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Bravely Second

Bravely Second

Written by Matt Mirkovich on 4/29/2016 for 3DS  
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When Bravely Default came out, the cliffhanger at the end of the game hinted at an obvious sequel. Whether you made it through the repeating final chapters or not, the game had a very awkward pacing for the last quarter of the game, but that didn’t stop it from being one of my favorite games of 2014. With Bravely Second: End Layer, I’m a bit torn. Here’s a sequel that deserves to exist, but does it need to be so close to the first game that they are almost indistinguishable? We’ve got a few new faces, but the formula remains largely unchanged. And while this means we get to experience that wonderful battle system all over again, it also means we’re revisiting Luxendarc as a whole, which means a lot of areas that we’ve already seen before, with new scenarios and situations to be sure, in some ways this really sets the pace for Bravely Second, and serves as almost an apology for the sins of the original game. That may be enough for people who were put off by Bravely Default’s final act, but is that who this game was made for? Or does all the revisiting serve to entice fans of the original, who fell in love with the Four Warriors of Light?

Bravely Second: End Layer picks up shortly after the end of the first game, the Crystal Orthodoxy and the Kingdom of Eternia have made nice, with peace following the efforts of Tiz, Edea, Ringabell, and Agnes. Tiz has fallen into a deep coma, and the world has carried on in his absence. In this time the Crystalguard has come to flourish, though we immediately find ourselves in battle, in the shoes of Yew Geneolgia, as he is felled by Kaiser Oblivion, a mysterious individual who has sworn to destroy the world as it stands. With a curious fairy in tow, and a kidnapped Agnes, and now Ba’al threatening the world, it seems Kaiser Oblivion has all the pieces in place to complete his plan. As Yew, he leads a team of Edea, the fighting princess of Eternia, Magnolia, a mysterious visitor from the moon, and Tiz, awakened from his two years of slumber, to lead the charge of saving Agnes and stopping Kaiser Oblivion.

The story this time feels a bit more straightforward, with less late game shenanigans to derail the whole experience. The new party feels fresh, even with the returning cast members, although Yew can be a little off-putting at times, he seems like a manifestation of the inadequacies of Tiz magnified ten-fold, all foibles and no flare. You want to root for the kid, but it doesn’t feel natural. At the very least the party chemistry is as fun as the original game. And with Agnes on the sideline, the conversations seem to flow a lot more naturally without her hyper-reverence for the Crystal Orthodoxy affecting her every decision. The excellent localization efforts give you some fun dialog between characters, with plenty of party chat moments that felt genuinely humorous and fun. It also means the writers got to have a lot of fun with contextual characters like Minette Napkatti, the Catmancer who speaks… cat? Then there’s the Brooklyn-accented Aimee Matchlock, a gunslinger in cowboy garb. It’s definitely a colorful cast of characters, and the game does a pretty great job of giving each their own personality for the short time that they’re on screen.



Having so many enemies standing between you and Kaiser Oblivion means that there’s a lot of asterisks to capture, meaning you’ll find a wide variety of jobs, twelve new ones to be exact. In addition to that you have eighteen jobs returning from the original game, however those original jobs are relegated to side-quests that are peppered throughout the story. In order to get one of the old asterisks you’ll need to make a choice, usually a moral dilemma of sorts that results in you choosing to fight the person you disagree with. This at times can lead you to winding up with jobs that you don’t particularly want, and was the source of much consternation recently over cut content. Now when you make your choice, you’re given a more neutral ending rather than outright ‘killing’ the person you disagree with, but some of the scenarios come off as a bit ridiculous. One in particular had me perturbed, as I had to choose between Edea’s sister, Artemia, a ranger, and the black mage Ominas Crowe. The party was trapped with limited food resources, and Ominas could only focus on his d’gon companion and keeping him fed to learn a skill. It’s as if the whole thing couldn’t be put off for a few more days, instead the whole party suffers and I have to choose to wind up with an asterisk I didn’t really want. But those choices are yours to make as you proceed through the story. Thankfully the quests aren’t too time intensive, and usually when you reach them you’re well leveled enough that you can ignore combat during them.

Speaking of combat, the Brave and Default system returns almost completely unchanged, with a few tweaks to the flow of battle, you’ll find the system to be really familiar if you played the first game. For those that are new, each turn you have the option of taking an action, or you can Default, which would be the closest thing to ‘Defend.’ This also stocks that turn for later use which can be activated by Brave, which puts you on the offensive, allowing you to take up to four consecutive actions. You can stock up to three extra turns, and can be in debt for up to three turns as well, meaning you can gamble your future if you’re feeling like you can take down your opponents. The biggest and most welcome change to the battle system is being able to do consecutive fights if you manage to take out your enemies in one turn. Doing this results in an increase in experience point, cash, and job points, up to three times the normal amount. So that little bit of grinding just got a bit easier to stomach, provided you outfit your party with the correct jobs and skills.

In addition to the main story, there’s a side-quest that pertains to Magnolia and her home on the Moon. Her home was destroyed by the Ba’al, mysterious monsters that evoke a sense of the witch world from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It pretty much mirrors Tiz’s quest to restore his town in the first Bravely Default, but this time you and your friends will be restoring Magnolia’s home on the Moon, earning items and gifts as you complete structures that serve to outfit your special abilities that power the super moves you can use in battle. You’ve also got a small mini-game that is similar to a cookie clicker type of game, where your party assembles plushies of a certain creature that was a nuisance in the first game, just because they had absurdly high defense and loved to run away. Completing this mini-game will eventually pave the way to some easy money, but it almost comes too little too late for the effort that you can put into it (roughly six hours of concerted effort went into this).


Bravely Second continues to be a showcase title for the 3DS, with great visuals that translate perfectly to 3D, especially when running around the layered towns, even if you are seeing a lot of repeat locations. The new soundtrack by Ryo is full of fun tracks, with a lot of driving rock riffs, and high energy tunes. The voice-acting work also continues to be marvelous, although there is a lot of repeat use of the same actors which is kind of disappointing, and then there’s the lack of a Japanese voice track this time around. I think this is in part of the fact that in the dialog, Magnolia will pepper in her ‘moon-speak,’ which in the JP version, was English, but for the US version, she speaks French. Regardless, it’s kind of a disappointing omittance, and hopefully will be available as DLC at some point perhaps?

Bravely Second End Layer is a much more evenly paced title than its predecessor, and that in itself makes it as enjoyable as the first game, if not more so. The heavy use of recycled assets though can be seen as a little lazy, but there’s still plenty of fresh content, plus new party members, and it’s a new story in the world of Luxendarc. Depending on what you know of the ending of the first game, this can be an exciting prospect for some, and a bit of a cop-out for others. Really what’s going to determine whether or not you love this game, is the combat, and the story, and I think Bravely Second is a great follow up to an already stellar game. Ultimately as a stand-alone experience, this is an excellent adventure that everyone can enjoy, fans of the original game or not, finely crafted, and finely tuned to make a pretty unforgettable adventure.

All the harrumph and bluster about cut content and changes does little to change the fact that Bravely Second: End Layer is a fantastic game that should satisfy fans and foes of the original game. There is a lot of revisiting, and some forced moral quandaries that I don't exactly agree with (from a logical stand-point), but they do little to affect my overall enjoyment of this game. 

Rating: 9 Excellent

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

In a past life I worked with Interplay, EA, Harmonix, Konami, and a number of other developers. Now I'm working for a record label, a small arm of casual games in a media company along with Gaming Nexus, and anywhere else that sees fit to employ me.


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