Bravely Default II’s new demo results from both fans and developers working together to create a product everyone can enjoy. This demo for the upcoming turn-based JRPG is aesthetically similar to the original that launched earlier this year. Still, there is far more quality to sink your teeth into this time around.
The first noteworthy aspect regarding Bravely Default II’s demo is that, unfortunately, it is timed. Players have a total of 5 hours to play, with the game kicking them out once time has run out. Still, you are rewarded with 2 additional hours once you complete all the story content. Regardless, I found its timed nature to just be unnecessary and detract from the focus some players could have.
There is quite a significant chunk of story cutscenes present. While the context for many events and the main cast are not provided in a detailed manner, there is definitely more than enough substance here to give players an idea of the types of characters the main cast are and their relationships to one another. Granted, some combinations of characters had basically no personal exchanges, but this is just a demo, and I was impressed by the characterization present. Voice acting for the English dub is solid and full of charm. I was pleasantly surprised to see the sidequest events fully voiced as well, which provided an even stronger sense of immersion for the setting.
Speaking of the setting, despite its brief run time, this demo does a fantastic job of establishing an eerie, sinister mood. The villains were mostly comedically evil, but there was always something rotten occurring behind the scenes that made every interaction feel meaningful and ominous. Personally, I would have really liked the demo to feature a different setting from the last, but that’s just a minor gripe.
Gameplay-wise, there are a great number of changes to be observed. Some of which was announced by the developer before launch. One of the most significant changes that immediately became apparent to me was the enemy speed on the maps being drastically reduced. I recall the enemy speed being a massive annoyance in the initial demo, so seeing it reduced here was an extremely welcome change, I must say.
It made navigating dungeons and the world map less of a chore and generally more enjoyable. Now in regards to difficulty, this felt far fairer than the initial one. The bosses present were challenging, but they never felt obscenely difficult or unfair. There was clearly a dramatic overhaul on this title’s difficulty and approachability, which I highly appreciate. Turn orders are also now featured, well, sort of. While there is no traditional turn bar on the side of the screen, there are gauges beneath the characters’ UI dictating the speed and order at which they will act.
The demo’s story took me around 3 hours to complete, and I left the game on while I was away for way longer than I should have. Once completed, players are awarded 2 extra hours of playtime, as well as, surprisingly, more content. Aside from exploring the world a bit more, there is also a brand new character by the name of Shirley, who introduces players to the card game B ‘n’ D. This minigame was simple to learn and a fun little time-waster. I’m excited to see its complexity grow in the full game.
Overall, this new demo of Bravely Default II has reinforced my hype for the full release next year. The world, cast, combat, and side activities were all entertaining to witness and play around with, and I have a strong feeling this game will be one of 2021’s strongest titles.
Bravely Default II is releasing on February 26, 2021, for Nintendo Switch.
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