite they face were taken in by Braev out of compassion as they were rejected by the Orthodoxy, and Yulyana and DeRosso are revealed to be Braev's allies and key figures in cleansing the Orthodoxy of its corruption. During the group's travels, both Yulyana and DeRosso give subtle warnings to Tiz and Agnès about Airy's intentions. Ringabel, revealed to be a version of Alternis Dim who got dragged into the group's Luxendarc, slowly regains his memories of pursuing the party of his world before witnessing them being killed by Airy after she turned into a monster. In truth, Airy has been manipulating the party and use the crystals to link the worlds to enable her master, the demon Ouroboros, to reach and conquer the Celestial Realm.
Depending on the player's actions, two different routes play out. In the normal route, triggered if Agnès destroys one of the crystals after figuring out Airy's scheme, Airy attacks them in a fit of rage. The group then pursues her to the Dark Aurora, a realm of darkness near the chasm, and defeat her; her final words claim Ouroboros is still a threat to the world. In the canonical route, should the player awaken the crystals across four different worlds, Airy reveals herself and is defeated by the party. The group goes to Yulyana and DeRosso, who reveal a message left by an "angel", a version of Agnès from another world who was betrayed by Airy; the two have been planning for Ouroboros' arrival, and the group resolves to stop the demon. They travel to the Dark Aurora and defeat Airy, who is then devoured by Ouroboros. After revealing that Tiz is being kept alive by a being from the Celestial Realm, Ouroboros attacks, and DeRosso sacrifices himself to restrain the demon's regeneration. The party are temporarily stopped when Ouroboros begins consuming worlds to regain strength, but alternate versions of them break the links formed by Ouroboros, giving the party a chance to destroy him. Before the path between worlds closes, they return to their own world.
In the epilogue, Agnès and Edea return to their respective groups to better relations between the reformed Orthodoxy and the Duchy; Ringabel returns to his own world and reclaims his identity as Alternis Dim; Tiz is rendered comatose after going to Caldisla's graveyard and releasing the Celestial Being within him. In a special video teasing the second game, Tiz wakes in a life support tank in Eternia before being rescued from captivity by the mysterious Magnolia Arch.
According to producer Tomoya Asano, Bravely Default began development as a sequel to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (2009), and would have been part of the Final Fantasy franchise. After completing The 4 Heroes of Light, Asano considered what he wanted to do next. Despite having the option to developing something within Square Enix's core franchises, he wanted to do something new, establishing a new brand. During this initial phase, the original development team reached out to Silicon Studio, whose previous work was mostly related to development middleware. Silicon Studio developed a well-received demo for the project and were assigned to develop the game. Despite moving away from the Final Fantasy series, it retained a battle system and world setting in common with many Final Fantasy games. According to Asano, this was both a hangover of the project's original form and a conscious choice to give players from the Final Fantasy series a sense of comfortable familiarity. In later responses to fan questions, Asano confirmed that he designed the Final Fantasy-style story so players would have little trouble entering the world. The story-telling and gameplay was heavily influenced by western video games and television series. Asano described the result as a "Japanese RPG with American content thrown in". The main challenge for the team was making Bravely Default a traditional RPG without overloading it with nostalgic elements. Despite this, as the team were fans of both Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest, nostalgic features were added for genre veterans and be appreciated by newcomers. Asano wanted to bring together what he considered the three core elements of RPGs (battles, growth, and connection) in Bravely Default. An important element was creating a casual experience that anyone could enjoy, even if they had never played an RPG.
During development, the team decided to cater for the core Japanese RPG fanbase, as they did not believe the game viable for Western release at the time. At the early stages of development, Bravely Default was going to be an action role-playing game, a genre Silicon Studios had previously worked on with 3D Dot Game Heroes. After developing a prototype build and putting it before Asano, it was decided to make the battle system a traditional turn-based model. The interdependent "Bravely" and "Default" systems underwent changes during the development process. Initially, Asano envisioned a system similar to the Tension stat used in multiple Dragon Quest games, but designer Kensuke Nakahara wanted something more exciting for players. He was also annoyed that the majority of bosses in both Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy got two or more actions per turn while player characters only got one each. After some consideration, Nakahara decided on a system where characters could bank points by not taking actions during a turn for later use, or create loan points to act multiple times in a current turn. The concept of the Notebook of D, which would offer players deeper insights into the world of Bravely Default, was inspired by a similar system from Higurashi When They Cry. During the late stages of the game's development, the team had to make several last-minute tweaks and changes to ensure the game delivered the best possible performance. Due to the game's chosen mechanics, balancing the game became a major part of later development.
