Bravely Second is a worthwhile successor that expands on the series's unique mechanics while only floundering with late game pacing. Many of the streamlining is still present while increasing the ease of use even further. The excellent mixture of fun and creative jobs follows this same path. Despite a lackluster story and a long winded ending, the same great gameplay is found in this sequel.
Bravely Default was exciting in how it streamlined the classic RPG gameplay. Being able to set different commands in order to auto-battle your way through the monotony of level grinding was fantastic. This mechanic returns but with additional features to further improve it. Enemies will sometimes attack you back to back, bringing forth a second wave for you to beat. Doing so will earn you an increased amount of the standard reward. If you are able to finish a fight inside of one turn you can gamble and, voluntarily, fight an additional wave. This can be repeated as many times as you like, each time raising the score multiplier. This makes level grinding not only easier, but makes weaker areas a worthwhile place to train in.
Easily the most unique aspect to this series is how the individual job classes work with one another. Learning skills from one job and using them in combination with another makes grinding rewarding and allows for a great deal of exploration into your characters. Bravely Second continues this by introducing new and - very - different classes. For example, the Catmancer lets you attack with cats; while the Charioteer lets you equip weapons to different parts of your body in order to increase your attack power. Feeling out how you want to mold your characters alone is a great deal of fun to this series and Bravely Second only increases that aspect.
These characters are really what keeps the story floating despite a lot of cliche. Each one comes with a troubled past that you will get to explore in full. Many of the story threads from the first game will return which helps make the series feel cohesive. While brand new characters from new regions keep it fresh. There are many opportunities to halt the story progression and just listen to your team converse. The (mostly) voiced dialogue is a nice addition to this. Bravely Default had this component as well but there are more chances and ways of watching your team interact this time. Without these interesting characters the story would have been a total wash.
The characters can only do so much for how the story lacks. It’s riddled with cliche and the most obvious of twists. The entire time you’re just trying to take down an evil emperor who stole, what is basically, the princess. What doesn’t help is the game’s terrible pacing. Bravely Default was known for an extremely tedious second half and, while Second isn’t no where near as bad, this one still isn’t ideal. On numerous occasions the game will lead up to what you believe to be an ending before revealing that there’s another four hours to work through. It takes the wind out of your sails and makes the game feel too long. The story doesn’t help motivate this decision as each “additional ending” segment doesn’t feel truly necessary. On the flip side (I can’t say much about this without spoiling the coolest moments of this game) the way Bravely Second plays with its (and standard video game in general) mechanics in the back half is really cool. In the end though, Bravely Second’s back third feels more like a slow crawl than a triumphant completion.
Bravely Second matches a lot of the highs and lows of the first game. Fluid and modernized gameplay with fun and unique additions. An exciting midway twist that plays with conventional mechanics. The characters help drive you through the game despite a middling story. Bravely Second is a fun and enjoyable time, just be careful of a lackluster conclusion.