Fans of Bravely Default who fell in love with its incredibly immersive battle and job systems are now invited to see more of what the upcoming sequel will deliver. Thankfully, this demo makes the future look very promising for the series.
Back in 2014, I didn't know what to expect when I first picked up Bravely Default. All I knew was that it was a new JRPG for 3DS, of which there are dozens. The game quickly drew me in and I became absorbed with finding the next set of skills to master. With a collection of 24 jobs with many abilities to use and combine with other job abilities, I was hooked. I spent over 120 hours on the first game and couldn't wait to let the hours tick away while diving into the demo for the sequel.
Visually, Bravely Second is very similar to the first game yet the hand-painted scenery seems to bring another layer of detail above Bravely Default. When first entering the main city in the demo (Al-Khampis), the camera pulled back to show off the complex design of the city complete with a large windmill and old dormitory. As you move, the camera zooms back in to focus on your character as they walk around the city, thus allowing you to enjoy the artwork more closely. This is the same trick that was used in the first game, but here the level design is so intricate that zooming in is much more pleasing to the eye.
You play as three guards that have been asked by Agnès (a key party member in the first game) to travel to the city and find a guide. At the start, the team only has the freelancer job assigned but that quickly changes as you play. They meet up with someone whom they assume to be the guide that Agnès was talking about, but her glowing red eyes may make you question her intentions. Through the demo, you're taken to the desert to the west of the city, into two caves, a forest and finally the temple of wind. It does a great job of using a mix of 2D layers and 3D scenery to enhance the 3D effect. At each location, you unlock an additional job to master including a few new ones (an astrologian who specializes in support spells, a hawkeye that allows you to equip and power-up a gun to shoot at multiple enemies, and a wizard who can alter the effect of his spells at a cost). I enjoyed equipping the hawkeye job most, notably because of its ability to customize bullets with elements. By the way, the full game introduces a total of six brand new jobs.
One feature that I found quite intriguing was the option to alter the encounter rate from -100% to +100% which means no more running around trying to encounter invisible enemies while you're grinding. Turning up the rate to +100% will lessen your grind time by spawning enemies very frequently. Alternatively, if you just want to explore an area and really aren't in the mood for busting heads, you can knock it down to -100% and walk around freely. Other than by using special items, I don't see this option in many JRPGs. I hope that this configurable setting takes off and starts getting introduced into other major franchises such as Tales or Dragon Quest.
If you want to get some help while grinding, you now have the option to keep fighting hordes of enemies when you complete a battle. Whenever you finish a battle in one turn, you're prompted with a message that asks if you want to give up or keep going. You can choose to keep going as long as you can keep up the chain of defeating your enemies in one turn. As you do so, you're awarded with an experience points multiplier. Out of all the battles that I fought, I managed to get the multiplier up to 2.4 times the experience that I would have got if I had just finished at the first battle. This makes quite the difference when you're in an area with enemies that you want to grind and it turns the monotony into fun whenever you find yourself somewhere that you've visited many times.
Bravely Second doesn't stray far from its predecessor, and that's a good thing. However, the minor improvements will change how I play and I can't wait to find all of the new jobs and master them. Although it's already available in Europe and Australia, I look forward to enjoying Bravely Second when it finally releases here in North America on April 15. Who knows, maybe I'll sink in another 120 hours!