Release date: April 15, 2016
Developer: Silicon Studio
The highly-anticipated sequel to the 3DS’s surprise hit from Silicon Studio – which was originally supposed to be a brand new Final Fantasy game before becoming Bravely Default due to its different sense of direction – is here. It reunites us with our favorite characters from the first game while introducing a few new ones to bring us a brand new story, and manages to keep the world as fresh and vibrant as ever. Get ready to embark on an incredible new journey traversing the familiar and unfamiliar in Bravely Second’s vast new world as you save Agnés, who now serves as Pope in a seemingly utopian world – that is, until a mysterious new Empire kidnaps her on the day a peace treaty was to be signed.
If you have played the original entry in the series, Bravely Second will feel extremely comfortable. Virtually everything is the same in terms of gameplay and how you go about exploring the world of Luxendarc. The Bravely and Default systems are still in place, allowing you to unleash extra turns or stock up on additional ones for extra strategy. You can also upload your data (typically attacks you do in battle that you can send off to help others), and partake in StreetPass support where you can use avatars of those that you pass by to aid you in battle. Whether you’re in the overworld, city, or dungeon, the bottom screen still provides you a map of your location, along with a sidebar that allows you to save, view your diary which provides you with information on just about everything in the game, your quests, and everything else the first entry had to offer.
Bravely Second also provides players with a brand new mini-game as well that serves in the same vein as Tiz’s Norende restoration from Bravely Default. This time, players will be tasked to help out with newcomer Magnolia’s home on the moon. Just like with Norende, the more townsfolk you have, the faster tasks will be completed as you play through the game and leave your 3DS on sleep mode. This can be further expedited by gaining StreetPass hits. Just like Norende’s mini-game, this one is also a nice little addicting addition to the experience and is fun to help out, which gives you even more to do with intermittent battles that range in all kinds of levels and types – not to mention it’s a great way to get items that’ll help you out on your journey.
One massive thing that I couldn’t help but notice with Bravely Second compared to its predecessor was that, graphically, it looks much better. It still has the same incredible art style, however the characters seem to be much larger and less “chibi” in a sense. Textures seem cleaner and dungeons are more lively with the wide array of enemies, colors, layouts, and overall visuals. It’s not a massive overhaul by any means, but there’s certainly an improvement in the design of it all. Assets just seem much more detailed and animated, while still retaining the beautiful watercolor-esque art direction Bravely Default brought to the table, which was also one of the highlights and most memorable parts of the game.
The music that goes along with you as you go on your journey is just as incredible as Bravely Default. There are a lot of tracks that are brought back that I got a thrill from hearing again, and entrances and the music involved from characters both old and new are such a treat to watch as you listen as well. The music complements the adventure through Bravely Second in such a way that it’s hard to believe there would be anyone who would play with the sound off while going through it. It’s just as important to the game as everything else, and, just like the first, I would love to see a live concert for the score of Bravely Second.
Those who enjoyed the challenges of the first title will still have plenty to look forward to in Bravely Second, but less so. The game doesn’t require as much of a grind, but if you’re like me and can’t help but do so in an RPG, then it’ll still welcome that type of playstyle. Bosses, though intimidating in appearance, aren’t as excruciatingly brutal as they used to be, which could work in the favor of some. Personally, I was okay with it. Though due to reduced challenge and simplicity of its plot, it’s not as long as the first one. While Bravely Default’s story was around 50-60 hours, with completionists looking at around 100-120 hours (this was me), Bravely Second can probably be completed at around an average of 30-40 hours depending on your strategy, playstyle, and choice of difficulty of course. Those looking to unlock everything from classes to items, weapons, and beyond are probably looking at around 80 hours of playtime. It’s not a drastic change, but significant enough. In this world where everyone is constantly busy – myself included – I was actually quite alright with this and actually found myself enjoying the game slightly more so than the first due to its accessibility, and I think this will welcome new players as well – especially those that feel this may be a grind fest and that happens to not be their style.
Taking place roughly two years after the events of the first game, players who have skipped Bravely Default and are beginning their adventure on Bravely Second will still be able to enjoy this title as it will catch you up on the important events of the first installment. However, it is highly recommended to play through the original first to get a feel for the world and what the characters really mean and their importance to the world of Luxendarc. There are a lot of nods and references to the first entry, and though it does mostly a good job at keeping you up-to-date and explaining the significance of it all, the emotional investment won’t be there without it, which I believe could hinder the game for most given its palpable story and elaborate characters and atmosphere. You really just have an appreciation for the game as a whole when you’re connected with the characters and all of the games contents. It’s a part of your soul.
Bravely Second is a massive treat to those who loved the first, as well as those that are starting out for the first time on this wonderful RPG experience. To me, it is hands down one of the best games the 3DS has to offer, and one of my personal favorites in the last decade, and Bravely Second is no different.
Bravely Second brings players back to the epic world of Luxendarc, making it an easy pick-me-up for those who played the first due to the familiarity of the battle system, towns, characters, and everything in between, while adding tons of new elements to keep it fresh and exciting. Some may feel that all Bravely Second does is give more Bravely Default, but it works to its favor. It doesn’t do anything too drastically different to make it feel like a different RPG gameplay wise, but with a new story and a different side of Luxendarc to explore, fans that appreciate the lore of Bravely Default have a lot to look forward to in Bravely Second while being emotionally invested and expanding the universe even more.