Bravely Second End Layer is the sequel to Bravely Default taking place two years after the events from the first game. Peace has now been brought to the Crystal Orthodoxy and the Templars but during peace talks, Agnes the new pope, is kidnapped by the Kaiser Oblivion. Agnes was the Crystal Vestal from Bravely Default. Yew, one of Crystal Orthodoxy’s soldiers and leader of the three cavaliers decides to find Agnes and to figure out who is the Glanz Empire and also who is really behind the chaos events in Luxendarc again. Eventually this leads a more sinister plot that is an even more dangerous threat to Luxendarc than the Glanz Empire.
This introduces the new protagonist of the story Yew Genolgia. He is part of the three Caviliars who are the elite guard of the Crystal Orthodoxy tasked with protecting Agnes. He is the typical stock type hero but a rookie to the more experience party members. Yew is overeager and is quite idealistic. His family the Genolgia, is a notable family in the Crystal Orthodoxy with Yew as its head. The Glanz Empire villains are quite unique and they all have different motivations for opposing the Crystal Orthodoxy. They are not totally evil nor are they heroes either.
In the past, the Crystal Orthodoxy was very corrupt and evil they were responsible for murders and many war crimes that led to the Templars to oppose them. These two groups were both just as bad as each other. The Glanz Empire comprises of victims of the Crystal Orthodoxy's war crimes and their goal is to overthrow the Crystal Orthodoxy and their allies by any means necessary. They also plan on sabotaging the crystals to create strife within the Crystal Orthodoxy, Templars and Luxendarc. The Glanz Empire was very intriguing and completely different from the other villains.
You can equip a larger variety of weapons, armor and accessories in the game. Each equipment has its own strengths, status elements and weaknesses based on which class you are in and what party member you are using. A ring can increase agility while decreasing defense. Certain accessories can provide complete immunity to status ailments like poison. Each weapon and piece of equipment will increase stats depending on the job you have.
Many weapons and equipment from other Square Enix ips like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy are in this game. Even some weapon from mythology, like Excalibur, are in this game.Some even fictional mythology weapons like the Excalibur appears. New types of weapons from rifles to great swords are added. Each weapon has its own special attack like in Bravely Default where, after a certain amount of successful critical hits, you can use a special attack to cause massive damage to an enemy. You can also customize the special attacks. As you rebuild Fort Lune, you can select additional buffers from increased defense to elemental attacks. You can also choose which type of special attack you want to unlock.
You have 4 party members at a time and you can switch them around to see which party goes first. You will play as the member you placed first. The control system is the same as Bravely Default so newcomers and returning players should quickly familiarize with the gameplay. The world is larger in this game and a lot of new locations and cities are available to be explored as you progress. Each location had its own unique feel, Gathalatio has visual cues from Venice.
Dungeons are now more distinct from one another and they have their own unique 3D visual style and design unlike in the first game where it was more or less the same layout. Dungeons like the previous game has its own traps layer out and puzzle solving is a more important feature now. You have to turn off one switch to open on another door while closing another door in order to progress through the dungeon. Old Sagitta is a duneon where you have to look closely to see which invisible wall or floor you can pass through and find a way to unlock the crystals to help you get through to the next area. You can find treasure scattered across dungeons. There is a new recommended level range that shows which dungeon you should visit when you are at certain level.
The game continues the same themes as the first game borrowed from Final Fantasy but now some new elements like time travel and science fiction are added. Lunarians that appeared in Final Fantasy 4 makes an appearance in this game. Magnolia, a Lunarian is a Ba’ll buster. She hunts down these powerful and mysterious creatures that have suddenly appeared in Luxendac. Her home, the Moon, was ambushed and left in ruins due to the Ba’ll and she teams up with Yew to save Agnes, stop the BA’ll and the Glanz Empire. Magnolia is very curious about Luxendarc, its culture and locales and she often speaks in Moonlish which is the game’s version of the French language. She also has a devil may care personality and she is a very romantic person. Edea returns to the party as she goes off to save Agnes out of loyalty to her and she also teams up with Yew to also stop the Glanz Empire and the Ba’ll from invading Luxendarc. Tiz was in a long coma after the events from the first game. He wakes up and learns of dangers to their world and he eventually agrees to help Edea, Yew and Magnolia on their mission.
The story themes, both new and old are very interesting and familiar to Final Fantasy and Bravely players. Ask Agnes is a new feature replacing Airy and this provides a lot more in depth explanations and gives hints on how to proceed with objectives. Ask Agnes gives plenty of information over the period of the game on the lore and events from what has happened over the previous game. It also helps recap previous events for new players or for those who have forgotten. You can ask her various questions relating to the story and world of the game and this is also very helpful to you and your team on your journey.
Yew's diary is very similar to “D’s journal” in Bravely Default. It chronicles the events of the game covering many different topics from jobs, abilties, enemies encountered, progress you have made and journal entries from characters. It’s a very helpful encyclopedia and useful to keep track of your progress.
