Review: Bravely Second: End Layer (3DS)
Bravely Second: End Layer is one JRPG that does not fail to deliver. Filled with betrayal, comedy, love and an amazingly unique battle system. The successor to Bravely Default builds upon its predecessor and brings back every bit of quality the first had.
Luxendarc is once again plagued by an evil, looking to destroy the world. It is up to you, Yew Geneolgia and your three companions to face off against monsters, the mystery of the moon people and their mortal enemies the ba’al, overpowered henchmen and the Lord of Darkness Kaiser Oblivion. Bravely Second takes place two years after the events in Bravely Default. The player begins in the shoes of Yew Geneolgia. The captain of the three Cavaliers and head of the Geneolgia family. Immediately you’ll notice the similarities between this protagonist and the protagonist from Bravely Default, Tiz. The game starts off with a cut scene leaving you feeling despair and powerless. The main villain shows off just how powerful he is and wipes out everyone and then kidnaps Agnes the Vestal of Wind. It is your duty to rescue Agnes and save Luxendarc from the evil Kaiser Oblivion who intends on destroying the world.
An intriguing feature from the beginning of the game, that provides hints and assists you in learning certain functionalities, is the tutorial quests. Each tutorial completed gives you an item such as Potions, Antidotes etc. An example of one of the tutorials, “One-Handed Controls” – the tutorial basically teaches you that you can play the majority of the game using just your left hand by utilizing the analog stick, D-Pad and left shoulder button. In the beginning I often checked this page to see if there is anything new I could learn but after around 15 hours in I stopped making use of it as I was on top of things.
Information Overload – “Yew’s Diary”
The game consists of a Galaxy of information. At any given time during game play (excluding cut scenes and battle time) you’ll be able to access a menu known as Yew’s Diary which consists of:
- Item Guide
- Special Abilities
- Event Viewer
Each individual option spoils you with information on monster types, weapon, Armor and item guides and more.
Layout – Cities/Towns/Dungeons
One thing I truly enjoyed just as much as the music in this game is the backdrops of the cities and towns. Once you enter a town it pans out to give you a full view of the area which made me stop and admire just how beautiful the artwork actually is. Each town has its own individual look and yet all can be navigated in the same way. The dungeons on the other hand were not too badly designed but just lacked the same aesthetics the cities and towns had. The open world also seemed to lack this unfortunately.
Battle System – Brave & Default
Just like its predecessor Bravely Second retains the same battle system Bravely Default players will be accustomed to. A turn-based battle system with a twist. Selecting “Brave”, in battle, allows you to increase the number of times you’ll be able to attack in a row, use magic or support items. The maximum number of times however is four. The plus side is that if the enemy is weak this will allow you to take them out with no damage caused to you or your party. The downside is that if you do not successfully knock-out the enemy, you’ll be open to an attack for four turns before you can do anything. Selecting “Default” however totally changes things. Defaulting puts you into a defensive position where you’ll still take on damage, but the damage will be reduced exponentially. The plus side about defaulting is that you can then size up the enemy and save up on rounds, so that once you’ve built up your four round limit you can then unleash “Brave”.
Bravely Second unfortunately like Bravely Default forces you to grind a lot of the time before boss battles especially in the third chapter of the game. However, this problem is resolved in an interesting manner, where if you enter a battle and knock out your enemy in the first round you’ll be able to instantly engage in another or choose to decline. A very important thing to note is if you choose to engage in the next battle the experience points you’ll earn will be boosted. With every additional battle you engage in your experience points will gain a boost. I’ve unfortunately only made it up to the fifth round, which allowed my characters to gain a boost of x2.2 on the original experience I would have gained. For example if I had gained 260 exp points in each battle, with the boost it’ll increase that by x2.2 allowing me to have gained 2860 exp points. It makes grinding a little less of a nightmare. Also in Bravely Second you’ll be able to turn down the encounter limit allowing for a 0% chance of encountering any monsters. Or if you’re grinding you can turn it all the way up, allowing an encounter every few steps. Really wish I had that feature in Pokémon games at times.
Summon thy Friend
Bravely Second also has a summoning feature. This feature allows you to summon a friends character into your game via the “Abilink“ function during a battle. You’ll be able to register a friend via online functionality or street pass. It does take up a turn during battle to use the summon option but can really get you out of a pinch especially if your friends character is at a high level.
Send forth the Rains – Magic & Jobs
The magic and jobs system in Bravely Second is so vast you could get lost in its customization options for hours on end. Just as its predecessor in Bravely Second – if you defeat a specific boss you gain their asterisk which gives you their abilities. Bravely Second has added 12 new job classes and has a total number of 30 to gain and choose from. Now I’m not one for fashion but one of my favourite bits about the job classes is that each job has its own outfit. Let’s take a look at some of the new job classes below:
- Exorcist – I remember feeling hopeless when battling the boss with this asterisk as this power reverts HP/MP to what it was in the previous turn. If I dealt a bucket load of damage to him this round it would all be for naught in the next round if he used his power.
- Wizard – This job system was probably the most used by myself as you can combine an elemental attack with a spell that focuses on one enemy or all but with increased damage. Unfortunately this option utilizes two out of your four turns when attacking.
- Bishop – This job is always good to have on at least one of the characters for a wide array of healing purposes.
Bravely Second comes with its own set of Easter Eggs. These so called Easter Eggs really don’t affect the game in any way except to make you laugh a little, should you find one. Surprisingly I didn’t expect to find any in this game but I did:
- The main protagonists comes from a wealthy background and we get a look at his mansion, the easter egg here though is his butler which goes by the name of Alfred. Alfred shares awfully similar demeanor and looks a lot like a butler named Alfred from a certain super hero’s universe
- Close to the middle of the game you come across a pair of investigators that go by the names “Sholmes & Whitson” and have accents awfully similar to an English accent.
All-in-all Bravely Second: End Layer was an aesthetically pleasing title with an astounding soundtracks, an emotional and extraordinary tale with plot twists as early as the first hour of playing the game. The battle system and job classes will keep you busy for just as many hours as the game itself and makes grinding a little more bearable. The character development, I found, was also quite entertaining although at times a bit annoying through some dialogues but thankfully every dialogue can be skipped. If you enjoyed Bravely Default then there is no question about this being a must buy RPG for you. The good news is that there is a demo on the eShop that you can try out right now.
The game releases on the 26th of February 2016 and has a really nice collectors edition which you can check out here.
Please note: If you have not played Bravely Default and intend on doing so do not start up Bravely Second. The opening cut scene, before actually reaching the menu screen, reveals the entire plot of Bravely Default.