Bravely Second: End Layer Review
Developer: Silicon Studio
Publisher: Nintendo of America
ESRB Rating: T
A Copy Was Purchased By the Reviewer
Bravely Second: End layer is the sequel to the 3DS RPG Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies. For this review there will only be a light summary of the plot and the demo will be mentioned due to it being a prelude to the main story of the game.
The story begins in the demo where Pope Agnès Oblige of the Crystal Orthodoxy has sent Yew Geneolgia, Janne Angard and Nikolai Nikolanikov, of the Crystal Guard to the education focused town of Al-Khampis to solve various problems its people are facing. They were to meet up with a person who would help guide them through town and that’s where Magnolia Arch, “Ba’al Buster,” comes into play. She claims she is their guide and helps them solve various problems despite the player quickly learning she is lying so that Agnes can fund the re-construction of her destroyed town. At the end of the demo it ends with Magnolia parting ways with Yew and thus begins the Main Plot of Bravely Second: End Layer.
The story kicks off with a battle against Kaiser Oblivion, the main villain of the game who is attempting to kidnap Pope Agnès to weaken the Crystal Orthodoxy so he can wage war against the kingdom of Eternia without anything standing in his way. Unfortunately, he succeeds and the Pope is kidnapped. Later, Yew wakes up in his home and re-unites with his friends. They took heavy damage from battle but are using the loss to motivate themselves to get stronger and defeat Kaiser Oblivion. As events unfold Yew teams up with Edea Lee, one of the characters from the previous game, and eventually re-unites with Magnolia Arch. We find out from Magnolia she is originally from the Moon and the reason why she is on earth is because her home was ravaged by creatures called, “Ba’als.” They are terrifyingly strong creatures who are coming to earth now to destroy anything in sight. Yew not only vows to stop Kaiser Oblivion and save Pope Agnès, he swears to Magnolia he will help her on her mission to destroy any Ba’al that invades earth in any way he can.
The story in this game is not as serious as it sounds, but the light hearted and serious moments don’t intertwine which gives more of an impact. The relationship between Yew and Magnolia that forms over time is especially cute and I always wanted to see where it would go next. The serious moments in the game are executed excellently and make me feel for these characters when it comes to these moments. The writing can be very silly at times when it comes to humor, but it only adds to the game’s charm and makes the characters endearing. Yew and his friends are still people at the end of the day with their own personalities. The world of Luxendarc tries to blend technology and magic together creating a modern medieval theme. This compliments the writing as well since at times characters talk using medieval prefixes and suffixes thanks to the role magic plays in the game, but they act with a modern attitude due to the advancement of technology
There are side events that happen periodically in the game that have the party members chat with each other about events that happen or just talk about themselves. These are purely optional but if viewed can shed some light on character motivations and their past. Most are very comical and light hearted but there are times where they’ll talk right after a tragedy and it makes these characters feel believable when they portray despair.
Over all, the story is excellent at what it tries to convey to the player and its writing is superb. This story is best enjoyed after playing Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies due to references and plot details of to the previous entry and the demo of Bravely Second End Layer. The combination of medieval themes and technology blend well and leads to creative uses of the games presentation.
The presentation of this game is very good due to the pop-up book design of the pre-rendered towns. The over world is not pre-rendered and that’s when the game’s visual design becomes very basic and at times very dated when it comes to some of the dungeons texture and aesthetics. Sometimes buildings will obstruct your view of the character but it is never an issue and winds up being a positive especially when turning on the 3D effect. The 3D effect emphasizes the style they are going for has backgrounds move back and the buildings in the front stay where they are. On the over world, battle and in dungeons the 3D effect is nothing special.
The character/enemy models are very good and try to match the official art design for the game. Their attack animations are well done and don’t look out of place or stiff. In terms of overall character designs some enemies come off as lame and uninspired. For example, there is an enemy that is just a bunch of apple slices combines to take the shame of an imp. The main cast of heroes and villains have variety in terms of how they look. However, Yew winds up being the blandest out of all of them. His short brown hair and knight outfit just don’t compare to Magnolia’s Modern outfit to signify that on the moon her culture leans more towards technology. The NPC’s have variety across towns but when it comes to each town individually its citizens are mostly re-colors of each other unless they are plot important or relevant to side quests.
The sound track is supreme, giving a mix of rock and orchestra to match the “modern medieval” theme. Stand out tracks being the Asterisk Boss theme exclusive to this game and the party chat theme. It is a high energy sound track with some somber and foreboding tunes to match those serious moments throughout the game. The voice acting also adds to the atmosphere or cheer that this sound track brings to the table as it is quite good in of itself. However, there are some roles that were not executed properly and wound up being comedic in dramatic moments and sounding forced. The game gives the option to turn off voices or play the Japanese audio if the player deems it necessary.
