Readers of this site might remember that in the mists of time long ago, I did a short review of Bravely Default, calling it one of my favourite games the year it came out. That was severely truncated because I could go on for ages about what I enjoyed in a very simple and highly enjoyable RPG. Bravely Second: End Layer is perhaps most noticeable for having a name that manages to be even more nonsensical than its first installment Bravely Default: Flying Fairy. There are so many, many jokes I could be making with that title, but they rely on knowledge of Bravely Default and honestly, I don’t want to go spoiling matters for you. Go play it if you haven’t already.
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, because I’m sure you play whatever game some random guy on the internet tells you to play, let’s talk about what’s coming in the sequel.
Bravely Second takes place five years after the events of Bravely Default, and sees the return of at least two playable characters from the first instalment: Tiz, who has been in a coma for the past five years, and Edea Lee, who is now Knight Commander of the land of Eternia. If you noticed that Edea’s name is a pun, well, welcome to Bravely Default! Everyone’s name is a pun that never ends. They are joined by two newcomers, Magnolia Arch who briefly appeared in the post Final Boss section of Bravely Default, and complete newcomer Yew Genealogia. Of the two, Magnolia is a bonus boss killer from the Moon, and Yew is a bodyguard to a playable character from the first game, Agnes. If you remember how easy it was to break the game and make your characters near invincible in the first instalment, you might be surprised to learn that he manages to let her get kidnapped quite early on, which is not a glowing recommendation for party inclusion.
The villain of this particular piece is called… Okay, seriously? Kaiser Oblivion? What chance did this guy have of not becoming a villain with a name like that? You know who the real villain of this piece is? Society.
Aside from the story, Bravely Second sees the return of the Job system from Bravely Default. Reminiscent of Final Fantasy V, Jobs will be earned throughout the game and assigned to party members. Playing as them long enough and earning enough AP through battle will allow access to new abilities, as well as allowing those abilities to be passed on to other classes to be used in tandem. Considering that the original Bravely Default allowed you to break the game in a ludicrous number of ways, the expanded job repertoire of Bravely Second should make that job even easier. Controversy has struck early, however, and the planned Tomahawk class which would use stereotypical Native American imagery has been replaced with… the Hawkeye class. Which uses stereotypical Cowboy imagery.
There were some doubts as to whether series artist Akihiko Yoshida would be returning following his departure from Square Enix, but he has laid such concerns to rest, and will be providing art for the series in the future. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Linked Horizon, which brought us the fantastic music of the first installment. Ryo of Supercell will be stepping up instead, and while Revo left big shoes, I’m confident that the series will continue to impress.
So from all indications, Bravely Second is going to be a stellar follow up to a fantastic game. The series draws a lot of comparisons to Final Fantasy X, so my only hope is that the third instalment does not involve an exploding Blitzball.
Yes, that’s a real thing.