If you can sum up Bravely Default: End Layer in two words, it would be “bravely default”.
To put it another way, they don’t make JRPG’s the way they used to. Except when they do. In which case, Square’s Bravely Default is the loving result of what old world thinking, enhanced with the modern gamers tastes in mind. And why not throw in a couple of interesting innovations?
The story is about as generic as they come. Agnes, one of the main characters from the original Bravely Default is kidnapped by villain Kaiser Oblivion. You play as Yew (get it?) Geneolgia who must assemble a team to save the girl and bring order back to the world. Yes, it’s not a ground breaking narrative, but that is entirely the point. To complain is to be lost in the sea of references that even the title affords.
Bravely Second: End Layer
It does help to play its predecessor to completion to ensure you know what’s going on with all the characters. You and probably piece it all together, though. There are some twists along the way in both games, none of which are hard to see coming.
Being a JRPG, combat is the main draw of the game. It’s turned based as you’d expect but there’s a flurry of interesting innovations on offer. Players are able to select ‘Default’ on their turn, basically making the character defend and lose a chance to attack that round. Doing so also adds points to be spend in Brave mode, allowing a character to attack multiples times in one turn. Default for four turns, unleash four moves at once. It’s a fun proposition that speeds up some of the harder battles.
Players can also set up automatic move sets. This allows battles to come and go by in seconds as every move that is to be unleashed is already decided before the battle commences. This makes grinding to level up characters almost enjoyable, enhanced too by the speed up option that can make battle scene whiz by a four times normal speed.
Online features allow players to share character data over the internet. At any time in a battle, you can summon one of these characters to the battlefield to fight alongside your team. This comes in handy if you haven’t been putting in the leg work of levelling your team. You’ll be forgiven if you haven’t, either. Monsters (better known as experience fodder) are frustratingly hard to come by, their experience rewards can be small. So while the game takes great pride in being easy to play (thanks in part to a “Casual” mode), it also ensures you stick around and put in some elbow grease.
Bravely Second: End Layer
The game oozes presentation excellence. From the hand drawn locations rendered divinely in 3D to the fantastic music score that delights the ears (especially with headphones), Bravely Second is worth its weight in gold. Familiar locations from the original keep the new series grounded in the players mind while new levels look gorgeous. Most of the in-game text is voiced, too. This is probably the only drawback in presentation as some of the actors’ execution can be quite cheesy, unintentionally so. But the sheer amount of thought put into things like the ability to control most of the game with your left hand (using the right D-Pad button as your “A” button, for example) is fantastic.
Bravely Second has a very complex and sprawling job system. Jobs determine how your character dresses and the moves they can use in battle, but also the kinds of weapons and items that can be made and used throughout the game. Everything from Dark Mage to Patisserie are included, each with their own subtle-to-incredible differences. A player wanting to squeeze as much value out of this title as possible can become lost in the job system, there’s so much content on offer.
Bravely Second: End Layer is the role playing game for role playing fans. It’s not about what new features it can bring to the table, it’s about how the tried and true features of these types of games can be perfected for the discerning gamer. It manages to take the best features of all JRPGs, mix them with the old school way of thinking and present them marvelously to players in a beautiful package worthy of anyones collection.

Editor's Rating

Presentation 9.5
Gameplay 8.0
Engagement 7.5
Overall Impression 7.6
Bravely Second: End Layer is, as the name suggests, a brave, default JRPG that is heaped in charm and gamer-centric features sure to delight genre fans.
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Ty Muddle

Ty Muddle

I cut my gaming teeth on a Commodore 64 my siblings and I found stashed under my parents bed. It was the early 90's and the strange computerised images were a novelty for a young kid living in a rural Australian town. It would be some years before I was introduced to a simple word processor powered by a Apple II my grandfather found at the dump but it didn't take much to spark a love of writing and video gaming that would continue through my life. My first "modern" console was, like most people in Australia at the time, a Sega Master System II. In those days you'd hire games from the local video store. I always loved flipping to the back of the game manual to see the cheat codes other players would scribble in the "Notes" section.

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