Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bravely Second: End Layer review

Finally finished the game! And so, a bit of talk about it. I'll try to put the spoilers at the very bottom after a gap and warning, so I don't accidentally spoil anything. At the least, I'll try my best?

-So I'll start off with the best part of the game.
Well I mean, the system was pretty much complete in the previous game, and they didn't really try to fix what wasn't broken (a good thing), so it remains a fun system in this sequel. As always, the normal enemies along the way can be pulverized in one turn, but instead of giving a bonus for doing 1-turn kills and such, this sequel allows you to enter another battle if you do a 1-turn kill. However, your BP remains as they are at the end of the previous battle. Doing continuous battles earn you a multiplier of your experience/etc. rewards, but assuming one character full-Braves. His BP will be -1 in the next battle. Anyways, it is a pretty interesting system.

Well, I played on Hard, and it was perfectly beatable. Around the beginning, I got through the boss battles by balancing my attacks and healing with items.
However, a feature in this game is to (like the previous game) restore an area. However, additionally, you get weaken and fight Maous that are sent to you across the web from your friends and randoms. The thing is that once you weaken the Maous to level 1, the battle is not only a piece of cake, but you get experience and such equal to their ORIGINAL level. When I defeated my first Maou, weakened from Level 70-ish, I grew 4 levels immediately. But in order to fill in your Monster-dex, you have to fight monsters multiple times. That goes for the Maous too. But you can only hold 7 Maous at once, meaning it will save you plenty of effort if you fight them as soon as possible, which results in over-leveling.
And by doing so, I was already at Level 99 when I fought the final boss. Needless to say, it was easy... But that is kinda more the boss's fault.
However, it seems that you can set the amount of experience and such to 0 in the settings, so it isn't a problem if you try.

Another thing is that you can change the encounter rate. When you want to grind, you can set it to +100%. If your party is out of MP and cannot really fight anymore, set it to -100% and you will be able to run all the way to the next Adventurer/Save Point/Heal Point. Of course, in various extra-dungeons, the game forces you to play fair by disabling this feature.

So as I kinda said above, easy to take out the normal enemies in 1 turn, though in certain cases, not thinking will still result in a game-over.
Also, bosses are somewhat hard. Maous and Seven Sins are simply tricky, but the Asterisk Holders (especially the sub-scenario ones) generally feel hard because of their lackies. Quickly defeating the lackies make it so much easier, even if it means dropping to -3BP in the start of the battle.

Anyways, no problem with the difficulty.

It is not like Ryo did a bad job. He did a fine job. The music wasn't bad in any ways.
It's just... that Revo did a really really too good of a job. His music was brave and memorable. At times, it told a story. Heck, he even had a vocal version for the special moves of the characters as well as the Asterisk battle BGM, so yeah, there was a story.
But I can't really say this game's had the same effect. The BGM was great, but it wasn't on the same level, unfortunately. And you can't just "not compare", because Revo's music appears in places and some battles in this game.

One of the more well-know problems of the game. I can see why people complain.
Let's say the previous game was... Adventure and Heroism.
I would say this game is... Adventure and Romance.
The thing is that overall, the previous game made you feel like you were saving the world. You do feel that way in some places in this game, but in general, you are staring at the screen not... really feeling anything. Like "great, this is happening".
That said, it wasn't a complete screw-up. There were exciting moments and the various events during the last boss battle was cool. I enjoyed the interesting ways the staff came up with having the player interact with the game and the game actually show it. Interesting stuff there.

But still, a lot of romance... and a strange obsession with food. One reason "food" stands out is that in general, whenever you first meet an Adventurer save-point, you can rest for free. When you do, the characters have an interaction. And about 95% of the time, it is about eating. Yes, I know that if you are resting in a tent, that is a logical thing to do. To eat. But other than the fact that the characters slowly get better at making food, I really could not get myself to care about the descriptions and every other crap about how the food tastes or... whatever. Thankfully, you can skip the text if you really need to.