The core concept of Bravely Default was defined by Asano as "everyone can play", as he wanted to bring positive elements from the growing social game market into Bravely Default. The social gameplay was made up of three different elements: the ability to employ StreetPass friends to help reconstruct Norende, the ability to summon friends' characters into battle as a summon, and the "Abilink" option which allowed players to borrow each other's job levels. The initial versions of these functions were not as elaborate as they would become in the final product. Norende Village was initially displayed on a single screen, but at a suggestion from Asano it was enlarged so players needed to slide the display around. The summoning option was initially going to be a simple display of the summoned character, but it was decided to make the summoning sequence more elaborate. The summoning text initially shared fonts with other elements, but as Asano wanted it to have more impact, a more florid font was used. This styling was influenced by a sequence featuring Japanese idol group AKB48 in an unspecified television drama. The usage of StreetPass was incorporated to differentiate Bravely Default from other RPGs of the time, forming part of Asano's wish to create something new. A notable feature included in the game were augmented reality (AR) movies. The AR movies were developed using a software development kit provided by Nintendo and implemented into the game by Silicon Studios. A unique gimmick included in the game was using the platform's camera to project the player's image into an area of the arena during the final boss battle.
The game's music was composed by Revo, the leader of Japanese musical group Sound Horizon. Asano contacted Revo concerning a collaboration as he had listened to his 2004 album Chronicle 2nd. During his work, Revo was able to see the game's ROM, then discuss the game's vision and development goals with Asano. While the initially-agreed track number was between 20 and 30, the number of tracks almost doubled during production as Revo saw situations that needed their own music. Revo aimed for a nostalgic musical style, referencing the music and atmosphere of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and the SaGa series. During recording, tracks were given descriptive working titles, such as "Scene of Normal Battle" or "Song of Asterisk Holder Warfare". Multiple battle songs were created for the game, each having a faster tempo depending on the escalating battle situation. Revo's recording sessions were closely linked with the creation of the game's sound source, so the music would fit onto the 3DS' limited storage space without losing too much of its quality. Once the music was recorded, a sound environment was created so that it could be heard clearly through the 3DS system's speakers. While there were concerns about the 3DS cartridge's storage space limitations, these ultimately proved to be minimal.
Scenario and character design
The game's title represented the game's main theme of self-reliance: not blindly following the will of others, and following your own will. "Bravely" symbolized courage, while "Default" symbolized denial. The subtitle was one of many proposed by the team, and was chosen by Asano after it helped give an official name to the character Airy: prior to this point, she had gone unnamed and was generally referred to as a "Navi character". The subtitle was also a coded reference to Airy's true agenda and the game's deliberate removal from the Final Fantasy series. The key words created for the initial draft scenario were "large hole", referring to the Great Chasm beneath Norende, and "parallel world", which referred to the many versions of Luxendarc encountered by players during their journey. The greater majority of the main scenario and side quest storylines were fully voiced, with the main cast having a huge amount of dialogue compared to other characters. The summons were themed after classical elements, modern machinery and multiple world mythologies.
The game's script was written by Naotaka Hayashi, a staff writer at 5pb. whose most notable work at the time was visual novel Steins;Gate. After playing through Steins;Gate on the recommendation of another staff member, Asano decided that Hayashi would be able to create the appealing characters and surprising scenario needed for the story, and asked 5pb. if Hayashi could work on Bravely Default. Another reason Asano wanted Hayashi was due to the plot's heavy use of parallel worlds. Hayashi's work on the game involved creating the plot and character settings. While he wrote the majority of the game's dialogue, more detailed work was given to writers at Square Enix and Silicon Studio. One of the supplementary writers was Silicon Studio's Keiichi Ajiro, who wrote the contents of D's Notebook. Ajiro also created the initial story outline with Asano. The initial story concept was kept deliberately simple, but its complexity increased during the writing process. During his work, Hayashi was given guidelines by Square Enix about the characters and story: for instance, Asano wanted the heroes and villains to be equally compelling, along with raising the game's targeted age group. Something that Hayashi needed to remember during the writing process was the need to limit the length of dialogue segments. While visual novels had a high leeway for dialogue quantity, Asano would make requests such as a sentence being within a 22-character limit, and to not overrun into multiple dialogue boxes.