You can send and summon your friends like in the first game during combat and periodically they can be updated. The more friends you have or if you do not have friends, you can automatically get them from the adventurer during dungeon exploration or in towns you visit. You can also use ablink to share your special abilities with your friends. The adventurer that serves as a checkpoint in the game returns and now you can also buy emergency items from her at anytime. You can also rest before boss fights at dungeons for a fee when you visit her. As you progress, staying at a cottage becomes more expensive but when you visit the cottage, your health and magic points are fully restored and any status afflictions are completely removed. The adventurer’s companion the fox, serves a tent to rest in from time to time in dungeons which pops up a cutscene event between party members discussing what is happening in the game. There is plenty of party member cutscenes discussing the current events of the game. Any of the items you unlock will also be available to the adventurer while exploring dungeons or towns.
A pig in cities is introduced where you can now fast travel from city to city when you discover them. You can find hidden items scattered across the cities that are placed in areas where you would least expect them but finding them is worth the search. You can once again visit inns restoring health and curing status ailments whenever you visit towns. You can buy and sell different items and you can also buy costumes for your character to change into at anytime.
The map overhead makes a return in the game. The dynamic day and night system returns where quests can only be completed at certain times of the day. Certain enemies like supernatural creatures and zombies appear out in the night like in the last game. You can save anytime you are in the map overhead like in the last game.
You have various forms of transportation in the game. The boat you start with is the weakest form of transportation you have. You can only go through a certain path in shallow waters and its pretty restrictive. You eventually get a bigger ship which allows you to go to deeper waters. Once you upgrade to a flying ship there is no point in using any of the previous modes of transportation. The ship is also even a bathhouse where you can rest at anytime healing your character members from status afflictions and ailments. Auto pilot returns where your ship can go to the marked quest locations.
Side quests are now different and moral based. You are faced with several different situations and at the near end you have to make a decision to fight one boss and if you win you get a job asterisk while leaving out another job asterisk so choose wisely.
The Chompcraft is a new mini game where you and your party members create stuffed toys for extra financial support. You can select which music you want and you can unlock more tracks as you complete certain tasks in the mini game. You can upgrade your equipment for temporary boosts in efficiency and enhance the quality of the toys. The more expensive it is the more powerful the items.
Snack time speeds up the process greatly for a period of time and this occurs after a certain amount of time has passed during the minigame. Once you filled up the cartons of chompchains you can sell them off. Occasionally, depending on the quality of the chompchain, rare ones appear and the higher the quality of the equipment, the more value the rare chompchains are and the more likely they will appear.
My Set is a new feature added to combat against micromanaging. It allows you to save your characters equipment, abilities and job status so you don’t have to remember them. It saves time by giving you the previous set you had for your party members thus greatly reducing the time it takes to change your characters playstyle.
Rebuilding Fort Lune is similar to rebuilding Norrende in the first game. You can increase the population through streetpass from your friends at Nintendo WiFi and the bigger the population the less time it takes to rebuild Fort Lune. Some locations can take up 99 hours or 4 real time days. Rebuilding and upgrading buildings have many different benefits such as periodically you will get special items and equipment from time to time. The more you upgrade them the higher quality items you will receive. Building bridges will allow you to unlock more buildings to repair. You occasionally have to deal with special enemies as you continue to rebuild Fort Lune. Defeating them will give you powerful rewards. Ba'll buster ships are used to weaken any invading enemies passed through streetpass. You can rename the ships to any name you would like and they are used to defend Fort Lune. A radar can be used to detect any enemies coming to attack Fort Lune.
The graphics, visuals and artwork are almost the same as the first game but have been updated to a more realistic looking design while still keeping its Chibi anime like design. The updated character designs and graphics look good. The combat is more or less the same as the previous game where its turn based. New enemies appear and old ones return from the previous game and also from other Final Fantasy games.
Its quicker to get sp drinks now unlike in the first game even without putting the 3DS in sleep mode. But the microtransactions are still present forcing you to pay money in case you want extra sp drinks when you can just wait and grind for a while to get them instead. Bravely Second functions the same way as before slowing down time to attack enemies multiple times in a row. Boss fights require their own strategy to be defeated. One boss in particular has two heads and it absorbed healing from either physical or magic attacks depending on which head you hit. The quickest way to defeat one is to use a water based weapon and attacks for either head before a head regenerates.
Chain battles are introduced where after successful rounds, you can choose to do more rounds and as long as you do not take any hits you can keep on continuing as much as you like. The more battles you take, the harder it gets. Sometimes chain battles can happen unexpectedly when enemies will attack you by surprise. Winning them gives you extra job points, money and experience points. Certain conditions like killing enemies in one turn, taking no damage and in one round factors in giving you extra rewards like in Bravely Default. The down side to this is that you start off with the same amount of health, magic, and brave points you used so bad planning can potentially lead to an early death.