Overall, as a sequel, it felt more like a side-story than a true sequel. In ways, I guess...

Other Complaints:
Another thing is that they play the OP whenever an episode ends, except the very last. And you can skip this too, thankfully. Not sure why they wanted to do so, but...

Another problem are the anime/manga parodies. Seriously, this isn't one of "those" games. You can be silly at times, especially for characters like the Superstar Asterisk, but I'm gonna question the use of anime/manga jokes that are so well-known and overused. Jojo, Naruto, One Piece, Kaiji (or Akagi?). Anyways, stuff like you see on 2ch and NicoDouga.
I felt that the writer(s?) got one of those moments, where you just feel like you had to insert comedy in every single little moment, even if inappropriate.
There is one joke a character uses as one of his traits. But while I was kinda... shocked at first, not only is this trait matching with his Asterisk's ability, but he uses it in a way that makes it feel like it is in-place. So I was kinda okay with this later.
That said, the other ones are a bit more... urg.

To be honest, Yuu's voice actor kinda sucks. Especially when he yells. It is so hard to take his yells seriously. Every single yell made me chuckle. That is just how much his yells seem like he (the VA) was fooling around. It isn't so bad in other places, but anyways, his... yells...

But anyways, it didn't leave a bad taste.
 Generally good memories, fun game. I played around 90 hours before completing the game, though some was used for filling out the monster-dex and a bit came from when I fell asleep while the game was open. I'd personally give a 7/10 to the game and say that if your money allows, go ahead and play the game.
Oh, and the thing I liked the most in the game (that was also somewhat in the previous game) are the sketches of the monsters/people you fight. Just kinda... cool? Especially since the characters are all deformed in the game, so getting to see a more full anime-ish design is nice.

And so, from here, I am not caring about avoiding spoilers and will give my opinions on various characters and stories from here. Spoiler Alert, yeah.

Bravely Second:
The bravery to redo. The game utilizes this by forcing the player to start a New Game+. Which brings you to the start of the game again. But by activating Bravely Second and stopping time, the story continues, with a new development branching from the beginning battle.
Just like the previous game was Flying Fairy - FF = Lying Airy, this game's is End Layer + SP = Send Player. You send the characters back in time to the beginning of the game, allowing them to change the results. SP itself also has meaning in that it is used to stop time and other stuff.

I don't know, he wasn't really likeable. Not hate-able either, but he just didn't really leave me with much to think about. Heck, he was so... "I don't know", that I made him the Support character on the team. Yeah, his role in the party was to buff my party up.
While the Superstar class from the previous game boosted a stat for the entire party, the Moon Magic gives a bigger boost for one character. But by using Black Magic's "Everything Full", you can give this boost to the entire party. Not only that, but Moon Magic can give reflection to a selected element, give immunity to status ailments, give immunity to all elements, and even boost percentage chances. Very useful. Not only that, but the class's innate skill allows his buff actions to all go FIRST in the turn.
The Time Magic is there because I can boost the number of attacks the physical attacks on the party do per normal attack. Also, Time Magic has Rerise, which immediately revives a character that dies while this is cast on the character. Thanks to "Everything Full", I can cast this on every character in my party in one action.
Anyways, support. Nothing big for you.

He manages to wake up because Altair's soul enters his body. I guess despite being technically dead throughout the previous game, his body was still kept alive and in good conditio.
As the main character position went to Yuu, he plays a sub-character role throughout the game. He does it fine to, but because his soul is a major player in the main story, he ends up being more prominent than Yuu at times... or at least for me.
He is my magic attacker of the party, though his main class (Bishop) uses mainly healing magic. So both attack and healing is done by Tiz.