The main character designer and art director was Akihiko Yoshida, whose previous notable work included Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together. In contrast to much of his previous artwork, Yoshida created the game's artwork using a stronger design and coloring style. His artwork for Agnès was designed to represent her solitude and knowledge of her fate while also displaying cuteness and motherliness. Tiz's design was designed not to convey a strong personality, as he in part represented the player. For the game's environmental artwork, Yoshida drew on European children's literature. The in-game environments such as towns and the overworld were created using specially-drawn art mapped to a pseudo-3D layout. This style was meant to emulate classic picture books. Finalization of the art style took a long period, going through extensive trial and error. Designs for many of the secondary characters were handled by other artists: Atsushi Ōkubo, who had most notably worked on the manga Soul Eater, designed Einheria and the Valkyrie job outfits. Erutus Profiteur and the Merchant job designed by Hideki Ishikawa, whose work included character designs for Lord of Vermilion arcade game series. Kamiizumi and the Swordmaster job were designed by Dorin Makoto, who had most notably worked on the Sengoku Basara series. Red Mage Flore DeRossa and the Red Mage job was designed by Take, who worked on the Katanagatari light novel series. Qada and the Salve Maker job were designed by Midori Foo, an artist who had worked on multiple light novels and online games.
Bravely Default was first announced in September 2011 under its original Japanese title as part of Nintendo's 2012 lineup for the 3DS, alongside titles such as Monster Hunter 4 and Fire Emblem Awakening. Between February and September 2012, five different demos were released through Nintendo eShop. The first demo featured Agnès and demonstrated character control. The second, released in March, featured the character Tiz and town exploration. The third demo, released in June, showcased the battle system and introduced Edea. The fourth demo, released in August, featured the character Ringabel and demonstrated the job and character customization systems. The fifth and final demo, released in September, included features from all the previous demos and included elements such as Friend Summons, and the Abilink and Norende reconstruction social elements. With the release of the fifth demo, the sale of the other demos was discontinued. The demos were developed alongside the main game as stand-alone experiences taken from several points within the game. They also ended up providing the team with feedback for gameplay adjustments. Each demo included an AR movie featuring one of the main cast.
Bravely Default released on October 11, 2012. It was published by Square Enix. Along with the standard edition, Square Enix created a collector's edition for exclusive sale through their online store. The collector's edition featured an AR poster, a first print copy of the game's soundtrack, an art book, and a themed 3DS protective case. Downloadable content in the form of additional character costumes were made available both through promotional codes and post-release content. An updated edition of the game, titled Bravely Default: For the Sequel,[b] was announced in August 2013 in Weekly Shōnen Jump for a release on December 5 that year. For the Sequel was stated to have over a hundred different improvements and adjustments: these included additional save slots, additional difficulty levels, auto saving options, the addition of new subevent scenes, new gameplay elements such as the "Bravely Second" ability, and subtitles in multiple languages. Many of these alterations were based on questionnaires sent out by the company after the original version's release. According to staff, For the Sequel was intended as a "trial version" for its sequel, already in development after the success of Bravely Default.
Prior to any official announcement of its western release, Bravely Default was cited by multiple journalists as a game that should be localized for western markets. In October 2012, Asano stated that there were no plans to localize the game, but that fans should continue inquiring so that their wishes were made clear. A localization was officially announced in April 2013. Nintendo took charge of publishing duties overseas. The western version was based on the For the Sequel expanded version. It released in Europe on December 6, 2013. An earlier false report in Nintendo's financial report indicated that its European release would be in 2014, but this was later corrected by Nintendo of Europe. In Australia, it released on December 7. In North America, it released on February 7, 2014. Both in North America and the UK, a collector's edition was created including the soundtrack, an artbook, and over thirty AR cards. The UK edition also included a figurine of Agnès. It was also released in South Korea on April 16, although it was not localized into Korean, placing it in contrast with other Nintendo releases such as Shin Megami Tensei IV.
