The Bravely series is a video game franchise published by Square Enix. It is a turn-based Japanese role-playing game series set on the fantasy world of Luxendarc, with recurring gameplay elements like a job system (mostly inherited from the Final Fantasy franchise) and the unique "Brave/Default" and "Bravely Second" battle mechanics (not found in Final Fantasy). The series has been distributed on many platforms, beginning with the Nintendo 3DS, and including web browsers and mobile operating systems.
The series' first game, Bravely Default, was originally conceived as a Nintendo 3DS sequel to the Final Fantasy spin-off Nintendo DS game The 4 Heroes of Light; although ultimately it had all its characters/locations renamed and acquired a unique title (so as to be perceived as a brand-new IP), it still retained elements like the traditional storyline of crystals and the Warriors of Light and the traditional job system gameplay (with modifications like incorporating an asterisk system used to acquire and change jobs).
This game spawned a free-to-play web browser game, Bravely Default: Praying Brage, and a sequel, Bravely Second: End Layer (also released for the 3DS). Another game called Bravely Archive, was released in Japan targeting mobile devices in January 2015. Another mobile title called Bravely Default: Fairy's Effect was released in Japan on March 23, 2017.
The Bravely series usually puts the player in control of multiple characters in a party, at least in the core 3DS games. The player will build the party's strength by gradually acquiring new abilities, equipment, and jobs to handle more powerful opponents. In the core games this task extends beyond the main story with challenging superbosses and bonus dungeons serving as optional tests of skill. Many installments involve frequent use of menus to select items, skills and upgrades.
The battle system is primarily menu-based with a variant of the traditional turn-based combat, where the player and the enemy party take turns executing commands (without relying on time). Instanced battles are based on random encounters while roaming the world map and dungeons. Battle commands feature a basic physical attack with the equipped weapon(s), special command abilities (such as magic and summoning) enabled by the job system, and a set of items, though the player may also try to flee from many normal encounters.
The characters have an HP and MP stat, where HP determines the damage characters can take before they are KO'd while MP determines how many spells or other abilities a character can use. Games also feature elements and status effects, nuances which can affect the course of a battle, with enemies and allies using them to attack and exploit each other's weaknesses and/or to defend themselves, as well as to prepare for an upcoming encounter.
The core games also use a system of stocked points called "BP" (Brave Points) which characters use to gain extra turns. Every character has a personal set of BP. The "Default" command skips a turn to stock a BP, and the "Brave" command uses that BP to move up to four times. Players can drop into up to -4 negative BP, which will result in a combo of turns; subsequently enemies receive multiple turns in a row until BP returns to 0.
Character growth determines how player characters learn new abilities and boost their stats. The leveling game mechanic allows characters to raise their level through experience points earned in battle to improve stats. The job system allows players to assign characters a job, choosing from Black Mage, White Mage, Monk and Thief, among many others; the character's job determines their base abilities and the stats gained and is leveled up by gaining JP (Job Points) accumulated from battles, allowing characters to learn new abilities that are retained even after switching jobs.
Characters can equip armor, weapons and accessories, where armor provides defensive boosts, weapons determine the strength and type of the attacks used, and accessories provide various supporting abilities or bonuses. Some of these armor, weapons and accessories are optimized for certain jobs, being ranked from S (for best) to E (for worst) for each acquired job.
Outside of battles, the player can explore the field for items, dialog with non-player characters, and for trading in pg for items and gear. The party will encounter an enemy randomly while exploring dangerous areas (though abilities to reduce the encounter rate can be learned through jobs).
The player can explore dungeons where enemies are fought and treasures and items can be found. Enemies tend to be more numerous in dungeons, and there is often a boss at the end. Other areas are safe havens, notably towns, which contain shops for the party to buy new items and equipment, and often an inn to rest at and fully restore HP and MP. Many games feature a world map used to traverse on foot or via vehicles like airships. World maps have random encounters and are crossed to reach other points of interest in the world, often with mountains and oceans and other impassable objects placed to ward off areas the player is not meant to visit yet; by end game players acquire a vehicle that allows exploration of every nook of the world.
The spin-offs' gameplay can deviate a lot from the main series. While spin-offs tend to include gameplay fundamentals, if only in abilities and ability names, many stick to role-playing game elements. Many spin-offs have been released on mobile platforms that use simplified forms of typical battle systems, such as Bravely Default: Fairy's Effect.
The Bravely series' settings are primarily traditional fantasy with some science fantasy in it. Each game takes place on the world of Luxendarc, where humans are the dominant sapient species. This world features Crystals that are magical phenomena fundamental to the elements of the world. The settings contain elements based on real-world mythology, and the series features many allusions to religion.
The series' most basic plots revolve around the cast fighting an antagonist who aims to destroy or conquer the world while coping with their own struggles. The characters are often part of a small resistance against one or more larger powers, and each tend to have different motivations within their own groups. There is a sense of desperation, as the characters fight for everything they hold dear.
A key plot point is the Crystals. Luxendarc features four, each representing the four elements, and without them the world would deteriorate. The Crystal-theme can be said to be the overarching theme of the series, as the traditional plot involves an antagonistic force trying to make use of the Crystals' power with the player power in opposition, chosen to enact their will.