3DS Nintendo

Bravely Second: End Layer Review

Join Tiz Arrior and Edea Lee with newcomers Magnolia Arch and Yew Geneolgia on an adventure to save her Holiness in Bravely Second. With 30 job classes and a 60 hour plus main storyline, prepare to be immersed in Luxendarc with its beautiful visuals and refined gameplay.

From developers Silicon Studio and Square Enix comes the sequel to the brand new franchise Bravely Default. Promising a much more refined battle system, Bravely Second: End Layer delivers in a superb way and features improved returning job classes, while bringing some intriguing new ones to the forefront. From the firm favourites of the red mage and monk classes, to the striking fencer, exorcist and utterly adorable catmancer asterisks, Bravely Second’s greatness lies in its subtle nuances throughout the game.

Setting the scene in Luxendarc two and a half years after the events of Bravely Default, Bravely Second: End Layer begins with the main protagonist Yew Geneolgia, a scholar and swordsman hailing from the Three Cavaliers. Tasked with protecting her Holiness, Agnes Oblige, Yew is mortified when she is abducted by antagonist Kaiser Oblivion and his cryst-fairy Anne, and seeks to save her from their dark grasp. Along the way, he meets Edea Lee – now the leader of Eternia’s Imperial Guard – and newcomer from the moon and resident Ba’al Buster Magnolia Arch. Together they search for the comatose Tiz Arrior and form a team to take down and thwart the dastardly plans of the Kaiser and Anne.

As a Japanese RPG with three difficulty settings, Bravely Second is a turn-based combat with a slight twist. For those that are new to the franchise, players will be able to Brave or Default when facing enemies in battle. While braving allows you to deal massive damage up to four times in a row, it also leaves you vulnerable to attacks afterwards if you fail to defeat the enemy in that turn. On the other hand, choosing to default allows the player to defend against attacks in order to take revenge in bulk by unleashing a barrage of damage, without leaving yourself defenceless. Alongside this battle mechanic, SP also returns to mix up your strategy during difficult fights. Once again, you’ll be able to store up to a maximum of three SP points while in sleep mode or through live play.

Though Bravely Default had its issues when switching job classes later in the game, leaving players at a distinct disadvantage, Bravely Second rectifies this by keeping it much more streamlined without the added buffs. With more encouragement to switch between jobs and over 300 abilities, the game becomes much more enjoyable and fluid, without forcing you into keeping classes which were unlocked in the early parts of the title.

New to the franchise this time around is a sweet high risk and high reward battle strategy. Keeping the game fresh and motivating while in the more monotonous level grinding stages between bosses, players will get the chance to fight in consecutive battles following a one-turn victory. Although it doesn’t restore Brave Points (BP), it will boost your experience, the game’s currency in pg, and job points by 0.5 after the first battle. String many of these fights together – which become increasingly harder after each victory – and you’ll be raking in the rewards. But losing means you’ll leave with nothing but a sore head and a broken heart. A fantastic way to level up against lower-level enemies in the overworld, the double or nothing battle strategy brings deeper, more refined tactics for seasoned players.

Despite Bravely Default’s novel pop-up storybook visuals which are still as beautiful in the sequel, particularly with the 3D slider at its maximum, the first game instilled frustration into many fans with its odd rinse and repeat dungeon mechanic in the second half. Fortunately, Silicon Studio and Square Enix have not made the same mistake twice, listening to fans’ wishes. Though we can’t reveal anything after Chapter 4 in terms of storyline, Bravely Second still has a few tricks up its sleeve and finds new ways to dazzle players with additional gameplay. The title’s pacing is no longer askew and is structured with side quests positioned in between the main storyline. While it is a little static and there’s little left to the imagination, the side quest storylines are engaging enough and, occasionally, even steal the limelight away from the main adventure.

Moments that elevate the game to new heights are characters like Geist with the Exorcist asterisk, who can deal death or bring life to himself or his subordinates by using the ability “Undo”, and the Wizard Ayame with the creepy looking Japanese doll. But their highly captivating characters are rendered useless with very little back story, serving as a simple boss at the hands of Kaiser Oblivion.

