Brave Frontier is an arena combat title masquerading as a JRPG—one that immediately accosts your senses with seizure-inducing graphics and more on-screen statistics than the folks at NASDAQ could ever parse. This game is what you’d get by throwing a bunch of Pokemon and Final Fantasy characters into an 8-bit ring. Elemental damage? Check. Wide-eyed and overly expressive character portraits? Check. A limit break bar that fills up to the point where you can finally unleash holy doom upon your enemies? Check. Childish character names like “Sparky” and “Gloomy”, you got it.
In all reality, Brave Frontier is filed under “Arcade & Action” in the Play store for good reason… It might look like a role playing game, but this is yet another variant of the tried and tested “Blood Brothers” unit management and arena combat model. Your main goal in these types of games is simple—find, summon, and recruit new units, level them in combat to grow their stats and abilities, and “fuse” them with other like-units to exponentially grow their power. These are games of unit collecting and leveling, and any semblance of story is really only an excuse to get you into a fight.
Too Many Details
At first glance, this game overwhelms with flashy animated graphics and loads and loads of fine print. Every unit has plenty of stats to keep you busy–Type, Level, Next Level, HP, ATK, DEF, REC, Cost, Leader Skill, Brave Burst—and the interface itself is simply packed with information. Brave Frontier seems to be a title geared toward the ADHD generation with plenty of shiny moving parts to keep your interest. After being plunged into your first battle to learn the ropes of combat, it becomes easier to sort out your purpose. Hopping from quest to quest, you’ll drag your squad of goons into a turn-based combat encounter that spans over multiple rounds on a heavily pixelated and tiny battle field. Every fight consumes energy (freemium mechanic) and nets you experience, gems, and materials. Use the gems and materials to buy one-shot items like potions or resurrections, and use materials to craft said one-shot items. Pretty straightforward.
Cute and Uninspiring
The plot itself is the stuff of anime Saturday morning cartoons—simplistic and cheesy—and merely exists to provide a pathway for upgrading your units. Having gone into this game assuming it was more like Final Fantasy (shame on me), I was disappointed to learn that there was no overhead map to explore or sights to take in. The only maps you’ll find are single-screen “flat” illustrations that provide little in the way of interactivity or dynamics. In all reality, the vast majority of your time spent with Brave Frontier is either in the cramped real estate of the combat window (less than 1/3 of the screen) or mired in unit statistics while managing and upgrading your team.
Playing In Bursts
Like all other games of this type, your enjoyment will be immediately hemmed-in by the ubiquitous “energy” constraint. After participating in a few battles, you’ll have to find something else to do for a couple hours before it’ll let you play again. Unless, of course, you want to buy some gems. Brave Frontier does feature arena combat vs. other players, a friends list that nets you more units to use as helpers during combat, and a crafting/harvesting system that I didn’t have enough time to explore. Artwork aside, the only real and arguably unique feature here is the addition of faux limit-breaks called “Brave Bursts”; obvious carry over from Final Fantasy.
Brave Frontier will likely appeal to gamers who are min/maxers by trade and love army management games like the Blood Brothers series or the new (and very shiny) “The Gate”. If your patient and willing to spend a little real world cash, you can take your armies to great heights. If you’re looking for story or variety in scenery however, you probably want to look elsewhere.
+ Unit variety
+ Attractive illustrated art
+ Harvesting/crafting mechanic
– Combat window is dated
– Overwhelming amount of stats
– Quickly becomes a grind