It is the sequel to 2012 hit turn-based role-playing game Bravely Default and it is once again coming your way on the Nintendo 3DS, but does the sequel live up to its predecessor? Let’s take a look at Bravely Second: End Layer and find out!
Title: Bravely Second: End Layer
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Square-Enix, Silicon Studio
Publisher: Square-Enix, Nintendo
Release Date: April 23, 2015
The story of Bravely Second takes place two and a half years after the events of Bravely Default. Agnes Oblige has been elected the Pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy. She and Grand Marshal Braev Lee of the Duchy of Eternia seek to formally end hostilities between the two with a formal peace treaty. However, the ceremony is ambushed by Kaiser Oblivion, leader of the Glanz Empire, and his cryst-fairy Anne. The two defeat Braev and abduct Agnes. Yew Geneolgia, the leader of Agnes’ bodyguard unit, the Crystalguard, awakens a week after the attack. He sets out with fellow Crystalguard leaders Janne Engarde and Nikolai Nikolanikov to rescue Agnès, however, after Janne and Nikokai turn out to be traitors working for Kaiser Oblivion, Yew is joined by some of our old friends in Edea and Tiz. A new companion Magnolia drops in from the moon…
Yes… the moon…
…and we have our party of four looking to rescue Anges and stop the plans of Kaiser Oblivion so that peace can be restored once more.
The story itself is pretty straightforward and the writing is just as cheesy as you remember it from the first game. At one point you end up facing an enemy being from the moon known as a Ba’al (pronounced Ball). Once you beat it, the team decides to call themselves the Ba’al Busters. Then they suggest that maybe they should be called Anges’ Avengers. Then they finally combine the two and called themselves Anges’ Ba’al Busting Avengers. While the writing is very tongue-in-cheek, it still makes you smile. What enhances the writing, even more, is turning the sound off. Yes, you would miss out on a semi-decent soundtrack, but the voice acting is even worse in this game than it was in the first.
The funny part about this is that it worked!
The combat system hasn’t changed at all from the first game. You still have the option to Attack, Brave, Default (Defend) and use Bravely Second to stop time and rack in the big damage. Just like in the first game, your SP for Bravely Second is maxed at 3 and will recover 1 SP every 8 hours of play (or idle if you close the lid, connect to a charger then go to sleep.) Braving will cause you to take extra turns, maxing out at 4. This also means if you Brave up to 4 turns, you’ll be a sitting duck until your Brave Points (BP) reset to zero. So make sure that you have a healer, or are at a critical point in a boss battle before unleashing hell upon your opponent.
The game has an old-school Final Fantasy feel to it in terms of difficulty. You can spend a lot of time leveling up and getting to the point where dungeons are cake, but if you slack off and go to the next dungeon, you might find yourself in over your head when the game decides to take it up a notch in difficulty. One particular method of doing dungeons, however, is to disable encounters and run around and collect everything until you get to the end where the Adventurer is. Then turn the encounter rate up to double speed and farm enemies to level up. You can always rest and restore your health and mana at the Adventurer as well as save your game so it makes leveling up less dangerous.
One thing that is new about Bravely Second‘s combat system is that it rewards you for killing an enemy pack in 1 turn. You can end the battle or continue to a new battle. This system is called Chain Battles and the more you win, the higher your EXP, PG (money), and JP (Job Points) multiplier gets, maxing out at 3x (Triple). The only trick is to keep 1 rounding the enemy. If you get unlucky where the first battle has the enemy attacking first, then you won’t be given the option to chain battle. If the enemy gets to attack at any point during the chain battles, it’s over. The best thing to do is to brave three times, killing them off and hope that the next battle starts with “your party is feeling brave.” This will lower your BP counter by one and it will allow you to take extra turns. With the right kind of RNG, you can chain upwards to 20 battles and really rake in the EXP and PG. JP caps at 999, though, so no super power leveling your jobs.
