Bravely Second Review: Good Gravy!

Bravely Second Trailer
Bravely Second Trailer /

In Bravely Default, a stellar battle system and promising plot were blunted for much of its audience with a tedious second half and repetitive sidequests. Bravely Second offers the series another chance while keeping the good and outing the bad.

Developer: Silicon Studio

Publisher: Square Enix

Platform: Nintendo 3DS

Release Dates: April 23, 2015 (JP); February 26, 2016 (EU); February 27, 2016 (AUS); April 15, 2016 (NA)

Warning: Due to the nature of the series, this review may contain spoilers regarding the ending of Bravely Default. Any Bravely Second plot points or spoilers not mentioned in its trailers or promotional material will be avoided completely. Proceed at your own risk!

While the Final Fantasy series chugs ever onward toward its fifteenth main installment, its distant cousin, the Bravely series, is trying its hand at making a sequel out of success. Bravely Default rewrote the Final Fantasy formula, turning the story of the Warriors of Light around a familiar battle system with just the right amount of innovation, and tossing in a heaping dose of meta-ness to surprise those who stayed until the very end. Despite its enormous success in east and west, Bravely Default was not without its major flaws; namely, the agonizingly repetitive second half, complete with hokey sidequests. Bravely Second is as direct a sequel as you can get: same battle system, same world, plenty of familiar faces, and a plot that directly follows up to the end of the first game. The challenge, then, is for Bravely Second to appropriately improve on its predecessor while avoiding the tempting tendency to overcorrect.

Bravely Second Yew
Bravely Second Yew /

A Falcon in the Dive

Bravely Second takes place some time after the events of Bravely Default, in a time of fragile peace between the Crystal Orthodoxy and the Duchy of Eternia. You play as Yew Geneolgia: aristocrat, scholar, and leader of the newly-crowned Pope Agnes’s Crystalguard. When Agnes is kidnapped by a new villain determined to shatter the quiet brought about by the heroes of the first game, Yew sets off on an adventure to rescue Agnes and restore order to the world of Luxendarc.

Luxendarc felt like an old friend back from a long trip, with lots of new secrets and stories to tell.

Without going into too many details, Bravely Second’s plot should not disappoint anyone who enjoyed Bravely Default. The four main characters spend most of their time being surprisingly happy, holding goofy conversations about food (especially gravy), bad “Ba’al Buster” puns, and weird traditions on the moon. But don’t get too comfortable! Their regular silliness was a welcome balance to the darker interactions with the asterisk holders and the growing threats against the world of Luxendarc. This game is heavily story-driven, so even if Yew and Magnolia’s fluffy cluelessness doesn’t interest you, the world unfolding around them certainly will.

Bravely Second screenshot
Credit: Nintendo /

Unfortunately, if you didn’t play Bravely Default, don’t expect to understand everything going on in Bravely Second easily. Even with the lengthy prologue, plenty never gets recapped or is mentioned too late to make sense. Newcomers to the series are better off starting with the first game to avoid frequent confusion.

Your trip across Luxendarc will present a mix of familiar and new locations, in both town and dungeon varieties. Generally speaking, most story-based activity will take place in new areas while you’ll briefly visit towns and dungeons from Bravely Default as part of sidequests. While it may be easy to complain about recycled content and low design effort, the result is actually a seamless, full world. Instead of feeling tired and reused, Luxendarc felt like an old friend back from a long trip, with lots of new secrets and stories to tell.

That said, little has been done since Bravely Default about the uninspired dungeon crawling. A few of the new dungeons included basic switch puzzles and easily avoidable traps, but apart from one dungeon with differently-themed battle rooms, most of your dungeon time will be spent running back and forth down the wrong paths, looking for the right one. While, at times, the game had me sighing in exasperation at the prospect of another generic, winding cave adventure, this was almost always assuaged by the real action and puzzle aspect of Bravely Second: its battle system.

