Bravely Default surprised fans and critics alike as this handheld experience was the best example of a quality JRPG in years. It prompted Square Enix to reevaluate their design philosophy and upcoming releases. So how does this Bravely Second stack up? Find out next week!
As this is my first review I’d like to explain how I analyse games. I primarily look at games from three major perspectives: Narrative, Gameplay and Aesthetic. Narrative representing the greater story told as well as the ways the story itself is presented. Gameplay representing the interactive elements the player takes part in. And Aesthetic representing the visuals, art style, sound design and soundtrack.
The story of Bravely Second follows Yew Geneolgia, heir to an influential religious family and his quest to live up to his family name. On the brink of a peace treaty between the Duchy of Eternia and the Crystal Orthodoxy an anarchist by the name Kaiser Oblivion kidnaps Agnes Oblige, the leader of the Orthodoxy. On his quest to save her, scared and alone Yew meets: Edea, daughter of the Leader of Eternia. Magnolia Arch, Ba’al Buster from the Moon. And Tiz Arrior, farm boy turned legendary hero after the events of the prior game in the series. Together Agnes’ Ba’al Busting Avengers face giant monsters known as Ba’al and the Kaiser Oblivion’s fearsome allies.
An adventure that will take them to the ends of Luxendarc! And Beyond!
The saving grace of this game’s narrative are the characters and how the game really doesn’t take itself all that serious even if when you think about it, some really awful things happen during the course of its 40 to 50 hour run. I wouldn’t say the characters are particularly well written, Magnolia constantly flops between complete badass super-spy, saucy seductress and naive teenager all throughout the story. But, at the end of the day the characters are written so earnestly that you can’t help but crack a smile and some of their antics. Their official group name is “Agnes’ Ba’al Busting Avengers” for Pete’s sake. A name they and many others refer to them as in earnest.
The best example is this silliness is in the line “Coup de Gravy.” Magnolia being from the Moon, speaks French. (Obviously) And when Yew hears this he combines the phrase “Coup de grace” with his love of food, notably gravy, into a term that would be repeated at even the most dire and serious of moments. “Coup de gravy.”
Speaking of food, the characters in this game talk about food alot. Like an insane amount, I’d say one-fourth of the game’s total dialogue is about food. And that has to be the best part of the writing in this game. Nothing humanizes a character better than knowing what they like to eat. Not only do they flesh out characters with these campfire chats they world build as well. The characters will comment about the local food or combining dishes of different regions.
The precedent was set for strange meta story telling in the prequel and Bravely Second does not disappoint in that regard. I won’t go into too much detail, butitssick.
Overall if you can handle some of your standard anime cheese, like “MY FRIENDS ARE MY STRENGTH!” and “YOUR HUMANS AND YOUR LOVE MEANS NOTHING TO ME FUFU!” Then there is absolutely no reason to skip out on this one.
Bravely Second’s gameplay is easily its strongest aspect with combat so engaging you won’t even mind grinding. Bravely Second is your standard turn based, 4 person party JRPG with a few unique twists, namely the Brave/Default system. First, whenever you take an action you can spend something known as a Brave Point(BP) to do that same or another combination of actions up to 4 times in a single turn. This is known as the “Brave” action. Secondly, instead of your defend or block action you have the “Default” action. This grants your player additional defense for that turn and grants you additional BP. If you start your turn with negative BP that turn is skipped and you gain 1 BP per turn until you are positive. So as the player you must manage knowing when to Brave and when to default. While seeming somewhat straightforward this is a very complex system that will probably take you a good amount of your time with the game to truly wrap your head around. But when you do you will discover that Bravely Second has the most well crafted and engaging combat system in JRPG history.
To help with the learning process here are a few examples of optimal use of the Brave/Default system:
– During exploration your may want all your units to Brave for the full amount to clear the battle quickly as there will be no consequence to having negative BP.
– Oh shit! Healer’s down and not only do you need to make sure he/shes’s both back up but you also need him/her to be able to survive the monsters next attack! So, you Brave and throw both a phoenix down and a hi-potion their way.
