Bravely Default was a game that sold so well, it even shocked Square Enix. It was a game that proved that there is still a huge market for classic JRPGs, a genre that many seem to think has lost its relevancy over the years. Its sequel, Bravely Second, has a tough act to follow, but it’s here now, carrying that JRPG torch with pride.
Bravely Second takes place sometime after the first game, when peace has finally returned to the land. Agnes, now pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy, stands as the beacon of hope to the people tired of war and conflict. Unfortunately dark forces lurk in the shadows and a man calling himself Kaiser kidnaps her. As the sworn protector of Agnes, the protagonist, Yew, sets out on a journey, with some new and familiar faces to rescue Agnes and put a stop to the Kaiser’s plans.
The story itself is actually good, with some really neat twists, but the writing really lets it down. Bravely Second feels like a comedy trying to be serious. Throughout the game you’re presented with some pretty heavy themes but when characters start spouting catch phrases like “for the gravy!” or “Ba’al busters” during pivotal moments, I’m left wondering what exactly was the intention of the writer. At one point my party was carrying a wounded soldier back to town, but instead of tending to his wounds first, as soon as they arrived they decided to have a long discussion about pastries. These things were funny at first, but as the story progressed, it ended up watering down some of the better, more interesting revelations. At the very least though, I thought the characters were really likeable and relatable.
Aside from the bad script, it also feels like I was playing Bravely Default 1.5 at times. You visit a lot of the same towns and dungeons, side quests involve fighting the same bosses from the first game and even some of the story elements feel way too familiar. The town re-building mechanic makes a return too, albeit in a different location. The battle system itself remains largely unchanged as well and while it may seem like a negative statement to make, the job and battle system is just so much fun that the déjà vu hardly detracted from the overall gameplay experience.