So, you’ve returned. Do you still remember? I welcome you back to Luxendarc, two years following the events of the Great Chasm, when the crystals fell into a deep darkness. The world has been at peace and the war between the Crystal Orthodoxy and the Duchy of Eternia has since been ceased. Though that was then. And now, a new tale must be told…
Bravely Second: End Layer follows the long journey of Yew Geneolgia, a young knight from Gathelatio, where he will loose close friends but create new faithful companions, on his quest to save her holiness, Agnès Oblige, and discover the deep, dark secret of the Kaiser Oblivion.
Will Bravely Second: End Layer take home the gravy, or is it as weak as an Appling? Find out in our review after the break!
Bravely Second: End Layer
Developed by Silicon Studio
Published by Square Enix
Released: 26th February 2016 (EU) – 15th April 2016 (NA)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Your journey begins right in the midst of battle, an unwinnable battle at that. You, Yew Geneolgia, along with Janne Angard and Nikolai Nikolanikov, make up the Three Cavaliers of Crytalguard. The Kaiser Oblivion and Airy ambush the cavaliers only to abduct her holiness, Agnés Oblige. With some pot luck, Yew was able to recover from his fatal wounds from the exhausting battle, only to discover the wounds have dug deeper into the Crystalguard, the knights who serve the crystals. And thus Yew’s journey begins to stop the world of Luxendarc from falling into the hands of the Kaiser Oblivion; but just who is this corrupt yet alluring Kaiser?
Those who have played its predecessor should be very familiar with Bravely Second as it takes place in the same world and plays very much the same, with plenty of new areas and mechanics to keep things fresh. Those who have yet to play Bravely Default may find it advantageous to play it before braving Bravely Second, though it isn’t necessary to enjoy the game’s story; luckily you can get the gist of the story so far through a cut-scene played the first time you launch End Layer.
All the battle mechanics from Bravely Default return in Bravely Second. As with most turn-based RPGs, you take turns to attack your foe, almost all enemies are encountered at random. Throughout the course of the game, you will obtain asterisks, these relics unlock up to 30 different jobs, from Charioteer to Summoner. Each job gives you different abilities to perform, more of which are unlocked as you level up. You an also set up a secondary job to mix and match abilities and cause some devastating attacks. Though only the job chosen as your main will level up, you can change these as often as you see fit. Many jobs return from Bravely Default, though there are some new entries such as Exorcist and Fencer.
While battling, you also have the option to Brave and Default. Defaulting will make a character in your party to defend themselves and skip their turn, but by doing so, they gain a Bravery Point (BP). Once you have gotten up to three BP, you can use them to enact up to four moves in one turn, though you must do so strategically. If you Brave into negative BP, that character will be completely vulnerable to heavy attacks until your BP is replenished. Another returning mechanic is Bravely Second. By using Sleep Points (SP), you can freeze time at any point during a battle, even during an enemy attack. You then choose any member of the party to make a move, each move will deplete 1 SP. This function is particularly useful if you are in a bit of a pickle to even out the odds. SP will regenerate every 8 hours of the 3DS/2DS system being on (even in sleep mode) and you can have up to 3 SP at a time. If you aren’t too keen in waiting, then you can use real currency to purchase drinks that regenerate your SP by 3.
If you are still in a bit of a jam (or gravy) you can also summon registered friends, and strangers from StreetPass. They will then perform an attack they registered to their character to assist you in battle. If you wish to return the favour, you can send out your own attacks too. The more you summon your friends, the stronger your affinity becomes, which will increase the strength of the attack too.
When you finish a battle, you will be rewarded with ‘pg’ (the in-game currency), experience points, job points, and (from time to time) consumable items or gear. If you want to boost these rewards further then the newly introduced, Consecutive Chance mechanic, can help. If you are able to defeat all enemies within the first turn, you are given the chance to take on even more challengers. You better not be taking on consecutive challenger willy-nilly though, as your BP from the previous battle will carry on to the next, so a foolish dive into your next battle may very well be your last. If you have planned accordingly, this is one of the best ways to really do some level grinding.
Another new feature that can be useful for level grinding is Auto Battle. If you want to remove the effort on continually choosing the exact same moves over and over again, you can save up to three move sets, turn on auto battle, and just watch your faithful companions carry out the same moves quickly without even lifting a finger. If it looks like your friends are going to enter a bit of trouble, just turn off auto-battle before the beginning of your next move and cast some healing magic to catch a breather.
If you are wanting to explore the land of Luxendarc without the worry of randomly encountering loads of monsters, then you can actually decrease the encounter rate so that you can come across half as many meanies, or none at all (excluding bosses of course). Be warned though, choosing this option for too long will hinder your progress of levelling up, making even the easiest boss to defeat you with a flick of a finger. You can, of course, do the exact opposite and double the rate of encounters if you really want to level up quickly.
