Loading...

March 28, 2016

Bravely Second: End Layer is the sequel to Silicon Studio’s Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies. I took notice of the first game because of the stunning visuals in the artwork, trailers and initial screenshots. Once I actually got a hold of it, I fell in love with its gameplay above every other aspect, with its innovative take on classic turn-based combat. It was soured only by the repetitive end game, which made for a frustrating finish to what would otherwise have been an incredible game I would have recommended to just about anyone. Despite this, I came into Bravely Second with high hopes.

Bravely Second picks up the story two years after the previous game, with the world of Luxendarc in a state of peace following the last game’s journey to put an end to the warmongering Eternian Empire. The current Pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy, Agnès Oblige, was kidnapped by a man calling himself the Kaiser. One of the brightest of the Pope’s personal Crystalguard, Yew Geneolgia, set out to rescue her, accompanied by Tiz and Edea from the last game and a woman named Magnolia who hailed from the Moon. Along the way, they also have to fend off fearsome beasts known as Ba’al, which have recently begun appearing in Luxendarc.

I enjoyed Bravely Second’s story. At first I didn’t think it was anything special, but after a certain point, the plot became far more interesting, and I was especially impressed with the way Silicon Studio implemented the gameplay to enhance the storytelling. It’s not something I see very often, and without going into any detail so you can experience it properly for yourself, the way it added player interactivity to the game delighted me. Another thing that made me love the journey so much was the characters and their dialogue. It’s a very well-written, pun-filled game, and it’s easy to see the writers had a lot of fun with the localisation process.

The voice actors did an outstanding job with with their roles, making the writing far more engaging than it would have been without them and wonderfully bringing the whole thing to life. There seemed to be some kind of issue with parts of the recording; some of the female voices sounded hollow and like they had a lisp. I eventually got used to it, but it was jarring to listen to, and I honestly have no idea what caused it or how it could have happened.

Bravely Second’s aesthetics are excellent. The series retains its gorgeous art style and marvellous soundtrack I especially love some of the boss music, as well as the various character themes, some of which were lifted from the first game.

A lot of people, particularly friends overseas, have asked whether Bravely Second does the same thing Bravely Default does in the endgame: Does it (for reasons I won’t go into so as not to spoil the plot) make you fight the same boss battles some four or five times to reach the true ending? The answer, I am pleased to report, is no. If you were concerned about having to go through that crap again, don’t be.

Battle in Bravely Second is of a classical turn-based variety but with its own twist, which players of the original game will be familiar with. In addition to regular and MP-consuming attacks, you can choose to ‘Brave’ or to ‘Default’. Choosing to Brave allows you to take turns in advance so you can execute multiple attacks all at once. Defaulting has the character defend and saves up one BP, or ‘Brave Point’. If the number of BP a character has drops into negative territory, they will be unable to act for a couple of turns until their BP comes back up to zero at a rate of one per turn. It’s an interesting high-risk high-reward mechanic that can work in your favour or see you get killed over a miscalculation.

You can assign characters to different jobs or classes, which will affect their stats and the abilities they are able to use. Each character will level up their jobs as they fight, unlocking new skills as they go. In addition to being at the appropriate job level, magic-wielding classes will also need to get the scrolls related to each magic type in order to use their spells. There are 30 jobs available in the game, some of which are found in the main story, and the rest of which are gained via sidequests.

Sidequests unlock as you advance the plot, and will show up on your map with a blue marker. Each one presents two jobs, but makes you select one, throwing in an ethical dilemma for you to ponder throughout the quest. Forcing this choice annoyed me; I just wanted to choose my jobs based on which one I would prefer. Your decision doesn’t matter anyway, as you get you get to repeat these quests later in the game anyway, cheapening the impact of your initial choice. The alternative would have been to prevent the player from completing the second half and gaining all the jobs, which would have irritated me even more as I’d have been locked out of skills and abilities. Neither of these outcomes are good, and it makes me wonder why they even implemented this system in the first place; why couldn’t the game have had us unlock some jobs through new sidequests or different means?