The balanced class system is much more forgiving and fair and this is greatly appreciated. Special encounters once again can occur in the game where you or the enemy has the first strike or has extra brave points. As in the previous game combat is strategic and methodical. Braving and defaulting works the same way with braving performing different types of actions but at the cost of losing turns. Defaulting si being on the defensive. When enemies strike, reduced damage is taken and you have extra brave points to take more turns. You can select which enemy you want to target such as casting a spell to all enemies or just one selected enemy.
Magic makes a return and you can learn various different returning and new spells in the game. Magic has new gameplay features in it. Spellcrafting is part of the spiritmaster class where you can choose a certain element like water and cast it as either a physical attack, wide range attack or a long distance dart attack. You can inflict status inflictions to enemies but they can also afflict inflictions on you as in Bravely Default. Its game over if your party members all die. You can escape combat in most situations like before.
Auto combat has added new features where you can equip 4 different sets of auto attacks and choose which one you want to go and you can also turn this on and off at anytime during the overhead mode. New jobs have been added and new abilities are also included. There are about 30 jobs in the game. Defeating certain bosses will give you asterisks that unlock the classes. The older classes also have new abilities to unlock as well. In this game all of the support abilities slots have already been unlocked. You can level up your classes to unlock new special abilities and support abilities. You can also choose what you want to say after delivering a critical hit when the special ability of the weapon appears. You can also select abilities from other classes like the black mage or dark knight and use them from your current class like the freelancer.
The dark knight class functions the same as the previous game where half of your health is sacrificed for a powerful attack. Defeating enemies also occasionally drops items to use. You can now talk to cats in the game and you can feed them various different cat food and you get special rewards depending on the type of treat you give them.
The combat is overall very customizable and encourages experimentation with the classes, abilties and how you should plan for boss fights. The sound track is pretty good and it is rock oriented with more variety. There is a new composer Ryo from the band Supercell.
You can still adjust the encounter rate to either increase or remove the rate of combat entirely. New game plus returns where you can carry off your original gameplay data and select which chapter you want to go through.Chest keys return where you can unlock the blue chests containing rare and powerful equipment and items. The game also has an interesting use of the 3DS system, at the final boss fight, the game will try to delete your data but Yew will prevent it from doing so. You also even have to start new game plus at the end of chapter 4 to start chapter 5 as time will pause in the game and this sets off a time traveling event right to beginning to prevent Agnes being kidnapped.
The ar movie returns where it once again focuses on Agnes point of view and you can move around to change the direction of the screen. You can rewatch cutscenes and choose which language you want for subtitles and audio. You can buy and unlock new costumes for your party members.
The game has its flaws and many of it have been carried over from the previous game. The dialogue can be very cheesy and cringey especially with the use of millennial terminology and forced internet memes that really makes no sense in a fantasy setting. The writing of the story is just as cliched as previously. The team often gets backtracked and side tracked a lot during the story creating plenty of unnecessary padding and filler. The characters really remain mostly the same and are no different and the plot concept is almost the same as the first game. Anne is a carbon copy of her sister Airy from the first game and she is just as bratty, selfish and annoying as her sister. The game even opens up the same as its predecessor with the protagonist waking up and it also even recycles one cutscene from the previous game but altered somewhat.
There are many things recycled from the previous game like story ideas and gameplay assets. Some enemies can be damage sponges taking quite a long while to be defeated. The old dungeons are quite similar to Bravely Default. You already know your way around and how to reach the end, avoid the traps and find the treasure.
The moral situations for both sides were not great either as each was just as corrupt as the other. It would be better to have newly created characters representing the returning classes instead of having to reuse the old ones. It also does not make sense either having to refight them again just to have the other class you did not originally select. You can just get it from another side quest previously like in the last game. Several times you have to fight the same bosses over and over again and they are no different than when you previously fought them only with enhanced movesets and new abilities. The final boss at the second stage was similar to Lavos at his final stage in Chrono Trigger. In terms of story, he also has the same motivations as the previous boss Ouroboros and is almost like him in design and personality.
The game had the occasional technical issues like when one of the robotic enemies casted Reflect but casted Curaga or Thunder it bounced right back to them. They also removed the characters section of the lore which is pretty strange as many other JRPG games when they have a lore and diary section, they chronicle the characters you encountered over the game. There are no new areas to explore from the returning areas just the same design and locales.
To be honest this game was more of an expansion pack than it was a sequel but it improves on many aspects from the original.
I have to give the game 3 stars out of 5.
I would personally love to see this game evolve into its own story, gameplay and series and do its own thing instead of copying and rehashing heavily used concepts and ideas. I understand sticking to familiar territory and not doing something that’s radical that will alienate veteran players. The game would be a lot better if they refined and improve on what did not work and also add new mechanics that would provide different twists to create a completely original style gameplay instead of copying off from anyone else's formula.