Over all the game excels at all areas that make up its presentation. The art design is very good utilizing the 3D effect excellently and giving a glorious sound track to go along with this epic quest. While there are areas of improvement in terms of enemy and character designs, and how some of the voices in the game came off as forced, it was still very satisfying to look at and listen to.
Bravely Second: End Layer is a traditional turn based RPG with a Job Class system with a nice twist. During battles players can choose to “default” on their turns to take less damage. This also gives the player 1BP. BP stands for “Brave Points” and it signifies how many extra attacks you can do that turn without having to rest on the next few turns. To do extra attacks in one turn you use the Brave command. Reminder that you only can use up to three brave points and you can only build up to three brave points using default. If you are confident in your party you can use three points right away to wipe out the enemy quickly. Though if your risk doesn’t wipe out the enemy, you’re vulnerable for three turns before you can act again. This type of risk versus reward battle system is quite refreshing and is also one of many tools in the game that helps grinding as you can fight another wave of enemies after the initial fight to build up more experience points if you defeat the first wave in one turn. As a warning your BP usage carries over so if your party is vulnerable, choose wisely if you want to continue. If your risk causes a party wipe out, it is game over and you restart from your last save point. Don’t worry though, as the game has the option to auto-save after entering any room in a dungeon or entering towns and the world map. So progress won’t be totally lost if you experience a game over. If you want to increase your chances to never see a game over it is highly suggested you buy new gear and weapons from shops in each town.
There is one more feature to battles called bravely second. Where if you store up 4 turns in your hour glass by keeping the game in sleep mode for a combined thirty-two hours or paying a fee via microtransactions. This allows you to stop time to use four brave points without any repercussions. After you use it you may act again which can potentially allow the player to act eight times in one turn with a single character. Just a reminder that the short cut to being able to freely use it involves microtransactions.
Jobs are where your characters’ main abilities come into play as they are how your party learns skills. Each character has a specific stat growth that may be more beneficial to use for certain jobs, however any character can use any job creating a completely customizable experience. In fact, you can use skills from one other job to benefit the one you are focusing on. For example, the black mage doesn’t learn party healing spells but the white mage does. So instead of having to pick between the two you can level up both jobs to be able to use skills from both classes. This does create a problem as sometimes it’ll be necessary to grind job points from enemies and since enemies aren’t bountiful when it comes to job points it can take a while depending on how much work the player is willing to put in. The Japanese version of Bravely Second: End Layer has a Job Class not present in localized versions of the game. This Job class was known as the tomahawk which gave characters the appearance of a Native American. In the English versions this class is now the Hawkeye class with the appearance of a cowboy.
Another customizable option for the player is the ability to adjust how often random encounters happen, if you want to receive exp, job points or money off random encounters and being able to switch the difficulty from casual to hard at will. This opens up a lot of opportunities for self-imposed challenge runs or just an experience that doesn’t push the player too hard so they can experience the story at their own pace. The ability to affect the games pacing at your own free will is much welcomed in an RPG since it’s welcoming to new players and can still bring challenge and enjoyment to RPG veterans.
The main quest and side quests aren’t the only things the game has to offer as there are two side modes that can be played at your leisure. There is a street pass feature that has you re-build Magnolia’s home on the moon and the Chomp factory. The moon re-construction allows you to bring in other players to upgrade areas of your moon base and get items to help you in your main quest. This also allows you to fight super powerful enemies that try to attack. They won’t impede your progress in re-construction as they can be sent to away. Defeating them will drop rare items and give a lot of exp and money. Though it may not be worth it because chomp factory is hands down the best way to grind money. Chomp factory is where the cast makes toys for children and earn chomp points after every set sold. There are rare chomps they can make that give more chomp points. Certain tools can increase the percentage that rare chomps get made or decrease the time between each toy made. Snack time allows you to improve every aspect of production and when fully upgraded it’ll net you hundreds of thousands of chomp points. It starts off very slow with a lot of waiting, but is worth it in the end because when you reach chomp village after getting an airship, you can exchange your chomp points for money. Which makes it the best way to grind for cash.
The game provides an incredibly satisfying experience from a gameplay stand point. The mechanics are simple to grasp with a lot of depth and strategy. Its risky battle system emphasizes the reward greatly making me not want to skip any encounter I came across. It’s completely customizable gameplay options will appeal to any type of gamer and are most appreciated when wanting to have a consistent pacing. If you are looking for a challenge then these options also appeal to you.
In conclusion Bravely Second: End Layer is an excellent RPG with a great story, great presentation and completely customizable gameplay experience. Though it is highly recommended to not jump into this game first and to play its predecessor Bravely Default: Where the Fairy Flies to fully enjoy the experience. Playing the demo for this game is also necessary due to it being a pre-cursor to the main plot. This game understands what players want and need in their RPG and it pulls everything off so well.
+Easy to Grasp Battle System
+Good use of 3D
+Great Sound Design
-Some Uninspired Enemy Designs