The sidequest system has you performing the exact same thing twice, and this is one example of an issue I had with this game: Its recycling of material — both from itself and from the original game. This includes art from various places in the world that were present in the previous game, as well as pieces of the soundtrack.It’s not something that was a huge deal for me, but it did come across as somewhat lazy.

A totally new and optional mini-game is chompcraft, which sees the party creating adorable plush toys. The toys you make can be sold for chomp points, which in turn can be exchanged for pg, the game’s currency; they doesn’t do anything else. Your chompcrafting abilities can be improved by upgrading your party’s tools. It’s an addictive game that makes for a fun way to earn some pg.

StreetPass, SpotPass and your 3DS friends list all have roles in Bravely Second. You can attach one friend to one of your party members, allowing that party member to use skills that friend has unlocked, even if your character has yet to sufficiently level themselves up. In battle, friends and people you meet via StreetPass can be summoned to execute a special move. You get to choose which move you send to other people by selecting an option from the menu in a battle, and you can change it at any time during any battle.

Collecting friends via StreetPass will also assist in the game’s town rebuilding sidequest, which sees you rebuild Magnolia’s home on the Moon. You can also get five people a day via SpotPass if you have an Internet connection. These people can then be put to work reconstructing the town, rewarding you with free items from time to time and improving the inventory of the wandering red salesperson who shows up before each boss fight. The village contains a number of powerful Ba’al for you to defeat, which get refreshed every time you choose to update your data via the Internet and whenever you StreetPass with someone. You can weaken them using battleships piloted by your friends or by bots before you fight them, dropping their level over time. Defeating them nets you a lot of experience, which isn’t affected by how much you drop their level with the ships; I’ve killed a few in one hit after dropping its level from 50 or 60 to 1, so it can be a nice way gain experience.

Other elements of the gameplay have been improved as well. A favourite of mine is the ability to chain battles together for extra rewards and multipliers; it makes grinding much, much faster. There are also more options for the auto-battle feature, so your allies can grind even without your input, as well as a range of other new additions.

Bravely Second allows you to play again in New Game +, so you can restart with all your jobs and experience. I’d clocked up a little over 50 hours when I finished Bravely Second, having done most sidequests and acquired about two thirds of all the jobs.

Bravely Second: End Layer took the first game’s already refined formula and polished it further, with the new gameplay changes only improving the experience. The plot and characters were more memorable than the last game’s, and the dialogue was top-notch. It looks good, it sounds good, and is simply fun to play, retaining the best parts of classic RPGs while adding modern touches and convenience. Bravely Second is a must for just about any RPG fan; it won’t disappoint.

February 7, 2019

Did you know that the Nintendo 3DS is eight years old? It’s weird to think about, and it sure makes me feel old. Although the little system becomes overshadowed more every year by its newer sibling, the Nintendo Switch, it’s still the chosen platform for some spectacular game releases that wouldn’t really fit anywhere else. Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr’s Journey is one of those games. When the original Bowser’s Inside Story released in 2009 for the Nintendo DS, it was praised for how well it used the system’s dual screens; shifting between perspectives is visu...

November 20, 2018

Luigi’s Mansion is, for various reasons, one of my favourite games of all time. I’ve finished it at least six or seven times since its 2001 release, including an almost-complete gold portrait run, and I’ll jump at any chance to replay it (though not as much as a friend of mine, who’s finished the game 31 times). The trailer for the 3DS version filled me with equal parts excitement and apprehension: It’s now accessible for a new generation, but how can you improve on the original game’s simple perfection? Once again, I picked up the flashlight and ventured into Luigi’s Mansion. T...

August 26, 2018

If I told you to imagine a game where you smash pots and whack baddies with your sword, what would you think of? How about a game where you use items to solve dungeon puzzles, and collect all sorts of goodies along the way? Well, it’s not the game you’re thinking of…probably. It’s something a bit more off-beat, with more ‘rainbow’ than ‘bow and arrow’: It’s The Swords of Ditto, a roguelike action-adventure RPG developed by Onebitbeyond. Your game begins with you being awakened on the beach (strong Link’s Awakening vibes here) by Puku, a mysterious beetle-like creature....

