Turn-based JRPGs are inundated with quirky holdouts from a bygone era of gaming; random encounters, slow turn-based combat with long animations that make fights unnecessarily long, the need for excessive battling of uninteresting trash enemies just to gain enough experience to trudge through the next boss fight, and long overly complicated stories that often make no sense. Bravely Default 2 takes each of these truly awful pieces of the JRPG genre and turns them into fun and engaging mechanics! It takes the tired old formula of the classic JRPG and modernizes it with some innovative mechanics. It’s the same old tools with a modern twist. Which is exactly what you can do with your writing: incorporate the same old writing tools creatively to produce a unique style.
In Bravely Default 2, you command a party of four people that all have the same relative stat baseline. Every character is perfectly capable to perform in whatever job—the class that each character can be assigned that determines their abilities and stats—you assign to that character. If you want a party of four stupidly aggressive in your face, all offense no defense barbarians, then by all means go ahead. If you want a party of unkillable juggernauts, the canvas is yours to discover.
The depth and variety in the game comes from the wealth of different jobs and abilities that the player unlocks as they play through the game. And forget about spending inordinate amounts of time grinding to level up those jobs, because clever use of the game mechanics allows a player to gain enough experience to max out job levels in only a few battles. Game animations in battles too long for you? Hit the fast-forward button to make all animations go 4x as fast. Everything annoying and mundane about JRPGs is turned on its head to make the game more fun and engaging. Grinding is a joy because of how fulfilling it is to experiment with new party builds in order to create the most efficient killing machines possible. Just look at this build I made! *Start battle with Adele dropping in and clearing the mob instantly. Do that a few times.* Instant death before the battle even starts.
The game gives you all the tools you need to create your own fulfilling gameplay experience. You can play the game at whatever pace you deem appropriate. You can take your time to make every move count or you can spam the attack command every turn and hit for over 2k damage on each enemy. If you like the in-depth strategy to a turn based JRPG, this game is for you. If you like to just mash the A button until the numbers get really high, this games for you. If you just enjoy the stories of a JRPG, set the difficulty on Easy, and cruise through every bit of fully voice-acted charm. Though the player has no control over the story, they’re a part of, they have complete control over the gameplay. Bravely Default 2 is truly a play it your way kind of game.
Now that I’ve tricked you into consuming my review of Bravely Default 2, I can convince you I actually know a thing or two about writing. Look, I have some credibility. I’ve been speaking, reading, and writing English my whole life. Every waking moment I spend either writing stories, consuming stories, or critiquing stories. It’s a curse I can’t shake. So, when I say that the job mechanic in Bravely Default 2 is just like the technical side of writing, I’m not just blowing smoke.
Let’s get really down and dirty for a moment and talk about something really exciting; Grammar.
Bravely Default 2 parties are built using jobs that fall into one of four basic class archetypes: tank, mage, support, and fighter; much like the structures of a sentence. A sentence is built using words and all words fall can be categorized into a part of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, conjunction, preposition, and interjection. When you put together specific combinations of the job archetypes on your characters, you create functioning parties that will massacre the enemy. When you put together specific combinations of words, you create functioning sentences that will clearly communicate your ideas.
Grammar definitely isn’t the first thing you think about when you recall your favorite stories, but a well-constructed story requires creative and effective use of grammar to communicate its ideas effectively. If you can learn and understand how to weave dependent clauses inside of independent clauses—and then throw in separate thoughts using punctuation—you can truly make your thoughts a reality. A deep understanding of grammar will grant you a tool to let your audience peer into your mind and not only see the madness within, but understand it. One of the best resources I’ve found for learning better use of grammar is “Elements of Style” by William Strunk Jr. It’s an older book, but the teachings throughout are solid. The target audience for the text was to college aged native English speakers. So, don’t get discouraged if you don’t grasp it the first time around. It took me a couple of reads to wrap my head around the ideas. Even with the guide I still have to use grammar aids to help construct my sentences and in clear language.
As you progress in Bravely Default 2, you unlock more jobs and more options to build your party. Each job bends the archetype they fall into, but the archetypes still hold true. Just as the characters gain experience, we to as story tellers, must gain experience. Through the expanding of our vocabulary. The more words you know, the more creative you can be with those words. That doesn’t mean you go throwing around massive words that no one will understand. What it means is that you’ll know what words to use to convey the idea you’re trying to express. Typically, the simpler you can express an idea, the better. That is something I’m terrible at, but I’m working on it. I’m long winded, wordy, and never get to the point. Sometimes that’s good, like when I need to lengthen out a scene in a story to slow down the pacing. Other times, not so much, like when I’m trying to explain to my wife the plot to Konosuba, and I instead end up giving her a lecture on the isekai genre.
The English language is wrought with tools to used to express your ideas. Words build sentences that build paragraphs that build stories. Take a dive into Bravely Default 2 and experience the wonderful creativity you can express in the job system. The wealth of options available through abilities, sub-jobs, and job abilities make the game so satisfying to play. I’ve spent hours testing party compositions and grinding job points just to get specific abilities. I’ve also spent countless hours reading and studying English just so I can decide whether I should use large or enormous. Perhaps massive would work? What about gargantuan? Why not Brobdingnagian?
Learning how to use these tools effectively will elevate your stories. Not only will they be easier to understand, but they’ll also have more style. The more you know about these tools, the better your audience can understand your ideas, and the more unique your voice will become.