Traditional turn-based JRPGs old school Final Fantasy games have really dipped out of style in the past decade or so, only to be replaced with the western style of RPG like The Witcher or Skyrim. Even the Final Fantasy franchise has deviated away from its squad-based, methodical turn-based system in its newer titles. While the genre might not be for everyone, it is great to see Square Enix still developing Traditional JRPGs like Bravely Second: End Layer. A game that is more akin to something from 20 years ago than today, Bravely Second relies heavily on nostalgia to entertain its audience. Unfortunately, that only gets you so far.
Whenever I pick up a new RPG, whether it is a JRPG, ARPG or heck even a Legend of Zelda game, I am expect the first thing to hit me is a sense of wonder, a feeling that I am about to embark on an epic and most importantly, something new and unique to draw me in. Unfortunately, I got none of that from Bravely Second. Someone is kidnapped, and you have to rally some buddies together in order to save them. It is tired, cliche and didn’t provide the exciting hook that I needed to get into the game. The cliche, overdone story doesn’t seem to get any more interesting as you go on, and as I played I kept waiting for the twister the hook to come, but it never did.
I basically started my run in Bravely Second completely blind. I know basically nothing about the series, had never played the first game and wasn’t really sure what to expect. As I played through, I found some character interactions that some characters had met before, but without the foundation of the first game I was a little bit lost on some of the nuances.
I can’t say for certain why the turn-based genre has all but vanished from mainstream gaming these days, maybe it has to do with players on mass wanting more immediate responses out of their games? Whatever the reason it is sad to see such classic gameplay mechanics be relegated to indie games or Pokemon titles. Bravely Second (and I assume its predecessor) bring back the old school turn based RPG in a big way and shows that these games are certainly not forgotten.
As you progress through the game, you will pick out your party members and assign them jobs (basically skill classes) for them to utilise in combat. There’s a fair variety of these jobs and it was fun to pick and choose between different classes but it, along with the turn based structure of the combat made me feeling as I progressed that the whole game had this air of micromanaging to it that left me feel like I spent more time planning than actually playing.
To me, one of the most frustrating parts of the JRPG experience is always the grinding that starts at about the midway point in the game and lasts until the end credits roll (if not beyond). Having to run around and face horde after horde of enemy becomes a tiring exercise that to me can
always succeed in turning what was shaping up to be an epic adventure and turning it into a slow drag. Bravely Second manages a unique solution to this problem with its “Consecutive Chance” feature. When you beat a wave of enemies in one turn, you are given the option to face a second. If you can beat THEM in a single turn then you can opt for a third and so on. Each wave you get nets you an increased multiplier to your experience but also brings with it the risk of NOT defeating your opponents in one turn and thus losing your multiplier. It provides a unique way to level your characters through the game while also adding a real risk vs reward scenario that is often missing from these types of encounters.
Visuals & Audio
For all its shortcomings as a video game, I cannot at all refute how beautiful this game looks. The anime style used for the game’s cut scenes is incredibly detailed and well executed. Everything looks crisp, clean and without any muddiness or blue that you would expect from a game running on the 3DS.
While the game employs a different art style in-game than it does for its cut scenes, the character models here none the less looks amazing. The short, cute almost childlike character models all look awesome and have a surprising amount of detail, including their unique expressive faces.The art style in-game to me was pretty reminiscent of the Final Fantasy Tactics games and could be seen as a bit of a throwback to those titles as a further bit of nostalgia for those who grew up with the genre.
Unfortunately, as great as the game looks, I had some issues with how it sounds. The voice acting was incredibly flat, irritating and at moments downright grating. I ended up turning the sound off on my console in points because I was just absolutely over the sounds of the game.
Like I said in the introduction, JRPGs have fallen out of favour with modern gaming crowds, and Bravely Second seems to epitomise exactly why this is. Don’t get me wrong, this game and the genre in general will definitely find its fans out there, and if you are one of those people who are huge JRPG fans then This should probably be on your radar as you’ll be able to overlook its flaws. However, if you are more of a casual fan or one that prefers a faster-pace of game, then probably give this one a miss. All the nostalgia and pretty visuals in the world cannot help the fact that the plot is boring and tired, or the fact that the gameplay is slow, clunky and filled with more micromanaging than a soccer coach on game day.
Capsule Computers review guidelines can be found here.