Brave Story: New Traveler – Staff Review

The basic structure of the traditional fantasy RPG is well established. Take one part youthful hero, add in one cheery female lead, one musclebound tank, and one wacky mage. Stir in knights, dragons, a mad god bent on destroying the world, and a hero gaining maturity and wisdom by way of a journey across the world. Incorporating all these clich├ęs and more, Brave Story: New Traveler is about as typical an RPG as one could hope to see. The supremely predictable story is complemented by an equally traditional turn-based combat system. This system does have a few interesting ideas, but they are implemented in such a way that the combat system still plays very much the same as any other bare-bones turn-based system. On the positive side, the characters in the story are at least somewhat engaging, and the game does present a reasonably well-balanced, faithfully executed traditional RPG. The game’s severe lack of originality makes Brave Story: New Traveler an incredibly predictable and somewhat dull journey, but it may at least appeal to gamers looking for a very short old-school romp.

Brave Story takes place in the world of Vision, a land created by the Goddess of Fate. The Goddess regularly summons people from our world to Vision in order to test them with a journey across the world. Should these Travelers complete the journey and collect five sacred gemstones, Fate will grant their deepest wish. Brave Story follows the adventures of a Traveler named Tatsuya, who journeys in order to save a close friend who has fallen into a mysterious coma. Along the way, Tatsuya will meet up with a cast of characters that fits neatly into well-established fantasy RPG pigeonholes, from the hulking physical tank with an axe, to the arrogant mage with a heart of gold. Most of the cast receives little in the way of actual development, and what little they do get comes as no surprise. The overarching story lacks a consistent theme, with most of the game being spent aiding random cities in whatever issue they happen to have at the moment. Near the end of the tale, Brave Story attempts a minor theme on the interdependent nature of Light and Dark, but it’s too little too late. Brave Story‘s plot may appeal to gamers who enjoy a highly traditional fantasy RPG, but for everyone else, the game’s lack of a coherent message and overall predictability may present a serious impediment to enjoyment.

Take a drink every time you see a cliche!

The tale’s translation is one of its high points, the overall tone going some way towards livening up the otherwise dull story. The sarcastic sense of humor presented by the translation helps brighten up an otherwise very straightforward story. The game’s interface is otherwise unremarkable, effective but nothing worth writing home about.

The game’s combat system is a fairly basic turn-based RPG with a few minor tweaks. In Brave Story, special attacks are referred to as Bravura Skills and require Brave Points to use. Attacks of all kinds restore the attacking character’s BP, usually to the point where Bravura skills end up actually costing very little. A Bravura skill that connects with more than two foes can actually restore more BP than it uses, leading to a somewhat unbalanced combat system. Managing BP is one of the more interesting points of the combat system, but overall, it isn’t too terribly different from a basic MP system. The game attempts to spice things up a little with Unity skills, which require two or three characters to use and which restore only the BP of the character who initiates the skill, but Unity Skills don’t do much to change the overall flow of combat. In many cases, it’s a better idea to use less powerful Bravura Skills than to waste the BP on a Unity Skill which will be only slightly more powerful. In the end, Brave Story‘s combat system takes a fairly basic system and embellishes it slightly, leading to a system which is easy to use, but so predictable as to be mind-numbing at times.

With a track list full of bright, upbeat themes, Brave Story‘s soundtrack provides much of what personality Vision possesses. Relying fairly heavily on bright, speedy brass and strings to give it life, the soundtrack doesn’t have a strong musical style, which leads to a bit of a disconnect between individual tracks. The relatively small number of tracks may have something to do with this, but the overall effect is that some of the tracks feel isolated and out of place, while others fit together rather strongly. The voice acting is less inconsistent, with most of the actors fitting their roles fairly well. The only real problem is the clipped nature of some of the voice tracks, which seem to end well before they should, leading to quotes like, “You asked!”

Though the soundtrack is largely upbeat and cheerful, the game’s visual style is highly subdued. With only a fairly small palette of earth tones, Brave Story‘s visuals often have problems with a lack of contrast, leading to a style that is far too homogenous to be effective. Even the reds and blues tend to be toned down, with the few bright colors that the game uses seeming garish by comparison. Character design suffers from some of the same lack of originality as the plot, and the game overall has problems presenting a coherent overall visual style. The overuse of some fairly overused effects doesn’t help much either. In particular, the use of comic book-style onomatopoeia whenever an attack connects comes off as unnecessarily repetitive and slightly goofy considering the look of the rest of the game. However, the visuals are at least solid on a technical level. Animation is smooth, and the game plays more or less free of slowdown or excessive load times.

Some of the sidequests get a bit odd.

Brave Story runs through its plotline rather quickly, eventually coming in at twenty to thirty hours of actual gameplay, though the huge number of sidequests could nearly double that time for the patient gamer. Given the simple combat system and the ease of regenerating BP, an experienced gamer can expect to breeze through the game without much trouble. This is especially true given that individual levels are given more than average weight, to the point where just one level can drastically increase the amount of damage a character will absorb before dying.

As most of the game is made up of ideas and themes that have been used and re-used since the 16 bit era of gaming, Brave Story: New Traveler has a great deal of trouble setting itself apart. With a cast that fits every definition of RPG cliche moving in a generic fantasy world, accompanied by an equally predictable and somewhat unbalanced combat system, Brave Story is a game that will appeal mostly to gamers looking for a reminder of a younger era of gaming.



2 Comments

  1. Jeffrey of Doom:

    “The overuse of some fairly overused effects”
    ^I lol’d.

    Can’t say I’m too surprised by the review / score. I personally love the game, but then DQVIII makes me swoon with joy. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the worst part of the whole thing, though: bird collecting >_

  2. Michael Beckett:

    Oops. ^^;

    Also, I pretty much ignored the birds as soon as I found out it was out of my control and in the hands of some pretty dense AI.

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