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Bravely Second: End Layer review
by zidane

Bravely Second is a direct sequel to the original Bravely Default, however since at the start the game quickly recaps the prior's story, it isn't strictly necessary to play the first game. The gameplay at large is mostly unchanged, other than some welcome quality of life improvements such as being able to chain battles together for more EXP, areas displaying a recommended level for the party, etc. and the addition of a few new jobs. Second is less grindy than its predecessor while maintaining the fun of the battle system, even if it is treading a lot of the same ground. If you only care about gameplay and the story of the game is superfluous to you, just play Bravely Second. However, as someone who thoroughly enjoyed Bravely Default's story and characters, and was excited to see where the plot would go next,  Bravely Second is quite a letdown, not doing the returning original characters justice and fumbling much of the execution on new characters.

Without going on too long about the game's story faults and writing shortcomings compared to the original (and trust me I could go on) the main issue is that Second's character arc's and dramatic moments are quite lacking compared to the first game. Default had a clear progression all 4 main characters go through over the course of the game, with each of the characters getting multiple moments centered around them, and by the end of the game they had clearly all grown and changed as people. Second on the other hand, while the main character Yew certainly has plenty of time to shine, the other new party member Magnolia barely gets any development or interesting moments despite having a character premise that you could do plenty with (she's a demon hunter from the MOON FOR CHRISTS SAKE). Instead near every moment with her is wasted by trying to hamfist a romance between her and Yew, having her fawn over him constantly. Two of the main party members are returning protagonists from Bravely Default, and the story does hardly anything with them either. They don't grow from their continued adventures, things that happened in their lives in the two years after they literally saved the world are rarely if ever brought up, and overall they just feel like flatter versions of their portrayals in the original games. There simply isn't the same charm to the party characters and their interactions, despite this game having a more lighthearted tone and more comedic relief than Default.

I could continue to go on about how the other two party members from the past game were also disappointing in their depiction, how the themes of the game are interesting at their core but could've been executed better, but I've harped on long enough. If the gameplay was something completely brand new, perhaps that would've overshadowed my personal feelings of playing the same game but with worse writing, but alas, 'twas not to be.
«Disappointment of the year»