Game Diary: Bravely Default, The Walking Dead: Season 2

March 22, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 8.56.06 PM(Image: Zerochan.net)

[[ Spoilers for both games; you’ve been warned! ]]

[[ Especially if you have not awakened all the crystals in Bravely Default! ]]

Braev(Lee) Bravely Default

I’m stuck in a loop with Bravely Default. (Hurr, get it?) As in I start playing for an hour on weekends, then a couple hours, then I put it down to do chores and eat and/or head outside, and then I pick it up again the moment I’m home. I’m extremely curious in where the story is heading, and where it will end.

I should be absolutely livid at the amount of time the game teases out in having you traverse the same old stomping grounds and watch your party unthinkingly catapult into slightly varied, yet always heated exchanges about Crystalism. But I’m not. I watch every insipid Party Chat, pore over every page of whomever’s diary, and leave no sidequest unturned. As someone who often glosses over game lore, I have no idea why I feel compelled to do so. Perfect storm of complex characters and compelling mechanics (so many strategies to try! Do you play it safe and default often; or do you brave and blitz like crazy? Do you feel lucky, punk? Do you? [Well hopefully not, since Luck isn’t a stat in Bravely Default, iirc!]).

It’s strangely rewarding to see growth — even if it’s extremely orchestrated, nonbranching story — in your characters and the cast of NPCs, and not just the numbers behind them. The differences in each world iteration propels my curiosity to a point where I feel like I need to know more and want all the answers. Some characters become more repulsive, others more likeable, and a few confound entirely. A merry-go-round of JRPG stereotypes you thought you knew but shift slightly with each turn.

But why wouldn’t you want to interact with the asterisk-holders again? They typically have something of interest to add, and while they’re not too challenging (with a few obvious exceptions — DeRosso!). And when Alternis’ loses his helmet for the first time, how can you not return to the journal?

The least interesting aspect is the required quests: awakening the crystals. After all the intricate planning in the battle system and character development, we’re just going to button-mash the crystals back to life? I guess that’s better than something gimmicky like having to blow into the 3DS microphone and perform some sort of embarrassing electronics CPR when playing in public or on the subway. The core of the game seems hollow but the rest is so vibrant.

Which makes me wonder how others experience Bravely Default. Surely, not everyone is an OCD-level completionist as I. Don’t the unturned stones bug you? Do you find Bravely Default engaging still after forgoing the extra story? I bet it saves a lot of time to skimp on sidequests (especially the third time through!). Or is it more of a rote grind-fest to the end of the world?

This is probably overthinking it, but Bravely Default seems to happily poke fun at other JRPGs — yay, we saved the world, isn’t that swell, now let’s travel onward to more adventures, again and again and oops we screwed up, better get back to it, again and again and again. The world always needs saving. Or does it?

/// SIDENOTE ///

Bravely Default has some clever wordplay in many character names, but I think the Lee family names are my favorite: Braev (bravely), Mahzer (motherly), and Edea (ideally). Now only if they could get along.

Favorite part of the journal entries:

“It’s our fault. We were tasked with banding together and protecting it, but we lost the concert. Bridge. Whatever.”

/// END SIDENOTE ///

The Walking Dead: Season 2 (finished)

the-walking-dead-game-season-2-episode-2-screenshot

You’re terribly alone, despite being surrounded by people (who will relegate all the fun tasks like attacking zombies with a hammer or checking out abandoned buildings to you). (Image: Videogameblogger.com)

It’s not like season 2 has been without its memorable moments and surprises (omg that dog in episode 1! Or sewing yourself back together! Or they didn’t kill Kenny! Or holy crap, Matt is definitely not coming back!), but I’m not connecting with it the same way I did in season 1. Maybe it’s because most of the mystery is gone — it’s a downright terrifying world out there, and everyone and anyone will stab you in the back. Oh, and everything will always go wrong.

Maybe it’s because I’m no longer protecting one person in particular? Focusing on keeping Clem safe by playing as her feels much different from when I made decisions for her as Lee, directly or indirectly. Do not misunderstand — I love that Clem is such a strong character with grit to spare. (Almost too strong, right? Hardly phased by the atrocities around her. It’s just terrifying trying to keep an 11 year old safe by myself, with no one other character so invested in protecting her. I feel alone and uneasy the entire time. But that’s why we play this series, isn’t it?

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