His abilities are:
Double Language (Bishop Innate): By using the same magic on the same target twice in a role, the magic combines into a x2.5 attack. So what would be 1.00 x 2 = 2.00, you get 1 x 2.5 = 2.5.
Magic Attack + 20%: Obvious reasons
Post Script: Allows you to do various things with magical spells, such as going first, turning into a physical attack, turning a single-targeting spell into a party-targeting one. By using Rain (hits 4 times randomly to the enemy), you can max out the damage caused in one attack. For instance, Lightning Lightning Rain. Lightning gets a x2.5 boost, gets weakened slightly and hits 4 times by Rain. Of course, Lightning Lightning Rain uses up 3 BPs, one for each update.
Everything stays the same even if you choose to spread the attack out to the party: Didn't know a good translation, but that is what it does. The thing is that the Bishop's healing skills are set to a percentage, so it has no effect on the Bishop healing skills. But the black magic can hit the entire enemy party for full damage.

The girls are both the same class, as physical attackers.
Tomohawk + Ninja. The thing is that Tomohawk probably is the strongest physical class in the game. This combination is pretty much the Ninja + Magic Swordsman combo in the previous game.

The Tomohawk can grant any element as well as Defense piercing and Default piercing. The innate skill gives a +100% accuracy to attacks.
The Ninja has a skill that boosts number of hits per normal attack by 100%.
In other words, this combination allows you to dish out a whole lot of damage just by doing
Default x 3: Ninja skill -> Normal attack -> Normal attack -> Normal attack
In late, late game, when you gain access to Time Magic's +100% to number of hits, you don't even need to use the Ninja class. On one turn, use War Head to change the normal attack to the element your enemy is weak against. Next turn, Yuu boosts Hit Number (Time Magic), Physical Attack (Moon Magic), Elemental damage (Moon Magic) while Magnolia uses Normal Attack x 4.

On top of that, by using the Swordmaster's ability, every time the girls do a normal attack, they have a 1/3 chance of doing another one. So Normal Attack x 4 can become a terrifying Normal Attack x 8.

However, being the exact same is boring, so I did change up their abilities.


One of the things I couldn't get myself to care much about is the Moon. I care about Luxendark, but the Moon? I mean, it is funny the Moon's native language is English, but I don't feel much for the Moon, even if it gets deleted from the world. The whole fighting Maous thing felt so sub-story compared to the previous game, even though that is her goal.
That said, I felt more for her than Yuu at the least. Didn't feel much for her goal, but liked her character enough. I also feel that just because giving flowers to a girl means a proposal and the first person you meet coming to Luxendark gives you one... kinda doesn't qualify for falling for that guy.

For her, I gave her
4 Swords: By using armor slots, she can equip up to 4 weapons.
Knowledge of Dual Weapons: Equipping extra weapons result in no attack power drop
So she can wield up to 4 weapons at their full power, though I gave her 1 Gun + 2 Axes, so she attacks 3 times per Normal Attack.

Idea and Sub-Scenarios:
Throughout the game, you can fight and gain the Asterisks of the past game through sub-scenarios. In these scenarios, two Asterisk users will be involved in the story and you will have to choose sides. Depending on which side you choose, the story changes. However, regardless of which you choose, there is always some kind of con. because of what you did not choose. However, on the 5th Chapter, where you restart the game, you get to choose the Asterisk you did not choose on the first round. Also, the results of your choice is not as bittersweet as the results of the first time through, regardless of who you choose even if you choose the same one for some crazy reason.

But the thing is that the one that chooses is Idea. You'd kinda think it would be the "protagonist" Yuu, but no. Her theme in the previous game about Black or White, Right or Wrong fits well for her position here, yes, but all that helps make Yuu look worthless to me.

For her abilities, I gave her
Precision: Boosts damage when every hit of a Normal Attack hits. With Hawkeye, there is no problem in doing just that.
Barrage: Does more damage per action in the turn.
The Ninja skill that removes the limit of hits you can deal in one Normal Attack
She does so much damage in one attack, she can do 9999 (Max) to Defaulting characters. Wow.

I liked his character enough. Also, it was especially interesting when the backgrounds of the Maous are explained. The Maous play quite a bit role in the game, and at the end of Chapter 4, they appear as normal enemies around the map (which scared me when I first encountered one and realized what was roaming the map at the time).

