If you ever loved playing through games like Final Fantasy VI and wondered if role-playing games would ever return to that formula again, then you’re just in luck. Bravely Second: End Layer is the sequel to Bravely Default for the Nintendo 3DS and developed by Square Enix. Like its predecessor, Bravely Second encourages you to take risks in battles for large rewards while formulating smart strategies against many different kinds of enemies. While the story isn’t always the most fleshed out tale to follow, there are some parts that will have nostalgic RPG enthusiasts grinding through Bravely Second’s tougher battle sections and weak dialogue.
The story of Bravely Second can be either hit or miss for some. There are a lot of twists and turns, as well as shocking moments, throughout the drama that makes up what is supposed to be an epic tale. However, a lot of the information given to you ends up being forgettable as you play through the story.
There are moments that nod to the story of Bravely Default, with a few returning characters and hidden easter eggs you can find. Although it’s not necessary to play through Bravely Default to understand the plot or care for the characters in Bravely Second, knowing about what happened before will make everything in Bravely Second feel much more important.
Classic role-playing games have always had beautifully drawn environments and maps to traverse, and Bravely Second is no exception. The world map is large and contains many sections that range from bustling towns for buying items, to dark caves with all kinds of secrets to discover. The inside of buildings and houses are intricately detailed much like the outside landscapes and environments.
This is complimented by the designs of enemies and allies you encounter over the course of Bravely Second’s main story, which maintains the chibi-style from Bravely Default. The written and spoken dialogue can be a bit shallow at times, especially since it tries hard to sound similar to dialogue from older Square Enix games. Often characters will speak with the intention of being serious, but instead unintentionally end up sounding very silly.
The battles are what make Bravely Second stand out from other role-playing games. The risk and reward system returns from Bravely Default, but now has a few extra tweaks to make fighting and leveling up much better. The combat is still turn-based at the core, but you can take extra turns right away to set up for quick victories and even higher rewards, but at a huge risk to being defenseless should your tactics fail.
This allows you to think strategically in every battle against enemies and discover different ways for approaching the same types of enemy. The job system in Bravely Second, inspired by Final Fantasy V, opens up many attacks and abilities that can be mixed between 30 different job classes. Unlike before in Bravely Default however, changing classes doesn’t have a huge negative effect on your overall stats. There are changes to your attack and defense stats, but not too drastically as before.
Bravely Second: End Layer is a great role-playing games for those who have an affinity for older Square Enix games. There isn’t anything new or revolutionary here, but the overall experience is still enjoyable if you love beautifully stylized role-playing games. If you loved Bravely Default, then chances are you’re going to enjoy playing through Bravely Second despite its shortcomings. The dialogue and narrative may be a little cringe worthy for some, but the deep strategic combat and job system will have many grinding for experience for a long time.
This review was based on a physical review copy of Bravely Second: End Layer for Nintendo 3DS provided by Nintendo.