The localization itself was handled by Bill Black and his company Binari Sonori, whose previous work included Demons' Score for Square Enix and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade for Blizzard Entertainment. Another key staff member was Timothy Law, a localization editor from Square Enix who supervised the translation and voice recording for the title. An element of the localization that provided a challenge was creating a sense of wordplay equivalent with that used in the original Japanese. An example of this was the Performer job and its owner, the latter of which needed to have her first name adjusted while taking into consideration European gender perceptions. Another example from the dialogue was the need to create jokes that would not work in Japanese, such as Agnès commenting on finding a "lucky charm". The subtitle "Flying Fairy" was removed for the western release as it might have given a false impression of family-friendly content due to different cultural perceptions to Japan. The English voice actors were chosen to sound as similar as possible to their Japanese counterparts, and adjustments were made to characters through the actors' performances: these included making Ringabel more flirtatious, and adjusting Edea's growl of rage between language versions. The game uses both the English and Japanese dubs, along with subtitles in multiple languages. The Western localization of the game contains censorship related to some sexual material in the original game: the ages of the main characters were increased to no longer be underage by Western standards, with 15-year-olds being changed to be 18-year-olds, and two of the female playable characters' costumes were altered to make them less revealing.
The story was met with positive reviews. Famitsu was highly positive about the story, although the reviewers did not go into specifics. Edge Magazine called the narrative "rich and detailed", enjoying the twists put on the present genre tropes and the darker narrative elements despite the experience being undermined by the writing quality. Andrew Fitch of Electronic Gaming Monthly found the story and characters enjoyable, and in some cases "stellar", while Ben Moore of GameTrailers noted the story's aversion to take risks despite interesting twists, and found that it was bogged down by advanced foreshadowing of major plot twists. Game Informer's Jeff Marchiafava found the game's story and characters to be "rife with clichés", and called the dialogue "excessively wordy" despite the late-game developments improving on both aspects. Simon Parkin, writing for Eurogamer, found the story less "unusual" than other aspects, but praised its willingness to send itself up and enjoyed Hayashi's subtle subversion of genre tropes. GameSpot's John Robertson was fairly negative, saying that it started out poorly and never managed to throw off that initial impression. David Evans of IGN praised the characters for their strength, but found that the story's pacing struggled at times. Danielle Riendeau of Polygon, despite finding many characters appealing, called the story "more like a pastiche of tropes than its own unique take [on the genre]". Chandra Nair of Official Nintendo Magazine called story and character development "extremely impressive", while Bradly Halestorm of Hardcore Gamer found the story to be solid and the main cast enjoyable. Alex Fuller of RPGamer found the main cast quite enjoyable, praising their Party Chat interactions, and enjoyed the story despite its initial overly straightforward premise.
The gameplay was praised overall. The Edge reviewer greatly enjoyed the deceptively simple Bravely and Default mechanics despite a run time they described as "bloated". Fitch likewise enjoyed the gameplay mechanics, but found the social elements to be less successful despite not actively irritating him. Moore praised the battle system and implementation of the Job system, although the latter necessitated grinding to unlock its full value. He also praised the ability to adjust encounter rates and battle speed, and positively noted the social features as engaging secondary activities. Marchiafava found that the battle and Job systems held up throughout the entire game, and like Moore found the social systems enjoyable. Nair was positive about the depth and strategy the gameplay opened up, despite criticizing the number of options increasing the amount of time spent in battle. Both Evans and Robertson praised the battle system and general gameplay, with Robertson calling the former innovative within the genre. Riendeau found that the battle system's depth and quality gave her feelings of elation when she successfully killed opponents, but also saw the need to grind for experience emerging during the later stages of the game negatively impacted the experience. Parkin referred to the Bravely and Default systems as the game's "central - and brilliant - conceit". Fuller, while finding the microtransactions a "waste of money", he greatly enjoyed the battle mechanics and multiple user-friendly features. Halestorm shared the positive opinions of other reviewers on the battle system, alongside praising the game's amount and quality of content. Many reviewers positively compared the gameplay and style to earlier Final Fantasy games. Multiple western reviewers commented negatively on the repetitive late-game section.