The fairy of the game. And yes, as you would expect, she betrays. Then again, she was on the enemy side already, so she betrayed an enemy for another enemy.
I did enjoy her talking shit at you while using an Oujo-sama speech pattern, but compared to Airy, she doesn't stand out much. Unlike Airy, she was always the enemy. She has no "OMG, please save me Ouroboros-sama!" thing. She doesn't go through metamorphosis through an ugly Caterpillar and Cocoon form. And she doesn't get eaten or anything. She just... dies.
I mean, her design was pretty, yes, and like I said, I enjoyed her talking, but...

Final Boss:
I did enjoy the whole part where the boss talks to the player and controls the player (supposedly) and forces them to go to the title screen and delete the game file and the whole interaction from there, but just like his fairy, he just doesn't stand compared to Ouroboros.
Ouroboros is this huge monster that destroys several worlds and heals himself and requires a character to sacrifice himself in order to level the playing field. This guy? He likes to eat Despair.

His first form has a crow's head, which is lame. He has an interesting move where he forces you to perform an action else face a devastating consequence, but design-wise and character-wise, meh.

 As for his second form, the way you enter the fight, where you think everything ended and as you leave the area, you suddenly enter the fight against him. That was cool.
But the battle is lame. You have two hands that attack you, one with magic and one with physical. You also have his head as the main part. If you don't kill his hands, then when he uses "Future Sight" (which is not the name, but you get the idea) and his hands reach 0BP, he practically kills you. His main body Dispels every turn otherwise, except that every certain number of commands you enter, he stops time and strikes your party at that moment. And you repeat until the main body dies. He rejuvenates his hands one at a time, doing a Fire attack at that moment, so of course you repeat Destroy hands -> Attack body... until the end.

Red Mage vs Thief:
I don't get why this is the only scenario where you kill the person you don't choose. Yeah, they were pretty bad people before, but they are living pretty seriously now... And you kill them over an orb... Why?

 Summoner vs Swordsmaster:
I just couldn't help chuckle when I saw the Summoner's ever-so-calm expression here. I mean, she spent half of her time crazy in the previous game and was also kinda going crazy again from stress in this game...

Getting gravely injured by a cat...

Merchant vs White Mage:
I personally think his cause was agreeable.

Black Mage vs Hunter:
Probably the most dark and depressing scenarios in the game. Not only that, but the Black Mage has a very powerful support ability for Magic users while the Hunter has one for physical attackers, making the decision on which one to take first hard.
And no, you still don't get to see her face.

Ninja vs Knight:
The scenario is kinda... ugh, because for one thing, Watson runs away and is never caught in-game.
Second, for some reason, he is able to disguise himself as either class PERFECTLY and somehow also give you the Asterisk when you defeat him disguised.
Err... How?

Valkryie vs Monk:
 Umm... Yeah. Stop jumping around, Valkryie.

 Superstar vs Pirate:
You get to enjoy a special BGM while fighting either one.

To be honest, over Yuu x Magnolia, I felt Ayame and Kuu had the best relationship in the game. Especially the GAR-ness(?) of Kuu.

I game-overed to him four times in a row to him because his Brave combo crushed me even as I Defaulted. That said, if you erase his attack boost every time he gets it, it should be fine, but...

Plays a surprisingly big role in the past. Don't care too much about his character though... And it would be nice if he changed to a cleaner outfit after being a bit more sane.

I thought I would have to fight both her and her boyfriend at first, but it turned out to just be her until Chapter 5. Without a doubt one of the top Asterisks in the game, since the Tomohawk's abilities can do so much by itself.
Oh, and the outfit is nice too.

As far as results goes, she probably did the most. The others killed random no-names, but she actually kills an Asterisk holder.
And for some reason, can make cats do fatal damage in one strike...

Time Mage vs Dark Knight:
Just like the Merchant, he actually seems like a good (or at least agreeable) guy in this game. Then again, the Dark Knight was kinda unreasonable...

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