June 13, 2018

After some great and not so impressive conferences at this year’s E3, Nintendo was highly anticipated to bring us some juicy news. With the potential for some much wanted first-party titles for Switch, I stayed up until past 2am with high hopes for news on Pokémon, Animal Crossing, and more. With caffeine and sugar in my system, my body was ready. Like previous years, this year’s presentation followed the Nintendo Direct format,. The show began starting on a less colourful note with Demon X Machina, a mecha game for the Switch. Following this was Xenoblade 2 Story DLC ‘Torna –...

June 12, 2018

In my first year of university, I saw a jock-looking dude walking around wearing his ‘Class of 2005’ high school top; nothing out of the ordinary, I was sure he was well beloved by his peers. In my final week of study, I saw that same guy wandering around the campus by himself, slumped shoulders still adorned by that very same top — this was in 2009. Sony’s E3 Showcase this year reminded me of that guy still clinging to the glory of past years. This was most evident during the special presentation for The Last of Us Part II. This was Sony at its most self-indulgent. It gathered gu...

June 12, 2018

Ubisoft is one of the few gaming monoliths that can still surprise us. Who would’ve thought that Assassin’s Creed: Origins would mark the franchise’s return to form? Who could’ve predicted  the critical successes of Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle? This was reflected in previous years through Ubisoft’s E3 presentations, which were always the most interesting and unpredictable, backed by an sincerity unmatched by any other company. It’s curious, then, to see Ubisoft pump the brakes with this year’s showing. Beyond Good and Evil 2 closed off last year’s show, so it’s fitting ...

June 11, 2018

Bethesda had an interesting 2017. Despite a lacklustre trip to Bethesdaland and reports that several of its games didn’t meet sales targets, the company was still the number one publisher on Metacritic, a fact proudly claimed by Senior VP of Global Marketing Pete Hines. Though if this year’s E3 press conference is any indication, 2018 and beyond are going to be very big and important years for the publisher. The show kicked off quite literally with a bang as inspirational speaker Andrew W.K. and his band introduced us to to the recently unveiled Rage 2, as well as endless shots of aud...

June 11, 2018

The Xbox One has arguably provided the better experience in recent years. Its Backwards Compatibility program has given new life to old games, and the Xbox Game Pass has given users a healthy library of legacy titles. However, the console is behind in one regard: New games. In order to furnish its seemingly lacking game library, Microsoft is looking outward, including to places we wouldn’t normally expect. The common criticism was that Microsoft isn’t producing first party games to the same extent that Sony is. To address this, Xbox lead Phil Spencer dedicated three or so minutes to a...

June 10, 2018

2017 was a disastrous year for EA, including a laughably bad E3 presentation and the Star Wars Battlefront 2 loot box debacle. The company has spent much of this year apologising for these decisions, and this formed a recurring theme during EA Play. Gone were the Influencers and Game Changers, the phrase “Creative Cave” was uttered precisely zero times and EA CEO Andrew Wilson was limited to two appearances, one of which was to effectively apologise for the company’s actions. This year, EA delved extensively into sci-fi, shooters and sports and, with a couple of exceptions, provided a co...

May 31, 2018

Over the years, I’ve had the Shin Megami Tensei series recommended to me a lot by my friends. I’m weak for an in-depth game with a good challenge, and I’m (shamefully) partial to grinding in RPGs. I’d played through a few of the Persona games and enjoyed them immensely, so I was curious to see how I would enjoy the gameplay of a mainline Shin Megami Tensei title. Maybe I also wanted the opportunity to hang out with Jack Frost and Mothman, the most adorable demons, but that’s another story for another day. Regardless of the reason, it was time for me to finally play a real Shin Megami...

February 10, 2018

In September 2017, during a particularly exciting Nintendo Direct (Super Mario Odyssey, anyone?), there was a title that you might not have noticed: That game was New Style Boutique 3: Styling Star for Nintendo 3DS. Known as Girls Mode in Japan and Style Savvy in North America, it’s understandable if you’re confused or you’ve never heard of this series before. Even the name may make you think of all the female-oriented shovelware games you see at EB, but the New Style Boutique games are an underrated gem; their longevity, and the fact that it’s a series that continues to get sequels, ...

Show More Blogs
Latest Videos
Latest Photos & Events