Square Enix managed to recapture the love of its old school JRPG fans with the release of Bravely Default in 2014. Bravely Default was a throwback to the genre’s glory days of old and set a great tone for a new IP with a lot of potential. Bravely Second manages to improve upon some aspects of its predecessor, yet also manages to falter in some similar ways as well.
The story of Bravely Second takes place two years after the events of Bravely Default and is a bit lighter in tone this time around. The world and people of Luxendarc are in a state of recovery and peace now, instead of stuck in between two warring states and dealing with the consequences of war.
The first game was a tale of two halves, as Bravely Default’s story seemed to fall off a cliff a little over the halfway mark. Thankfully, Bravely Second has a bit more nuance in its storytelling and manages to avoid repeating that same mistake; unfortunately, the story itself isn’t the most engaging. That said, I did find enough enjoyment out of it to keep on trekking, despite the clichés like the optimistic hero saving the world.
The party this time around comes with two newcomers, Yew Geneolgia and Magnolia Arch. Yew is the leader of the Crystalgard, tasked with protecting the Pope, a quintessential optimistic main character who manages to see every situation through a “glass half full” approach. The latter, Magnolia, is charismatic enigma hailing from the moon in hopes of rebuilding her home. I thoroughly enjoyed the chemistry between Yew and Magnolia with multiple scenes leaving me with a smile on my face.
Those two are joined by two returning, rather familiar faces in Tiz Arrior and Edea lee. They return with all of their characteristics from the first game complete with tropes and all. From Tiz’s normal dorky self with puns, to Edea’s snarky attitude and classic “mrgrgr.” I rather enjoyed the cast this go around, even moreso than the first game’s.
Luxendarc is just as beautiful as it was two years ago. The backdrops are gorgeous, hand-drawn vistas with a great aesthetic, and familiarity. Maybe all too familiar at times. Naturally, because the game is set in the same world after only two years, there isn’t much change seen throughout the world. This isn’t too bad when visiting cities, as there are new events and dialogue to discover.
Where it becomes a bit of a problem is the dungeons, as there a quite a few that make a return. Unfortunately, these dungeons carry the same layout and design as they did in the prequel. It is not that much of a problem but it did create a lingering feeling of “been there, done that.”
That isn’t to say that there is a lack of new areas to discover and explore. It’s quite the contrary as there are actually quite plenty, consisting of new locales complete with great visuals and new dungeons to fight your through seemingly placed to perfectly fill in the gaps in the world map.
Bravely Second’s crown still rests upon its gameplay. At its core, the turn-based system is heavily focused on its brave and default mechanic. Brave allows you to act an extra time by spending a brave point, if you don’t have any stored, you can sort of “borrow” some in order to take an extra turn. However, that character will be rendered vulnerable until their respective brave point counter reaches zero again. Defaulting allows you to store a brave point and increase your defense for a turn.
While the battle system itself is inherently similar, where Bravely Second manages to make strides over its predecessor is through its amount of jobs it offers. There are plenty that make a return like the classic Black Mage, and White Mage. But, Bravely Second introduces new jobs that offer unique twists on some of the older ones. Take the Wizard for example: on the surface it resembles that of a Black Mage with the ability to cast black magic. However, you can apply a spellcraft to a spell that augments its ability to always cast first, or even inflict a larger amount of damage to similar enemy targets.
Also returning is the ability slot system which allows players to mix and match a job’s abilities with another job. I could equip my Tiz knight with the triple-wield ability from the charioteer job, combining the sheer power of a knight with the dexterity of the charioteer. Each job can be leveled up, which is made a bit easier this time around as chain battles seemed to be easier to come by. These chain battles allow you to accept the challenge of subsequent battles, with the reward being the multiplication of your experience, money, and job point spoils. Bravely Second’s job and battle systems both feel like a very welcome evolution and expansion of the two classic RPG mechanics.
The music in Bravely Second remains relatively well done, despite the fact that the first game’s composers didn’t make a return for the sequel, and compliments the games scenery very well. Classic tracks see a return while being joined by new, more upbeat and pop tunes this time around.
Unfortunately, as with the first game, the voice acting can be hit or miss. The 3DS audio forces compression on Bravely Second which can make the voices come out a bit muddled at times. Although, the main characters do manage to grow on you, with the luxury of having already gotten used to Tiz and Edea, Regrettably, some of the side characters are quite grating at times, like the southern dialect inspired cowgirl, Aimee. It is worth mentioning that Bravely Second does offer a dual audio track so those interested can listen to the games dialogue though its original Japanese audio.
+ Beautiful Hand-Drawn Backdrops
+ Great Brave/Default Battle System
+ Amusing Characters
– Story is a Bit Predictable
– Voice Acting Can Be Hit or Miss
Bravely Second is a great throwback to the classic JRPGs of the past, with excellent gameplay that evolves the old turn-based formula. Bravely Second is a game that managed to claim many of my sleep hours as its own, despite its faults in storytelling and less than stellar voice-acting.
Kevin Green is a writer for The Game Bolt whose engine runs off of sarcasm and spectacle. He is a JRPG connoisseur and sternly believes no other genres are necessary. He’s new to twitter but you can follow him @bLaZnYs