In fact, one of the few minor flaws in Bravely Second is a real lack of character development outside of the main four protagonists. The placid, often boring Yew Geneolgia gets more air time than the likes of Tiz, with his enamoured relationship with Magnolia Arch. With that said, though, Magnolia is a great addition to the four playable characters. Let’s just say any woman who holds wit, intelligence and busts Ba’als on a daily basis gets a big tick in my book.

bravely_second_magnolia
This girl can bust all the Ba’als if it means she gets more screen time. Ladies and gentleman, Magnolia Arch.

Two dimensional characters aside, there are some additional flaws that must be noted in Bravely Second. Though the side quests offer you the choice between which asterisk you can obtain, you won’t be able to receive the other asterisk within the main game. I had a suitably difficult time battling a mechanical beast in Chapter 3 as I didn’t choose the monk asterisk, leaving my team of mages and offensive classes useless in this battle. Changing up my team to one that was not utterly defenceless was a rancid slog here; and one that newcomers or younger players would find frustrating, given the circumstances. And while the Chomper mini-game is introduced early on, allowing fans to build cute sets of chompers and sell them, it’s largely forgettable and gets lost in the fray of the main game.

Much like its predecessor, Bravely Second adds a settlement mini-game through the use of StreetPass. By rebuilding areas of the moon, players will have access to various healing items, special move sets and offensive item sets to use in battle. It’s not needed to progress in the main game, but it does help keep your supplies healthy in the interim. And if you felt that it was unacceptable with Agnes reduced to a mere kidnapped princess trope in Bravely Second, you’ll be pleased to know she’s accessible on the bottom screen of the 3DS, available for a good chit chat when you need to boost morale. Step aside your Holiness, remember we have a Ba’al Buster on the case now.

Feeling much bigger with more of Luxendarc to explore and excellent music, Bravely Second is exactly what fans could wish for in a JRPG. If only it had a richer storyline, with a deeper and more intense antagonist back story, the game would be revelling in near perfection territory. But hey, it really is all gravy.

9/10

9 comments

  1. In terms of that story being less “rich” it has me asking, who writes the video game storylines and is enough resources or the best resources put into that side of it? Are developers/programmers writing them? If so, that would be a mistake as games try to get to “another level” in the future

  2. ~*While Bravely Default had repetitive dungeons after Chapter 4, least it had character development during the second half. Bravely Second, sadly, gets rid of repetitive dungeons while apparently sacrificing character development in the process. Does anyone else see a problem here? Clearly they don’t know how to do a great story with great character development while also keeping the dungeons throughout the game fresh & new. Clearly the Bravely franchise is being run by some amateurs in Square Enix. Hopefully Bravely Third can fix that & find a good balance as the guys in charge improve. No matter. Like Bravely Default, I’ll probably enjoy the game nonetheless. Only difference is while Bravely Default was great because of the story, character development, & gameplay, I’m sure Bravely Second will be great because of the story, dungeon crawling, & gameplay.*~

    1. ~*In fact, my biggest issue with this game will most likely be the fact that once again they let Nintendo be the publisher of the game in the United States. Get ready to say hello to idiotic censoring, guys! s/ Oh wait. It won’t be Nintendo’s fault the game gets censored but it’ll be the government’s fault, like ShadyKnights said, because apparently there is a law that says Nintendo must censor the games they publish when releasing them in the United States while other video game companies get a pass. /s lol*~

  3. I can’t tell how glad i am to hear that the second half of the game stays fresh and doesn’t repeat dungeons. It was SOOOO hard to finish the first game because of this. The story seems a little lack luster to me, (trying to save Agnes) but overall I think it will be the better game. Simply because of the strong second half…

    Great review!

    1. ~*The second half of Bravely Default was pretty strong if you ignored the repetitiveness of the dungeons & enjoyed it for the character development side quests. In fact, I think that’s what they were hoping for but sadly most focused too much on the repetitive dungeons so they sacrificed character development for better dungeons.*~

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