Today, I am reviewing Brave Frontier, a free to play role playing game made by A-Lim for Windows 8.1 and 10, iOS, and Android. It’s available in Japan, Europe, and the rest of the world (referred to as Global). Normally, I don’t put much time into F2P games. However, this one is, in my eyes, exceptional mostly because you can go through the entire game without putting a dime into it and have a real gaming experience. This review is for the Global version of the game. Some of this information varies in the European and Japanese versions.
Let’s start with the way the game looks and sounds. Visually, it is heavily influenced from the popular JPRG games of the 90s such as Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series, Valkyrie Profile, Star Ocean, Romancing SaGa, and Namco’s Tales series. The art and visual effects of battle are far more detailed than I was expecting, since I was introduced to the game on my phone. Truth be told, it was the background music of the various areas that intrigued me to play further. You can’t help but admire the level of detail that the artist has gone through for these units. Some of the designs are a bit much, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a JRPG.
In this game, you are a summoner. Summoners call upon the souls of beings that have lived previously and bind them to their will (which is referred to as a unit). You are then called forth by the God of the Gate named Lucius. He asks you to defeat the four fallen Gods, named Maxwell, Zevalhua, Afla Dilith, and Cardes, who are focused on destroying all humans. Lucius has sealed off these gods in various areas of their world called Grand Gaia in which he allows you to pass though. After you enter your name and meet Lucius’ disciple named Tilith, you go through a short tutorial with her. You’re then presented with the home screen, where you have the choices of going through the Quest, which is essentially the story mode of the game, the Vortex Gate which houses special dungeons for gathering material for crafting items or evolving your summoned units, Raid Battle, Imperial Capital Randall which houses special areas for crafting, rewards, and challenges, or Arena which is PvP.
Each region has an energy requirement to start battle in one of the areas there. Every time you level, your energy is refilled along with your arena orbs and raid orbs. When you clear an area, you receive a gem. There’s a LOT of areas to go through. The Grand Gaia area has 8 regions alone with half of them being divided into three distinct sections. That’s approximately 7 gems per area not counting bonus areas. Gems are also given out more during Frontier Hunter season which occurs monthly. If you run out of energy, it refills at the rate of 1 per every 3 minutes. You can still craft items; you just won’t be able to battle anything. Gems are pretty much freely available, but in a controlled manner. Since the company does want to make money, there will be plenty of promotions to tempt you into buying gems. However, there’s events monthly that give free gems, logging in consecutively for 5 days in a row will give you a free gem, doing daily tasks and accumulating points give you gems, if you watch Gumi’s live streams they tend to give promotional codes for free items and sometimes gems, hitting certain acheivments in game and setting specific records gives you a lot of gems and items, and the list goes on. Gumi seems to genuinely want you to have a good experience playing the game as does A-lim. I have no problem spending a little money on a game that’s well made and makes sure it’s premium and F2P users are taken care of.
Units are either Lightning, Earth, Fire, Water, Light, Dark. Light and Dark are both strong against and weak against each other where as lightning is weak to earth, which is weak to fire, and so on. Each unit also is one of 5 types: Anima (+HP, -Recovery), Lord (no stat increases or decreases), Breaker (+Attack, -Defense), Guardian (+Defense, -Recovery), and Oracle (+Recovery, -Defense), all similar to the natures of Pokemon. As of the most recent update on September 27th 2015, it is now debatable that unit types isn’t as important anymore since they revamped it to be more balanced. Units have evolutions up to 7 stars. Every 1 star unit has a 2 star evolution. However, not every 2 has a 3, not every 3 has a 4, and so on. All of the starting units have a 7 star form and they’re pretty powerful. Selena may or may not be one of the best starter units.
Summoning a unit is done via the summon menu at the bottom right of the home screen. Depending on which version of the game you play and whatever promotions they have going at that time, you may have multiple summon gates there. Gems are needed for the rare summons and honor points are needed for the honor summon gate. Generally speaking, the best units come from the rare summon gate and you can get the other starter units from the honor summon gate only. You have no control over the units you summon. Let me repeat that, you have NO control over the units you summon. RNGesus will bestow upon you whatever unit it sees fit for you to have. Random be thy game. Amen.
