Bravely Second (3DS, 2016)

Bravely Second is the follow-up to Bravely Default. It’s not only a sequel, but one of the world’s most elaborate copy/paste jobs ever. Bravely Second uses the exact same map, the same characters, the same dungeons, much of the same music, the exact same battle system, and the same art assets. It is less a sequel and more an expansion pack. That or it is the greatest fan remix of any game ever.

For the most part, I did not mind. There are new characters and new jobs, both of which keep the experience fresh. The combat was already perfect, so no reason to change it at all. The added dungeons and new locales are fun. The plot is a ham dinner with all the trimmings, but that only adds to the game’s humor and melodrama.

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Let’s talk about how funny Bravely Second is for a moment. Early on in the game, when it introduces the ability to turn off random battles, it makes it out to be a hidden power of one of the party’s members, Tiz. In a humorous segment, he uses the repeated phrase “you don’t see anyone” to convince a particularly stupid enemy that the party was not standing in front of them thus avoiding a battle. Afterward, a tutorial message pops up talking about how to activate the feature, and a party member winks directly at you because she knows you are in on the joke.

Bravely Second, like its predecessor only more so, revels in the fact that it is a video game. It winks and nods at the player like they are wrestling smarks who have followed the JRPG genre for a huge chunk of their lives. It introduces characters named Rhe Vealing and Swetti Tracksuit without batting an eye. It features a pastry chef that utilizes poisoned desserts to defeat its enemies. It then gives you the ability to make your own pastry chef.

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The series straddles the line between over-the-top meta humor and being a serious JRPG straight out of the genre’s golden age. And it rarely falters.

Even when it is a serious JRPG, Bravely Second is modern, fun, accessible, and addictive. I especially loved grinding, which is a rare feat. Wandering around, your party of four heroes get attacked by random enemies, but if you beat the enemy without them taking a turn then you can immediately trigger a new battle. The more successive battles you manage, the better the bonus modifier for the experience, job points, and money you earn.

Since you can control the encounter rate, you are never forced to grind. You can do it on your own schedule, which makes exploring larger dungeons less of a hassle. Even better, there’s plenty of things to grind for. Each job can be leveled to 10 and doing so unlocks a variety of abilities and passives. The passives are especially cool because they can be used whether your character is still using that job or not. The end result is a min/maxer’s dream and it is even more refined than in Bravely Default.

Plot-wise, the first game’s Tiz and Edea join newcomes Yew and Magnolia. Yew is a member of the Crystalguard and belongs to a powerful family that featured prominently in the Crystal Orthodoxy. Magnolia is a Ba’al Buster from the Moon. As you can likely imagine, there are lots of jokes about busting Ba’als and it never got old (your mileage may vary).

In the opening of the game, Agnes, another original party member who has since risen to the rank of Pope, is kidnapped by a masked villain calling himself Kaiser Oblivion. He whisks her away in a giant flying diamond and Yew is forced to give chase. Adventures ensue and we’re forced to save the multiverse by jumping back and forth in time and space or across dimensions. All of which has become par for the course in Bravely games and with only two titles in the series.

Some of you will be turned off by Bravely Second. As I said before, it uses all of the same assets from the original. Initially it felt more like a remix than a new game, but in time the changes became clearer. I think part of the problem is how little precedent there is for JRPGs that use the exact same world/features/characters. The Final Fantasy series typically starts over from scratch with each entry. Dragon Quest comes closest, but even there the gameplay and features changed pretty significantly from one game to the next.

If you liked Bravely Default, then you owe it to yourself to play Bravely Second. No, it isn’t the world’s greatest sequel, but it proves that doing something twice doesn’t automatically make it half as good. It also doesn’t make it twice as good. Bravely Second is a better Bravely Default, but it is still a whole lot more of the same thing. If the first game wasn’t for you, then avoid this one.

The first one was for me and I loved Bravely Second for giving me more of that Bravely goodness.

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7 thoughts on “Bravely Second (3DS, 2016)”

  1. Interesting…I didn’t realize the two titles were in fact this close. I noticed the soundtrack not doing much new and thought it was disappointing but now that makes a lot more sense. And ENC-None was my favorite GF ability in FF8 already haha, Diablos <3

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    1. Yeah, there is a ton of overlap. It felt more like a movie sequel or a second season to a television show than a video game sequel. The music could have been better though. Not many new tracks that I loved.

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      1. I think the music was the biggest disappointment to me. It was very clear that the new tracks in Bravely Second were not composed by Revo, and didn’t have the same oomph to them as Bravely Default’s soundtrack had. It’s almost jarring hearing a Bravely Default track every once in a while (despite being the more enjoyable of the two games music-wise).

        However, I’m only halfway through Chapter 2, so it’s still early game for me.

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  2. One option you didn’t cover there was what if you never played Bravely Default. Would you recommend starting with Bravely Second? If it’s “a better Bravely Default” then logically a new player might as well just start there.

    Of course, since I don’t own a 3DS it’s a bit of a moot point…

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