The game certainly does a fantastic job of introducing new players to some mechanics which could be perceived as confusing… well most of the time anyway. There are some optional Tutorial Quests you can complete at pretty much any time. These introduce you to most of the main mechanics of the game as well as provide you with some useful tips and strategies. If you do what the quest says to do successfully, you will be rewarded with a useful consumable item the next time you check your Tutorial Quests, which is just a tap of the touch screen away. You also have the chance to encounter Party Chats. These are optional events where members of your party will talk about a relevant subject at certain points of the game. Not only do they provide some more depth to the characters of the game, but they may also hint at some incredibly useful strategies.
Generally, the story is absolutely fantastic! It’s very captivating and there are loads of twists and turns which help to keep you clinging on for more. For example, who knew that …. would …. to …. at ….! Want to know what I am talking about? Then play the darn game! My only concern with story, even though I love the personalities of each character, it can sometimes seem like the comedy is a bit forced. I admit, I did chuckle slightly when Magnolia claims she is a Ba’al Buster (though that may just be my immature sense of humour), but there are times where it just felt like the writers relied on the same joke too often. Even some of the voice acting can cause one to cringe. For example, I know Yew is sixteen and all, but his pubescent braking-voice sounding battle cries just remind me too much of a very dark time… puberty. Yes, I am of course nit-picking when I talk about this, but I have to say at least something negative… right?
Want to take some time out from the main story? There are plenty of options for that. There are several side stories which will unearth Edea’s past, as well as some old meanies from the previous game. You will face an important decision to make near the end of each story. You’ll need to choose carefully however, as depending on which choice you make will result in a different asterisk to obtain.
Early on in the game, you will encounter a rather eccentric French woman who hails from the moon. Her name is Magnolia Arch, and she’s a Ba’al Buster. Those who do not know, Ba’als are super strong, super evil, and super scary beings who just love to cause destruction. Soon before the events of Bravely Second, a incredibly strong Ba’al destroyed the town where Magnolia lived. With the help of StreetPass, you can help to rebuild the town throughout the course of the game. Every StreetPass encounter will increase the town population. You can assign members of the population to work on buildings and roads. Buildings can give you special items, whereas roads will unlock areas to work on. It usually takes several hours for production to finish, though the more people you assign, the quicker it will take to finish your work.
From time to time, some Ba’als may rear their ugly faces, especially when you take some StreetPass hits. You could just run in guns blazing, but unless your party are at an exceedingly higher level than the Ba’al, then you will likely fall in battle rather quickly. Instead, you should use your star ships that you get from StreetPass hits to rough them up a bit, then go in for the kill for some exceptional rewards.
Should you decide to take a break from battling altogether, you could set some time aside for Chompcraft. This cute mini game gives your party the chance to make some Chompers, cute plushy monster toys. Your party will toil away endlessly and automatically, assuming you are on the Chompcraft screen and that the 3DS/2DS system is on. You can purchase upgrades using Chomp Currency (cp) for your tools to improve efficiency, rarity rate, etc. At first, the game may seem a bit pointless, but after a while, you can exchange cp for some well earned pg… though I am still convinced that this is all a ploy for slave labour. At least you can listen to the game’s beautiful soundtrack which you unlock as you make progress.
The game may not look as graphically advanced as games like Xenoblade X, but that doesn’t mean that Bravely Second doesn’t look beautiful. The hand-drawn style ads that extra charm to the world of Luxendarc, something that definitely takes advantage of the 3D effect. When you turn the 3D on, the world looks like a beautiful cut-out diorama, if you stay still for a while, the camera will zoom out and expose the true beauty of the towns, villages, and even the dungeons. Oh, and for those of you who prefer hearing the original Japanese voiceovers, you’ll be happy to hear that you can chose whether to hear the Japanese or English voice cast at any time during your adventure.
Bravely Second: End Layer is a conventional JRPG at its core, but once you have played it for more than a half hour, it is clear that it is so much more. It is very similar to Bravely Default in how it plays and the fact that you resist some of the same areas and characters. Though this is true, it is still a fantastic game which offers a new story and unique gameplay. Whether you are making strategic battle moves or rebuilding a lunar town, there’s a bit of everything to do. Aside from the very minor complaints about the forced humour, we would definitely recommend Bravely Second: End Layer.
If you are looking for a fantastic JRPG with a captivating story and a unique battle system, or if you were a fan of the original, then Bravely Second is the game for you. If you find random encounters annoying in an RPG or just generally don’t like RPGs, then perhaps you should give it a miss, though I would still recommend it… or at least try the demo on the eShop!
Final Rating – 5 out of 5
Bravely Second: End Layer will be released for the Nintendo 3DS family systems on the 26th February 2016 in Europe, and the 15th April 2016 in North America. It has already been released in Japan.