Bravely Second screenshot
Credit: Nintendo /

Get a Job

Bravely Default’s battle system wasn’t broken, so the obvious answer is not to fix it, right? Silicon Studio took that to heart, because Bravely Second’s systems look almost identical to its predecessors. Several quality of life adjustments have been made to make menu use even quicker and more convenient than before as you power through up to four layers of menus using the game’s Brave and Default system to take several turns at a time, or save up extra ones, so you’re not penalized later. Couple that with convenient auto-battle buttons, speed up/slow down options for combat, and adjustable encounter rate and difficulty, and you get simultaneously the most complex, yet easy-to-navigate RPG menu system I’ve ever used.

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But along with the basic Brave and Default set-up, a total of 30 interchangeable jobs are available to be swapped out and leveled up within your party of four whenever you like. Eighteen jobs return, twelve new ones are introduced, and you’re partially in control of which jobs you receive and in what order based on decisions made in certain sidequests. Each job is completely unique, with its own set of abilities, stats, recommended equipment, and passive support boosts that can be used once obtained even when that job isn’t active. This makes for hundreds of possible combinations to take into battle with you!

The game highly recommends you try multiple jobs throughout, as opposed to just leveling up a few. The penalties for starting a new job at any point in the game are relatively low, leveling is easy, and trust me when I say you’ll need a wealth of jobs at your disposal later on. The dungeons may not have many puzzles, but arguably the puzzle in each one is finding out how best to handle the enemies in each new area. Shooting everything down with barrages of flaming arrows might work great in one place, but head to the castle down the road and you’ll be eaten alive in your first encounter. Without constant experimentation and a solid knowledge of what each job entails, you may find yourself floundering in dungeons you easily out-level. Pay close attention during those asterisk fights!

Bravely Second Ba'al Fight
Credit: Nintendo /

Busting Those Ba’als

Bravely Second brings back the beautiful, watercolor-style towns that pop to life as a storybook when you switch on the 3D, including several new ones. Even the new dungeons are much more visually interesting than the older ones. I’m sorry to say the same improvements aren’t true for the soundtrack. Bravely Second features an odd mix of old tunes from the first game popping in here and there amongst new ones, and the difference between the two is immediately obvious. You won’t be humming any new catchy melodies from Bravely Second, though you will likely remember the stellar voice cast, who do an excellent job at bringing every major scene in this game to life.

Luxendarc offers plenty to do, even if you’re momentarily distracted from the main questline. The StreetPass functions are back and improved from their original iteration. You’re rebuilding Magnolia’s home on the moon, this time, using villagers obtained through updating your data online and connecting with friends who also play the game, or strangers your StreetPass.

Between rebuilding Fort-Lune, a solid JRPG’s-worth of story and all its sidequests, and the weird plushie-making mini-game “Chompcraft,” don’t plan on putting this game down soon.

This same function once again provides you with Ba’als to fight, though they aren’t quite as daunting this time. You can use ships obtained from your friends to gun down the Ba’als before you battle them and lower their level appropriately, giving you an endless stream of optional bosses to fight at a degree of difficulty you can easily set yourself. For this reason, alone, it’s worth it to keep your 3DS and the game running while closed–you’ll also obtain SP by doing this, allowing you to freeze time with Bravely Second more often!

Between rebuilding Fort-Lune, a solid JRPG’s-worth of story and all its sidequests, and the weird plushie-making mini-game “Chompcraft,” don’t plan on putting this game down soon. The main story takes between 50 and 60 hours to complete (including the not-so-optional sidequests), plus there are tons of hidden items, hidden areas, and secrets to track down by poking in all the nooks and crannies both in dungeons and out in the world. Finally, once the credits roll, three bonus dungeons unlock, complete with new (and ridiculously hard) bosses to face down.

Bravely Second is very nearly the perfect sequel. It expands on the numerous goods from Bravely Default while still telling a brilliant story all its own. Keeping it from perfection are its inaccessibility to series newcomers and occasionally over-the-top dialogue, but that’s all gravy when you look at the battle systems and complex storytelling. Bravely Second easily stands by its predecessor’s side as one of the best RPGs for the Nintendo 3DS.. Silicon Studio. . Bravely Second. 8

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.