If it ain't broke don't fix it. That motto clearly applies to Bravely Second: End Layer, the sequel to the hit 2012 RPG Bravely Default, available on the portable Nintendo 3DS.
Usually, video game sequels attempt to top themselves, but when your source material is as exquisite as Bravely Default, there's no need. Consistency looks good on Bravely Second, too, and fans should be able to jump right into the game like a favourite pair of shoes.
For those who missed out on Bravely Default, however, there is some catching up to understand the world of Luxendarc. Bravely Second picks up the story two-and-a-half years after the events in Bravely Default, during a period of relative peace that is disrupted by Kaiser Oblivion.
During the opening battle, Kaiser Oblivion abducts Agnès Oblige, a main party character from the previous game who is now Pope Agnès. In the battle, her defenders are handily taken down by the Kaiser, including main protagonist Yew Geneolgia, the leader of her bodyguard unit, Crystalguard.
Things get much more complicated from there on for Yew, though the goal is ultimately straight-forward: save Agnès and save the world.
If you're familiar with Japanese-style RPG mechanics like random encounters and turn-based battles, playing Bravely Second will be like, well, second nature.
The beautiful storybook-style graphics never cease to amaze either, even if the voice acting and dialogue are sometimes childish and groan-inducing.
Those new to the series will still enjoy Bravely Second: End Layer without losing the plot, and for fans of the first game, the continuation of the story is not to be missed, as it includes many where-are-they-now updates and sidebars included in the "Party Chat" feature.
Bravely Second: End Layer is an engrossing, rich RPG experience that shouldn't be missed for fans of the genre.
Retail review copy provided by Nintendo of Canada.
Watch a review from Nintendoblog.ca
About Robert J. Ballantyne
Robert J.Ballantyne is a senior editor at Popjournalism and Creative Director at Artsculture.ca. Previously, he was a journalist at the CBC on a number of news programs including the fifth estate, Marketplace and The National. He also worked as a staff writer at the Toronto Star.