• Bravely Second - a Bravely Review

    There's a reason the term "sophomore slump" exists. The first entry in a series always brings a certain degree of expectation to the table that a sequel should logically meet and even surpass. Needless to say, doing so is very hard. Although, video games are a unique case. Due to their interactive nature, most sequels are actually capable of being objectively better than their predecessors. Is Bravely Second an example of this or does it fall flat compared to Bravely Default?

    Bravely Second is this little gem of a series' attempt to bravely make a second... game. This time around, we follow a new protagonist named Yew (Get it? Because you are playing as him!), a member of the Three Cavaliers, who sets out on a journey to save a very familiar face from the first game from the clutches of the nefarious Kaiser Oblivion. Yew is soon joined by a number of other characters, some of which you'll recognize from the previous game, and you'll once again be travelling around the world of Luxendarc. The premise is solid and the game plays out in a pretty interesting way, though you can clearly see the writer has changed from the previous game. While Bravely Default did rely on JRPG stereotypes a lot, it also played around with them on many occasions. Your expectations were defied in various ways, both subtle and overt. This time around, it's a bit less nuanced. The story is fun and the characters interactions quite charming, but the script just lacks that subtle kind of self-awareness that the previous game had. Also, before you ask - yes, that big flaw from the previous game is nowhere to be seen, so everyone who got tired by the twist in Default can rest easy knowing they won't have to endure that again.

    But the story was never really the biggest hook of Bravely Default - it was the gameplay that had people singing praises! And I can honestly say, while I have my reservations about the story, the gameplay is certainly just as enjoyable as before, if not more. The map is explored exactly the same as last time, in a pretty linear fashion. You pretty much can't visit anything besides what you've[/B] already visited, the next story destination, and some optional sidequests. This may sound restricting, but it works surprisingly well. Also returning are the various user-friendly features, like the ability to control the encounter rate, except now it's even more easily accessible as all you have to do is tap the R button. But by far the biggest draws are the battle system and the jobs.

    Battles in Bravely Second are turn-based with the incredibly successful brave/default mechanic making a return from Bravely Default. It allows you to store up to 3 Brave Points, or BP, for guarding, and then unleashing a number of turns using the BP as payment. It's as fun and strategic as before, and the new One More Fight! system that replaces the old post-battle bonuses makes you take random encounters much more seriously.

    The Job System, inspired by Final Fantasy V, makes a triumphant return and it's bigger and better than ever. Out of the 30 jobs total, twelve are completely new, and they're very interesting. In Bravely Default, all of the jobs were based on old jobs found in FFIII and FFV - the new jobs in the sequel are completely original with very interesting mechanics that I haven't seen done in RPGs. The Wizard, for example, uses Spellcraft to combine a spell element with a manner of casting. For example, they can set it so that the spell always goes first, deals physical damage, or deals magical damage overtime. Spellcraft can combine with other schools of magic as well, and I used it throughout my entire playthrough on my Summoner, making for quite a lethal combination. As for the old jobs - not all of them make a return, but those that do are obtained through interesting little sidequests wherein you have to choose one of two sides of an ideological conflict, out of which you'll only get one of two jobs. Don't worry, though, there's a way to obtain all jobs you miss out on later in the game.

    Presentation-wise, Bravely Second is every bit as beautiful as Bravely Default. The amazing art direction gives us very colorful character and job designs, some of which may be hit-or-miss, but the artists should still be commended for the effort of making them look distinct and memorable, at which they most certainly succeed. The backgrounds are still hand-drawn and have the appearance of a pop-up book with the 3D on, which makes for as mouth-watering of an experience as the first game gave us. The one area in which the presentation may be rocky compared to the first may be the music. While a lot of Revo's excellent music is reused for this game, the majority of the game you'll be listening to new tracks by Ryo, who does his job well, though with less than half the flair of the previous composer. The soundtrack also uses a lot more synth and much fewer live instruments, while the melodies and arrangements are much more simple and anime-ish. Nevertheless, it works well within the game and there is actually one track that is much better than the first game's equivalent, and that is the final battle music.

    In the end, does Bravely Second manage to surpass the original, or has the series experienced a sophomore slump? I don't really have a definite answer to this one, as several elements have been done better in Bravely Default, but in other areas Bravely Second is simply a much more refined product. In the end, however, Bravely Second is an extremely fun game to play, especially for fans of good old turn-based combat with a twist. If you enjoyed Bravely Default, there's a good chance Bravely Second will make you just as happy, if not more so. If you haven't played the game yet, it's very much worth your time, though I recommend you play Bravely Default first. Now let's just keep our fingers crossed that we won't have to wait too long for a Bravely Third to be announced.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Bravely Second - a Bravely Review started by Fynn View original post
    Comments 6 Comments
    1. Del Murder's Avatar
      Del Murder -
      Great review. Makes me want to play the game!
    1. Depression Moon's Avatar
      Depression Moon -
      I'm jealous of you. I haven't even got to play the first.
    1. Fynn's Avatar
      Fynn -
      Well, what are you guys waiting for then? Get to playing! XD
    1. Skyblade's Avatar
      Skyblade -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
      Well, what are you guys waiting for then? Get to playing! XD
      I'm trying to get all the demo bonuses first, and the StreetPass one is taking quite a while.
    1. Pumpkin's Avatar
      Pumpkin -
      I'm almost done and so far I'm enjoying it considerably more than the first. The characters seem more alive this time too.
    1. Depression Moon's Avatar
      Depression Moon -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fynn View Post
      Well, what are you guys waiting for then? Get to playing! XD
      Don't have a DS.
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