It’s great to see JRPG’s get another movement on the Nintendo front this year, along the same lines that we saw in the heyday on the Sony PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast. Well, okay, maybe not THAT much, but you get the idea – they’re getting great exposure again, and fans are enjoying them in droves, I’ll bet.
Now fans have one more to indulge in with Bravely Second: End Layer, the long-awaited follow-up to Bravely Default. It has a lot in common with the original game, featuring an elaborate storyline and plenty to do in the land of Luxendarc. I won’t dare spoil it here – that would kind of mess up the story – but fans will certainly enjoy it. That said, it isn’t quite as exquisite as I was hoping it would be.
The setting can change quite a bit within the game, sometimes getting confusing in terms of what type of game it is. But the characters stay true, with a lot of favorites from Default making a return. That said, their dialogue isn’t always on point. There are some weird emotional moments that interrupt the proceedings a little too broadly, keeping the game from reaching the heights that the developers originally intended. That’s not to say it weighs everything down, but you can definitely feel it.
Fortunately, there’s more than enough action to go around, thanks to beautiful turn-based combat. The same Brave and Default systems make a comeback, with plenty of points to be used during turns, as well as plenty of dangerous moves to make, some that could work better to your benefit. It seems a little better tuned this time around, where your decisions actually count more than ever before. That’s one improvement I was happy to see.
The abilities also play a tremendous part, as each character seems to have something to offer. Jobs also come into play over the course of the game, as you can use different classes (ranging from warriors to cat people – not from that 80’s movie, mind you) to make them better. With 30 to choose from and two available to a character at a time, there’s a lot of variety – and doing new stuff is as easy as making a different decision.
That said, not every mission is perfect in the game, as some annoyances came up with the side quests, like having to choose party members when their conflict wasn’t necessary, and the story getting in the way again as a result. Again, this could’ve used a lot of smoothing over – and maybe not so much tinkering from the game’s import material. (This was noted quite a bit for fans, and now it’s easy to see why.)
At least the pacing with the game keeps up, and the ability to use secondary items, notably the Consecutive Chance, will let you stay in battle just a little bit longer. This allows you to develop chain skills, which are going to come in handy during later battles. Just be prepared to see some familiar territory from the first game – though fans may certainly appreciate that.
The presentation is pretty good – not exactly leaps and bounds over what Default had to offer, but a nice continuation at least, with many solid animations and well-represented cities. The music isn’t half bad either, but the corny dialogue will more than likely turn you off of any adventurous move. Not every line is bad, but enough of it makes you feel as if it could’ve gone through a big rewrite stage. And one for the better, if that.
In the end, it was hard to really sum up my feelings exactly with Bravely Second. So much goes right with it – combat, characterization, visuals – but it also has its problems that keep it from attaining greatness – like the story and the weird dialogue. Fans of the original will feel right at home with it, but others may want to wait a little bit, just to see what other great JRPG’s are waiting down the line. The ones without gaping story issues, mind you.