It’s easy to dismiss Kickstarter campaigns from unknown developers out of hand, especially when you see the words “my brother and I” on the page. Though some sibling teams have made excellent games, it’s not easy to trust developers with no prior experience. It seems doubly sketchy when the campaign plays on nostalgia, especially in terms of JRPGs. Based on that, I forgive you for assuming that Braven Arts is some generic, slapdash RPG Maker project, but if you take a few seconds to look at their campaign (and you can get past a bit of awkward writing) you’ll see that’s far from the case.
For starters, Braven Arts aims to be a lot more open than most RPGs. The world is chock-full of sidequests, and its contents change as time passes. Braven Arts utilizes a day/night cycle, and NPCs follow their own routines throughout each day. A number of NPCs can even be recruited to fight for you in a system reminiscent of Suikoden and Radiata Stories. Once they join your guild, these NPCs will sit around your guild hall bantering and enjoying themselves.
The combat system has some unique little wrinkles as well. You face off against enemies on two 4×4 grids, one for them and one for your party. You can place things like turrets on your grid, and move around to get a better position. On the enemy grid, you can create terrain like oil slicks, which will expand the range of your fire attacks, or puddles, which will conduct electricity or flash freeze enemies who get hit by ice spells. It adds an additional layer of strategy to the traditional turn-based back-and-forth.
Braven Arts has its weak points – the writing both for the Kickstarter page and the in-game dialogue is kind of awful – but if you’re looking for a JRPG with an open-ended design and a clever battle system this could fit the bill.