– You’re party is low and you’ve examined the boss and you see he’s at low health as well! You make your healer cast some spells to stabilize everyone to the point when you feel confident you won’t get wiped! You have your tank protect the healer while this is taking place cause if they go down your screwed! You have your two other units default so your healer doesn’t have to spend additional BP reviving them and so that they can potentially fully brave two turns in a row finishing off the boss. Woo! Get it?!
Next is the Class System. As you journey through Bravely Second you will unlock classes and these are not specific to any character so you’re free to mix and match as you please. As you gain levels within that class you gain new passive and active abilities. You can then equips two class sets of actives and you can equip passives from any class. Seems pretty straightforward but what makes this such an excellent system is the ludicrous amounts of synergy between the classes.
For example lets look at the wizard class. The wizard’s specialty is known as “Spellcraft.” Spellcraft allows you to manipulate ANY spell in special ways such as: casting it at the start of a turn, casting that spell as an AOE, casting that spell to proc at the end of turns for several turns, and much more. Combine all that together and you get one of the most satisfying progression systems in any RPG.
Here’s what a pretty basic character build might look like.
Main Class: Knight – Throws themself in front of enemies attacks with large defensive statistics.
Sub Class: Swordmaster – Abilities that increase aggro and retaliates after being hit.
Counter:(Swordmaster Passive) Chance to retaliate when hit by a physical attack.
Stand Ground:(Freelancer Passive) Chance to live with 1 HP when dropped below 0.
Counter Amp:(Swordmaster Passive) Increase counter damage.
This build fits neatly into the “Tank” archetype having high defenses, actively defending allies, and benefiting from doing so. And on the off chance you do fall you’re using someone from a third class, Freelancer, to help you as well.
Here’s what the Core Gameplay Loop looks like:
– Plot directing you to a dungeon
– Traverse landscape to arrive at dungeon
– Solve Dungeon’s puzzles whilst handling the new combat encounters within.
– Encounter Boss which unlocks a new class
– Explore potential synergies between new classes and old.
– Reach new town and buy new gear.
Bravely Second sports nearly identical visuals and art style to its predecessor. In other words its one of the best looking games on the 3ds. The game combines chibi character models and beautiful backgrounds that resemble water color paintings. This perfectly represents the world of Luxendarc which is both charming and beautiful.
But forget all that ’cause this game’s soundtrack is fuckin’ bonkers.
This is the general boss theme. What? Who? Why is it so intense? Who is this for? Why does this cute ass game where we say shit like Coup De Gravy has such an intense boss theme? I don’t know and I don’t care, because I love this song.
The soundtrack isn’t all heavy guitar as the comment sections say, there does exist some variety. While I do agree with alot of the sentiment that the variety of instruments in the Default’s OST was preferable, all that matter in the end is, “Are these tracks fuckin’ tight?”
And the answer is a resounding yes.
But there is a serious amount of guitar, and depending on who you ask may or may not be the best thing ever.
The only problem with this soundtrack is sadly a lack of variety. While I love that first theme I linked you do end up fighting ALOT of bosses and there is such a thing as “Too much of a good thing.” If that boss theme was for one of the bosses I wouldn’t hesitate to call it one of my top 10 favorite tracks of all time. But the more bosses I fought the more it faded into the background and the more the magic slipped away. And this is true for a few of the themes. Especially since there are some tracks that are from the PREQUEL!
In conclusion, Bravely Second is a fantastic game and one of the best on 3DS, particularly if you have no experience with its predecessor. But as a huge fan of the first game there are a lot of issues I cannot ignore. This game relies far too heavily on things established in Bravely Default. In Bravely Second you are exploring the same overworld, with a good 80% of the dungeons in the game being reused, and two members of your party are from the prior game in the series. Even a good chunk of the boss fights in the game are ripped straight out of the prequel. But at the end of the day I’m happy that I picked this one up, and I think you will too.
Now for my recommendations.
- If you were a huge fan of Bravely Default, get this game
- If you’ve never played Bravely Default and are a fan of RPG’s, get this game.
- If you’re a fan turn based RPG’s in particular this is definitely worth checking out if only for it’s combat and progression systems.
- If you were lukewarm or just liked Bravely Default, while this is a better game overall I’d say skip this one.