Since gameplay is the meat and potatoes of a game, let’s dig in! The game is turn based just like the JRPGs of the 90s. You can have 5 units on your team and one of these units designated as the leader. The unit you choose to be the leader on your team will have their leader skill activated for the entire team. When you enter an area for battle, you get to choose a friend as a helper unit with their leader skill active along with yours or a non-friend as a sub-unit and no leader skill activated. Each unit has what’s called a Brave Burst. After collecting a certain amount of battle crystals, which are dropped by enemies as you hit them, the bar for your Brave Burst (can also be called Limit Break, Super Move, Special, etc) increases. Activating your Brave Burst deals massive damage to enemies, provides support for your team, or healing for your team depending on the type of unit you have. Some units provide your team HP and attack bonuses or increases. Your team of summoned units always goes first followed by the enemy’s turn. When you beat an enemy, theres a chance you will capture them. If you do, you can use them on your team or sacrifice them to another unit to level them up. Some particularly strong bosses and enemies can attack up to 5 times in one turn. If you aren’t prepared, you’ll take a beating like you stole something from them. But that doesn’t happen until the later areas of the game. If your team wipes and you don’t use a gem to revive them all, the only thing you lose is the materials and/or units you captured in that stage.
There are three different levels you need to be concerned about. Your level, your units’ levels, and the level of the Brave Burst of your units. You yourself gain exp from battle. Your units only gain exp and levels when you sacrifice other units to them through fusion. Fusion is also how your level your units Brave Burst. Same type units have a chance to level the brave burst once per same type unit. When you level up, your total cost for your team increases. Cost is what you need to have stronger units on your team as the cost for strong units is usually fairly high. The spheres you equip to your units are very important. I won’t get into the math of using spheres to increase attack as there is a subreddit for that (and it gets intense, I warn you) as well as other forums, sites, and Facebook groups. But just know that they can make your unit OK or make it fanfreakingtastic. Also, you can gather imps in the game to increase the stats of your units which provide a huge advantage in some boss fights as well as the arena.
The Raid Battle system in this game is unique and tries to connect the players to work together. As of the writing of this article, there are 5 raid classes and you receive medals for completing a raid mission. The medals can be used in the slot machine to gain items. There are also special drops that can only be obtained from harvesting in raid areas and as drops from finishing the raid. Up to four players can be in one raid room and the leader initializes the start of the raid. As you do damage to the boss, which may or may not be clearly marked on the map, the game gives you updates on what status effects and damage the other members in your raid group are doing to the boss. You gain exp, karma, and honor points depending on how much you contributed to the raid. What? What’s karma? Oh, it’s used to make spheres. I wouldn’t worry about that because you get so much karma that you might find yourself trading a lot of it in for achievement points. Anyway, Raid Battle is one of the more interesting areas of the game as it’s probably the most interaction you’ll get with other players with some choosing to request you to be their friend. You can also see what kind of setup they have for their raid team to give you ideas.
The makers of Brave Frontier have their hearts in the right place for the game for sure. They made sure that, overall, the players will be able to experience every aspect of the game without there being a giant gap between players who will purchase gems and those who are on a budget. It’s designed to keep you busy as a side game and not a main game, but is still very enjoyable nonetheless and has the potential to be a main game as more content is released for sure. The characters are also likable. I’m sure you’ll find that at least one of the characters has a personality of someone you know.
For presentation, I give it a score of 93. I like the way it looks and plays, but some of the art of the characters has so much going on that you have to look for a little while to really tell where the head or eyes of it are. The gameplay category gets a 90. The battle system is great and follows the style of the classic JRPGs very well, but the energy limitation and cost limitation may frustrate some players. Especially if they reach a particular boss that they know they can beat, but lack the cost to put the unit on their team to do it. Sound gets a solid 100 from me. I’ve never heard such fantastic music in a game like this in a long time. I listen to it outside of the game and people ask me, “who is the artist on this song? It’s wonderful.” Notable areas for music are The Land of Giants, Tower of Light, boss fights with one of the fallen gods, and Sea Captain Almeria. If you can find the OST (only in Japan), I highly recommend purchasing it. In terms of value, if you every find yourself with extra money and there is a bundle promotion going on, I would say that’s the best time to buy gems. There’s a lot of value in that! But, seeing as how you don’t have to spend money to advance, there’s value there too! I would give it a 94 in that area. It’ll be slower, but such is the nature of F2P games. Thankfully, this one isn’t pay-to-win.