Oh, my. Wow. @_@ I’m so happy right now! Such a great game! Such a weird game! I have a lot of feelings right now …
Everyone at level 80, ca. 102:20 hours played. And … I did it. I finished Bravely Second! There are still things I did not do, jobs I did not use or even acquire etc., but I will leave this for later when I replay the game. I am definitely going to replay this, but for now I’m happy to just sit back and reflect on the experience. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Bravely Second truly managed to surpass its predecessor. The way that the game improved on the first game’s ideas and fixed many of its problems makes me very excited for anything that Silicon Studio will have to offer in the future. Bravely Third, hopefully. But they are also working on a project with Nobuhiro Sakaguchi’s Mistalker, which is thrilling to think about. Whatever will come next, I hope it’s as entertaining, warm-hearted, nostalgic, complex and playful as Bravely Second.
What truly impressed me about this game is that it is a true, proper sequel. It refers back to the first game very often, and manages to round Bravely Default off retroactively. It also picks up ideas from Bravely Default that were good, but didn’t work well in execution. The infamous looping was a fascinating idea, I thought. What I disliked the most about it was that Bravely Default required you to go along with the looping. You could break the circle early, but this would just get you the bad ending – although it’s the better course of action. What message does it send that you must continue doing something even when you know it’s wrong??
In Bravely Second, you could become stuck in an endless loop as well. But here, you are meant to break the circle. That’s the only way to advance the story.
It’s not only a satisfying idea gameplay-wise, but also fits very well with the game’s themes and worldbuilding. Yew’s journey has him learn about the dark past of his own ancestors and of the organization (and religion) that he is following. He decides to change course, to reform instead of blindly follow along predetermined paths. Bravely Default already taught us that just because a fairy tells you to awaken the four crystals, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. BD just failed to incorporate this idea properly into the plot.
And Bravely Second fixes this. You have to do something entirely unusual in order to succeed. Something that goes against all JRPG conventions: start a new game (via New Game +) before you even finish the game.
Of course, this breaks the fourth wall. Bravely Second loves breaking the fourth wall – and it’s funny that those were the moments in the game that truly startled me. The end boss? EASY. But when he chastised me (ME!) for putting the party members through so much danger and suffering … Well, that was very unfair of him. I’ve been extremely mindful of every character’s happiness. For example, I approached the sidequests with the utmost care. I do sometimes make choices in JRPGs just to enhance the drama (for example, I always make sure that I get found guilty in the trial in Chrono Trigger), but in Bravely Second, I tried to be nice and harmonious. Mostly because I’m traumatized by the things Bravely Default made me do.
When the end boss (seemingly) forced me to delete my savefiles … I freaked out! XD It was late at night and I wasn’t ready for the end boss the break the fourth wall and start talking to me. And threaten the thing most precious to me: my savefile. My progress! My MEMORIES!!!! ;O
But I am getting ahead of myself.
Well, I had been wondering where the heck Caldisla had gone! It was a very nice move to make Caldisla the final city of Bravely Second. It was the first city in Bravely Default, and the sense of homecoming and nostalgia was surprisingly strong. I wish there would have been a way to visit Norende, though. That ought to happen in the third game in some way.
Aw, Edea truly gets her father’s job in this sidequest! I just wish there would have been an actual choice involved. You are meant to pick between a sword and shield, to symbolize the sort of power you’d wield as a ruler. A nice conundrum. Sadly, the sidequest only continues if you don’t have either of the items equipped. When Braev asks Edea why she is choosing not to use either the sword or the shield, the actual answer is: because that’s the only way to continue! XD So that was a bit awkward.
Chapter 6 is when you are finally able to visit the Vampire Castle, or as I call it: Exposition Castle, once inhabited by Lord Exposition – I mean De Rosso. I miss De Rosso. But I did not expect to see him again, since he’s … dead … and his sacrifice has to mean something. He can’t come back. :< Right? Still, Yoko lives in Exposition Castle now, and reveals more of Yew’s complicated and rather sinister family history. Also, Ringabel. RINGABEL! My Babybel! I knew that was him pretending to be Alternis (well, this world’s Alternis). I smiled like an idiot throughout those scenes, and boy, I missed him. The fight against Yoko, interrupted repeatedly by Ringabel’s support attacks – hilarious. I’m definitely curious about Ringabel’s circumstances and current job. This seems something that a third game would explore. I’m all for it. I’ve missed you, Ringabel.
And I caved and re-did the Knight/Ninja sidequest to get the Knight job. Actually, the outcome is still satisfying, so that was OK. But then I went back to the Swordmaster/Summoner sidequest and sided against Kamiizumi this time, even though I still think that dude should not quit his day job. Oh well! I was weak, and somehow I cracked up at Edea’s “Oh, he’ll get over it”, so it was worth it.
This was a really tough boss, I thought! Especially thanks to her Undermine ability. Reducing a character’s MAX HP to 1 is just plain evil! I made it mostly thanks to my Exorcist skills (Undo HP). After a character is hit with Undermine, you can just reset their HP to the previous round’s value. As far as I know, it’s the only way to fix the damage done by Undermine. I did not always manage to do it in time and ended up with every character at 1 HP at the end of the battle. I made it, but it was a close call.
The final dungeon of Bravely Default was rather uninspired. The final dungon of Bravely Second, though, is large and has a design that’s actually meaningful. I love it when Bravely Second shows that it understood its predecessor’s flaws – and has fixed them!
… so I totally screwed this battle up the first couple of times. It was that attack that deals 99999 of damage that made me despair. It took a while for me to realize that all I had to do was use the Reraise spell of the Time Mage. That’s a job I’d been neglecting, so, ahem. I had to level up a little (well, a lot) for Yew to master the job, and then, boom. The fight was suddenly really easy.
I love – love – that the final battle is triggered like a random encounter as you try to leave. I’ve always thought that JRPGs could experiment more with how their final battles start and how they proceed!
Like I wrote at the beginning of this post, the breaking of the fourth wall was one of the coolest things that the game did, and it actually scared me for a moment. Yeah, don’t even JOKE about me losing my savefiles, OK? XD
Awwwww, man. Yeah, so Tiz actually died at the start of Bravely Default. He stayed alive though the first game because he was being possessed by Anne (which is such a cool twist, you know), “died” when she left his body, was revived when Altair’s soul was put into him, and … died again when Altair left.
And just when I realize that noooooooo I don’t want Tiz to die!!! D: Enter … the Adventurer. I used to crack jokes about how weird it was that no matter where I went, even in the most remote, interdimensional dungeons, the Adventurer would be waiting at the end, functioning as a savepoint. My favourite joke was that the Adventurer would turn out to be the TRUE VILLAIN all along, and that’ll teach you to just think of him as a mere gameplay device, muahaha.
Well, turns out, the Adventurer is actually a woman. Her name is Deneb and she can somehow time-travel, which she does to help save Tiz’s life. Woohoo, Deneb!! I hope your mysteries will be revealed in a third game.
And thus … it ends. A thoroughly happy ending, a teaser for a third game … And I fight the urge to replay the game at once. It’s funny, when I beat Bravely Default, the last thing I wanted was replay the game at once. But for me, Bravely Second has pretty much eclipsed Default. I spent over 100 hours with it, and I’ll return to it. :)
But for now, I am become Filmia the frog prince, and will fool around with Legend of Legacy for a while. ^_^