Ten Hours With The Excellent JRPG Bravely Second

Ten Hours With The Excellent New JRPG Bravely Second

Bravely Second, the appropriately titled sequel to Bravely Default, was released on March 27 in Australia, but was only released in North America today. Like its predecessor, Bravely Second is a smart, lighthearted role-playing game with killer combat and enough customisation to keep curious players occupied for quite some time. I've spent around ten hours with Bravely Second, and I like it a lot so far, although I wasn't expecting so much of it to feel so familiar. There are some new ideas, yes, but many of the mechanics, characters and even the towns and dungeons are reused from Bravely Default, where they felt a lot more novel. Two of your four party members — a wimpy savant named Yew and a French alien who calls herself Magnolia — are new characters; the other two — Tiz and Edea — return from the first game.

Still, the story seems fun and the combat is just as addictive as it was in Bravely Default. Some thoughts and impressions, bulletpoint-style:

  • Bravely Second's core rhythm won't surprise you very much. You'll visit towns, meet NPCs, fight through dungeons, find save points before every boss, unlock new character classes and so forth. Why change a formula that works?
  • The story is also fairly simple, from what I've seen so far: Bravely Default's Agnes, who has been promoted from Crystal Priest to Sexy Pope, is kidnapped by an evil masked emperor. Your party's job is to save her, which means travelling around the world map and revisiting the same cities and dungeons you saw in Bravely Default as you try to track down her whereabouts.
  • The brilliant random encounter slider returns, and it's oh-so-pivotal for a game like this because it lets you set your own pace. You can breeze through dungeons with combat off and then do some quick grinding to get your party levelled before each boss, or you can crank up the encounters and turn every enemy maze into a challenging gauntlet. Up to you!
  • There are also a couple of new features that make level-grinding way more palatable, like a chain encounter system that Stephen detailed here. (In short: beat a group of enemies in just one turn and you'll be approached by a second group that you can challenge for bonus XP.)
  • The bosses and even some regular baddies can be pretty damn tough, requiring effective use of the Brave/Default system — a mechanic that lets you borrow or store future turns in order to execute multiple actions at once — to make progress.
  • It's a smart mechanic that fits well with Bravely Second's class system. There are times when you may want your heavy-hitting Wizard to use all of her turns while your healing Bishop reserves turns for future use, and vice versa. Sometimes you'll just want to gamble on an all-out blitz in hopes that you can defeat your enemies before the turn is over.
  • Like Bravely Default before it, Bravely Second has a bunch of sidequests based around so-called Asterisk holders — bosses whose classes you can unlock once you defeat them. These sidequests present you with decisions that the game hopes will be morally ambiguous. One early quest, for example, surrounds a gem that creates water for a village of starving children. Do you want to leave the gem for them or give it to the neighbouring university for research, where it could theoretically be used to end hunger and create world peace?
  • In theory, this could be an interesting way of telling stories, but in practice, it's not, because each choice also has an effect on gameplay. Each choice revolves around two Asterisk holders — in the gem's case, the Thief and the Red Mage — and you'll have to fight whichever one you pick against. Beating that boss will get you his or her job. The other will disappear. So if you're anything like me, you'll be making these moral decisions not based on what you think is right, but based on which class you want for your party. Swing and a miss for Bravely Second.
  • The character Magnolia, who comes from the Moon, explains several times to the party that her job is to defeat a race of malicious aliens called the Ba'al. Her title, she explains with no irony, is Ba'al Buster.
Ten Hours With The Excellent New JRPG Bravely Second

Bravely Second is a silly video game. I'm looking forward to playing more.


Comments

    I love it. The only jrpg I've liked in years. Mainly because it makes the grind easy and fun I guess? It's also pretty funny.

    I loved Bravely Second. Like the article said, the quality of life enhancements were well thought out and made the game easy to play and thoroughly enjoyable. Like with Bravely Default, experimenting with different combinations of jobs and abilities was encouraged (and if you found good combinations, made combat a breeze). If I have a criticism, it's that the last Asterisks you get are close to the end game, so you don't get much of a chance to really play around with them.

    Played it. Finished it. Loved it.
    It also doesn't suffer the problem of Bravely Default's repeating chapters, which is an absolute godsend.

    that was the only downside about this game i found.

    I enjoyed the time repeating itself paradox in the original.
    but i can understand alot of people don't like it since every time i see a show that repeats itself for a while people get angry (Which is stupid as fuck)

    My goto example would be the new Anime RE:Zero the first 3 episodes are repeating the same day in a time loop and i LOVED this and hoped it continued other people were getting pissed off which i won't ever understand why.

    Time loops and there repetition are amazing to some of us horrid to others XD

      With Bravely Second, if you didn't realise that there was a very specific thing that you needed to do at a very specific time, you'd be in a really annoying infinite loop, wondering why the game hasn't ended yet...

        won't lie nearly replayed the game and thought ...yeah this ain't right and googled it

      You should watch the Endless Eight arc of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and see if you still hold the same opinion. ^_-

        I loved the Endless Eight Arc though... ;-; i'm the only one that ever did it seems.

    If you loved everything about Bravely Default, or just enjoyed the game for the job system then Bravely Second is for you. For anyone else though it's a tough sell because not much changed between the games so if you disliked or had no interest in the first game then there is little to convince you to have another try. What it does change though is for the better and the game feels more like a second attempt at getting it right, which kind of makes the name appropriate.

    Perhaps my biggest disappointment with the game is that they kept the slider and added in chain battles and more auto-battle options. On their own they're great ideas but together they still indicate that the designers knew that encounters and grinding were a problem and didn't reassess their design. Kind of like building a better horse instead of inventing the car. It's even more confusing when you look at the fact that despite all these tools being given to you to alleviate the pain, they still limit the JP battle reward to 999 when jobs are the main reason you're grinding.

    It's poor design decisions like that that keeps the game from being more enjoyable and from being a strong competitor in the JRPG space. The first game came out when JRPGs were scarce and people were hungry for them but this time around it's coming out in a year with some really strong titles and a glut of JRPGs in general so it needed to stand out more. That being said, I liked the game and it's great for just passing time but I don't think it's enough to make me want a third game.

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