The graphics and presentation garnered mixed to positive opinions. Famitsu praised the game's graphics, while Edge admired the art style and monster design, and was glad that the hardware limitations faced by The 4 Heroes of Light were not present in Bravely Default. Marchiafava called the graphics "beautiful" and praised the soundtrack, though called the English voice acting "hit or miss". Fuller was less impressed by the visuals, but found the music to be excellent . Halestorm, while he did not think the graphics were the best to be found on the 3DS, praised their stylized appearance and the well-executed 3D effect, and called the soundtrack "downright hypnotizing". Nair praised the game's audio despite little variety in the musical score, and called its visuals "gorgeous". Evens praised the character art for its "simple and striking" appearance, and its stylized background artwork. Riendeau commented that the game's aesthetic kept her invested when the story failed to do so. Parkin referred to the background artwork as "like nothing else". Robertson referred to the game's art style as "striking and engaging".
In its debut week, Bravely Default topped gaming charts with sales of 141,529 units, noted as being an impressive debut for a new game. It had a sell-through rate of over 85%. Its sales and sell-through rate were notably higher than those of its predecessor The 4 Heroes of Light. By late January 2013, shipments and eventually sales of the game reached 300,000 copies in Japan. For the Sequel debuted at #8 in gaming charts, selling 35,617 units. By 2014, For the Sequel had sold 59,300 units, making it the 160th best-selling game of that year. In North America, Bravely Default met with strong debut sales, reaching #10 in NPD Group's sales charts and selling 200,000 copies. In July 2014, it was reported that Bravely Default had sold one million copies worldwide: 400,000 units were sold in Japan, while 600,000 were sold overseas.
Famitsu awarded the game its "Rookie Award" at its 2012 Awards event, while it received the 2012 Dengeki Online Consumer Award, the latter award being given while beating Persona 4 Golden (2nd) and Rune Factory 4 (3rd). At the Japan Game Awards, it received the Future Game Award in 2012 and the Excellence Award in 2013. It later won GameSpot's 3DS Game of the Year 2014 award. At the 2014 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards Bravely Default was nominated for the Game, Original Role Playing category. It was ranked by both IGN and GameSpot as one of the best games on the 3DS in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
The game's success, which went against what Square Enix assumed would happen due to the title's identity as a traditional role-playing game, prompted them to reconsider their strategy for game making, which up to that point had been geared towards developing titles tailored for western markets rather than focusing on the Japanese market. According to the developers, none of them believed that the game would be released overseas, and were overwhelmed by the positive fan feedback they had received. A manga titled Bravely Default: Flying Fairy began serialization online through Famitsu. Two compilation volumes were released in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Two supplementary books, released under the title Bravely Default: The Pocketbook of R,[c] were released in December 2013. In addition to this, two drama CDs containing supplementary stories were released through 2013 and 2014. Music from the game was featured Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as DLC.
A browser game spin-off titled Bravely Default: Praying Brage,[d] began an open beta on November 11, 2012. Developed by NHN Hangame, Praying Brage takes place 200 years after the original game, and includes a new cast of characters aligned to four forces themed after Luxendarc's elemental crystals. Another spin-off, Bravely Archive: D's Report, was released for mobile devices on January 22, 2015. Like Praying Brage, it was set far in the future, followed an alternate scenario stemming from the events of Bravely Default, and featured characters from Praying Brage. By August of that year, D's Report had reached over four million downloads. A sequel was confirmed as being in development as early as 2013. The new game, Bravely Second: End Layer, was officially announced in December 2013. It released in Japan in 2015 and overseas in 2016. In an interview with Japanese magazine Dengeki, Asano said that he would ideally like to release a new Bravely game every year.
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- ブレイブリーデフォルト フライングフェアリー, Bureiburī Deforuto: Furaingu Fearī
- ブレイブリーデフォルト フォーザ・シークウェル, Bureiburī Deforuto: Fōza Shīkuweru
- ブレイブリーデフォルト Rの手帳, Bureiburī Deforuto: Aru no Techō
- ブレイブリーデフォルト プレイングブレージュ, Bureiburī Deforuto: Pureingu Burēju
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- Official website (in Japanese)
- Official website for Bravely Default: For The Sequel (in Japanese)
- Official North American website