Bravely Second: End Layer Review (3DS)

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Developer: Silicon Studios
Publisher: Square Enix

Main Review

Review Context: I watched a playthrough of Bravely Default when it released and immediately loved it. Once I got my hands on it it, without a doubt, it became my favorite JRPG of all time.
Date of Playthrough: May 2016

WARNING! Under no circumstances should you ever play Bravely Second: End Layer before playing Bravely Default. Simply watching the opening cutscene of Bravely Second will ruin the story of Bravely Default, and that would be an unforgivable shame. If you have not played Bravely Default, go and read my review of it. You must play Bravely Default first, and trust me, you will not be disappointed. If you have played Bravely Default already then fearlessly read on and leave a comment giving your final opinion of Bravely Default. With that out of the way, enjoy the review.

Bravely Second is about a boy named Yew Geneolgia, head of the Orthodoxy’s Crystal Guard and leader of The Three Cavaliers. After an attack on the seat of the Orthodoxy in Gathelatio, pope Agnes was captured by the evil Kaiser Oblivion just before signing a long fought for peace agreement with the Dutchy of Eternia. With old and new friends in tow, Yew must rescue pope Agnes and save the dream of peace that was almost fulfilled. But just like in Bravely Default, nothing is ever as it seems.

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Bravely Second’s story, though lacking the same caliber of twist, is just as well written, intriguing, and mind-blowing as Bravely Default’s. By direct comparison Bravely Default’s story is definitely better, but what do you expect when you’re trying to follow an act as amazing as that. On its own however, Bravely Second is still an awesome story with a twist or two to keep things interesting. The same witty writing and great storytelling is still here, but with a whole new story and a bunch of new characters too.

The biggest thing that Bravely Second adds to the formula is a bunch of new jobs to play with. Just as good as the last game, mixing and matching jobs in Bravely Second is a blast. These new jobs help to keep the game from feeling too similar to Bravely Default. Though there are a bunch of new jobs, there are also a lot of jobs from Bravely Default too. These tend to be acquired in side missions where we get to see two characters from Bravely Default arguing about some moral dilemma. Upon picking a side, this inevitably results in a battle with the other character and the re-acquisition of that asterisk.

From a gameplay perspective, Bravely Default and Bravely Second are almost identical. The only major change to the system being that jobs don’t level the same. Previously jobs went from level 1 to level 14 with the JP required to level up spiking dramatically at level 10. In Bravely Second, Jobs only go up to level 11 and scale more gradually. The needed JP still gets exponentially higher making the higher levels harder to reach but there isn’t a clear cut break in the leveling. It helps to keep getting certain job levels a commitment where as before it was only levels 10 – 14 that took any time to get after a certain point.

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Though every job technically has less abilities overall, it doesn’t seem to hurt the job’s effectiveness or the fun of mixing and matching them. This also helps the jobs from Bravely Default, because even though they do the same general thing, they aren’t exactly the same. This keeps them from feeling stale. The other more minute change is that instead of only a few weapon types being extra effective against certain enemy types, like bows being good against flying enemies, now all weapons are super effective against a certain family of enemy. Though not super impactful, it does help to diversify the gameplay.

What Bravely Second really does to upgrade the formula is, and I didn’t think this was possible, but they made the game even more enjoyable to play. First off, they added every job’s abilities into the menu. No more jumping to the web to figure out which jobs to start leveling. You can do it all right from the game which is super convenient. They also added multiple auto-battle configurations to set. Before, the auto battle button simply repeated your last set of actions. Now, not only can you save three individual command sets to call out on a whim, but you can apply those commands with one button and then tweak them to fit the situation before committing to the actions. Wanna heal instead of default with your healer next random battle, but don’t feel like repeating everyone else’s commands, well good thing your playing Bravely Second.

They made it so that after you’ve given everyone their commands you can tap the up arrow on the directional pad to scroll up the list of commands and edit them as you see fit. Before, you would have to cancel all the actions to change the moves your first row character was going to use and then re-input everyone else’s commands before you can start the turn. They even made it so that when you are hovering over a command you can hit R instead of A in order to automatically issue that command four times, or you can hit L to issue it two times, saving you from having to madly mash the A button to do an attack four times.

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Bravely Default was awesome because it took all the annoying parts of JRPGs and mitigated them with options and designs that made the game a joy to play. Bravely Second then went a step further and took all the points specific to Bravely Default that were annoying, like mashing A to issue a command four times, and made even those a breeze to use. First they revamped JRPGs and then they revamped themselves, it’s perfect. They even added a pig that you can talk to, which can fast travel you between towns. Why is it a pig? I don’t know, but I’m not complaining. They also added a dog that you can play with in order to change the time from night to day, as certain quests are still dependent on what time of day it is in the city.

Though I would still say that Bravely Default is the better game without a doubt, Bravely Second: End Layer being even close to as good as Bravely Default makes it better then most other JRPGs around and man is it still good. It’s literally just more of a good thing and even more enjoyable this time around, thanks to even more clever design. Bravely Second provides tons of new content and even insight on characters and events from Bravely Default, while adding a bunch of new faces and experiences. The only reason Bravely Default is still the better game is because the twist and general execution of the story in Bravely Default is one of a kind. The kind of perfection and mastery that you only happen upon once in a blue moon. Having said that, Bravely Second still has an awesome story and has a twist that forces you to think outside of the conventional box, which I applaud it for. Its risky and hard to pull off, but the Bravely series makes it work. If Bravely Default only left you wanting more, than Bravely Second is gonna give it to you.

Similar Games Liked:
Chrono Trigger (SNES)
Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (PS2)
Final Fantasy III (NES)

Similar Games Disliked:
Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

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