Nondiegetic Battle in Bravely Default

Talking about Galloway’s “Gamic Action, Four Moments” and the diegesis of games, I found especially interesting the discussion of nondiegetic battle systems. Much like in World of Warcraft, RPGs like the Final Fantasy series and the Fire Emblem series place the player above the field of battle as a kind of “godlike” field general. Whether the player controls one or many avatars, they have no direct involvement in the diegesis of the battle. The player selects options from a menu that are then played out in front of them. Especially in turn based RPGs, we are removed from the diegesis that is the chaos of a battlefield. World of Warcraft is played out in real time, but the battles of a game like Final Fantasy play out in turns so that the player may more comfortably strategize. Despite how well or how poorly this system creates a unique player experience, it is nondiegetic in the fact that interactions with menus take the place of diegetic movements.

Bravely Default for Nintendo 3DS, a game made by the creators of Final Fantasy draws heavily from this system. However, it includes some elements that I argue are nondiegetic on a higher level than the traditional turn based RPG battle system. In Bravely Default, not only is the player given control over a party of four avatars, but they are also allowed to bank or take advances on turns. These commands are called Default and Brave respectively. By giving the player the power to Default for a few turns in a row, then Brave to attack multiple times, breaks the “diegesis” of turn based combat. Players can also Brave without Defaulting first, leaving them open to attack until they wait the amount of turns they spent. With this extra layer to the game formula, I can identify three levels of gamic action in Galloway’s definition: the diegesis of the battle, the diegesis of the turn-based menus (which is non-diegetic to the battle), and the Brave and Default commands that are non-diegetic to the turn-based menus.

Here is a video of a battle from Bravely Default in which you can observe the player managing their turns in order to take down a boss.

I think this makes for an interesting application of the concepts that we were discussing in class because of how it expands on the concept of Galloway’s four moments!

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2 Responses to Nondiegetic Battle in Bravely Default

  1. useltime says:

    I really liked how you discussed that by switching when you Default or Brave it “breaks the diegesis of turn based combat.” What I took away from what you are saying here is that it breaks free from the typical way that a turn based attack works which makes this form of narrative one that is non-diegetically diegetic. I was wondering if you would classify “Bravely Default” as diegetic overall because of the narrative and game play from the characters point of view or if the step by step style fighting is confluent throughout the game (including when you are not fighting)?

    Like

  2. Pingback: WoW Companions, Gotta catch ém all! | Narrative and Technology, Spring 2015

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