Speaking of jobs, Bravely Second brings back some of the jobs from the first game such as the Pirate, the Ninja, and the Templar for example, but also adds some brand new jobs such as the Bishop, the Exorcist, and the Guardian. In Bravely Default, jobs maxed out at level 14, but here in Bravely Second, they max out at level 11. This is because there are more jobs overall. Jobs will become mastered at level 10, but there’s something special you have to do in the game and once you figure it out, it will allow you to raise each job to level 11. At 999 JP, it’ll take, roughly depending on luck, 60 battles (30 battles with 2 chain bonus in Grapp Keep with a Growth Egg equipped in Chapter 5 or 6) to max out a job to level 11. It’s a grind, folks, but the job customization system can help make that grand quick and painless.
Here in Bravely Second, you can mix and match jobs and abilities until your heart’s content. You can assign a primary job, a secondary job and assign abilities (up to 5) to your character from any of the jobs you have leveled. So if you assign your primary job as a Wizard and your secondary job as a Bishop, you will gain Job Experience for the Wizard, but NOT the Bishop. Only primary jobs will be given experience at the end of a battle, but you will have a hybrid caster that can deal damage and heal. Plus the Wizard has a Spellcraft ability meaning you can turn your damage and healing spells into different variations such as affecting the whole party, damage or healing over time, etc. You could even pair it with a 20% Defense ability from another class to make your otherwise softie caster a bit more durable. There are nearly endless combinations you can do. Finding the combination that works for you could be a game in and of itself.
The world of Bravely Second is pretty much the EXACT same as the first game. This was the biggest disappointment for me. While, yes, there are new dungeons, Square-Enix decided to re-use a lot; and by a lot I mean ALL, of the dungeons from the first game. It would have been better had the dungeons had different layouts, but they don’t. All of the original dungeons are exactly the same as they were in the first game. Everything from the layout to where all the traps are placed… everything. It just shows how lazy Square-Enix was in making this game. Given the fact that the story takes place 2 years after the first game, you’d think that maybe the dungeons could have been changed up just a little bit.
The new dungeons, though, were very well-crafted and some were just downright beautiful. The puzzles in them, though, were rather simplistic and it didn’t really take much brain power to figure them out.
The boss battles were decent when you were actually fighting a boss. Most of the time, just like the first game, you were fighting asterisk holders in order to collect new jobs. The unique thing about this is that you have to choose which job you want. They will present you with a side quest and at the end you can fight one person or the other. If you defeat the person you choose, you get their job. The sad thing is, this could have been used to make people replay the game, but once you get into the later stage of the game and unlock New Game+, you end up fighting all the asterisk holders again and you just simply pick the one you didn’t fight before and voila… you’ve collected all the jobs taking the notion of choice and a reason to replay the game away from the player. So it doesn’t matter what job you pick the first time around because in the end, you’ll just end up with them all anyway.
Also, there is the whole town rebuilding thing once again. In Bravely Default, you got to rebuild Norende. Here in Bravely Second, you’ll be helping Magnolia rebuild a town on the moon. How that makes any sense is beyond me, but you’re doing it! They also have a semi-fun mini game called Chompcraft where you assemble stuffed animals and sell them for a special currency. You can walk away, let the game do its thing, come back, sell your stuff and be good to go. It requires no work and I guess serves its purpose as a bit of a breather.
And he's got big Ba'als and she's got big Ba'als, but we've got the biggest Ba'als of 'em all!
All in all, it was still a great game from beginning to end with a nifty little twist once you “beat” the game. It’s addicting and really fun to play and it makes me wish for more turn-based RPGs. Even if Square decides to re-use everything again, I really wouldn’t mind seeing a Bravely Third. If you’re a fan of classic RPGs, then I believe that this is a must-have title. Despite its flaws, it’s still a charming game that gives you a great dose of nostalgia while providing you with hours upon hours of entertainment you find yourself coming back to after you put the game down thinking you’ve had enough! After all, you have to do it… FOR THE GRAVY!
Pros Addicting action Amazing character customization Engaging Story Tremendous battle music Cons Re-uses a lot of the content from the first game Rest of the soundtrack is underwhelming Voice acting isn’t amazing Can be a bit grindy