Bravely Second (Nintendo 3DS)
Note: Both this game and this review contain heavy spoilers for Bravely Default. If you have not yet played Bravely Default, avoid both until you have!
Bravely Second picks up not too long after the end of the first game. It starts in the heat of the action with a new threat, called Kaiser Oblivion, kidnaps Agnes. A new hero by the name of Yew must band together with his friends in order to rescue her. On his way, he meets with some familiar faces, such as Edea and Tiz, and also meets another strange girl claiming to be from the moon. As the story progresses, you'll meet some old friends/enemies, and be asked to solve some moral dilemmas for them. You'll also meet some new friends and enemies, including the bad guys who are trying to help Kaiser Oblivion in his nefarious plans. It's up to Yew (and you) to save Agnes, stop the Kaiser, and show your friends and enemies that there's more than one way to happiness.
Bravely Second plays very similar to Bravely Default with a few tweaks. The Brave/Default system returns, in which you can save up moves or spend them for several actions in a row. Job classes old and new make an appearance, although this time you'll have to make some touch moral choices to decide which ones to get when. It does play in typical turn-based RPG fashion, with you and your enemies taking turns in battle, depending on your Brave Points, and of course different jobs have different skills, equipment, strengths, and weaknesses and can be changed any time outside of battle. As the jobs level up, they'll obtain new skills and abilities, and you can equip a secondary job command as well as use support commands from other jobs for more customizable parties.
One of the main new features, is the One More Time system in battle. If you complete the fight in one turn or less, by pressing L1 you can immediately go in to another fight, retaining the same HP, MP, and BP. You can continue this trend for as long as you complete the battle is one turn or less, and once you no longer can, or you choose not to, you'll be awarded extra exp, jp, and pg depending on the number of fights you completed. This makes grinding a much quicker and smoother process. You can also assign quick commands for auto-battles, turn battles off or raise the encounter rate, and a few new shortcuts have been added.
In addition, there's a new mini-game where you make stuffed toys for points, which can be used to improve your equipment for higher efficiency, and traded in for pg (money). There's also rebuilding as in the first game, which also includes another mini-game of sorts where you defend the space you're rebuilding.
The world is divided in to three main parts: Dungeons, towns, and overworld map. In dungeons you will battle monsters and traverse mazish locations, generally ending them with a boss fight. Towns are where you shop and socialize and rest after that dungeoning. And the overworld map is where you travel between these locations, also fight fights, and generally explore. Bravely Second retains the same gorgeous art style, and you'll be exploring old and new locations alike. Your destination will be marked on the overworld map with a yellow exclamation point, and sidequests will be marked with a blue exclamation point.
(In no particular order)
Yew: A young man and one of the three cavaliers of the Crystal Orthodoxy, he is naive in many ways, but generally wants to do good and holds steadfast in his conviction to rescue Agnes.
Edea: Making a return from Bravely Default, Edea has grown both in rank and in wisdom. She's become more of a leader, although she's still a big eater and has somewhat of a short temper.
Magnolia: A French speaking girl who claims to be from the moon, she has a special mission to defeat strange creatures known as Ba'al.
Tiz: Back from the brink of death with terrible hair, Tiz has become much more confident while retaining his caring side.
I enjoyed Bravely Second much more than the first game, so much so that I'm considering giving BD a second chance. The storytelling is excellent and ties in well with both the world and gameplay, and I found it to be much more subtle and less heavy handed than the first. I liked the new characters much more than I expected to and really grew to care for them throughout the journey. There were some great new job classes as well, and the game was made much more accessible with the new grinding system and an easy mode that was actually easy. There are difficulty settings for those who want more of a challenge, but I was glad to enjoy what this game had to offer at a pace I could keep up with without feeling overwhelmed. The locations are gorgeous as usual, and I found it to be improved in almost every way. The main negative for me is that it's easy to get burned out, which is similar to the first game, and I once again don't enjoy the nearly forcing me to be social in a game I don't care to be social in. With that being said, if you were a fan of the first, definitely give this one a try.
LIKED IT A LOT