From the moment I started playing the demo, Ballad of the Three Cavaliers, I was hooked, it’s such a good prelude and introduction to the complete Bravely Second game. I liked it so much I just had to get the game and now that it’s in my hands, I just can’t stop playing it and at first I was going to review just the game on its own, along with notes taken during playing through the demo, but now I am of a different mind. For me, given the differences and where the story ended in one and has gone in the other, Ballad of the Three Cavaliers deserves more than just a mention, but a couple of paragraphs, so with that in mind, it’s time to begin.
Acting as a prelude to the main game Bravely Second, the Ballad of the Three Cavaliers is the 7-10 hour tale/adventure of Yew Geneolgia, Janne Angard and Nikolai Nikolanikov, who have been sent to Al-Khampis, the City of Learning, under the orders of Pope Agnès Oblige due to recent reports of trouble brewing in the area. First order of business it to meet up with your appointed guide to show you around, only you never meet your true guide, instead you meet Magnolia Arch, the French accented Ba’al Buster from the Moon.
It’s not long before the Three Cavaliers and their “guide” set off, investigating disturbances and pretty much finding trouble wherever they go. What I really enjoyed during the progression of the demo is the camaraderie between the group and how, despite being respected and the leader of the group, Yew often finds himself being the butt of Janne’s and Nikolai’s jests, despite being done in an affectionate way, but they aren’t the only ones to harbour feelings towards Yew as Magnolia does too and she’s not at all shy about it, although she does make him forget everything that went on during their adventure, at the end of the demo. Come the end of the demo.
Now the gameplay of the demo, I just loved everything about it and found it all so easy to understand, including the Brave system, which is just to die for because there have been plenty of times when I’ve played a Final Fantasy game that I’ve found myself wishing to be able to do an extra attack here or there, just to finish off my enemy a little sooner and here in Bravely Second, and Default, who needs an extra attack when you can have an extra twelve? Sure by having all four of your characters attack four times in a row does leave you open to attack from your enemies in-between waiting four your Brave Points to revert back to zero, but the extra attacks do come in handy, especially for levelling up much faster by chaining battles.
Something else the demo had available right from the get-go, besides Al-Khampis, which you can’t get to until you’re in Chapter 1, is almost every aspect of the game is right there to be enjoyed. You can buy some of the best early on spells and equipment. There are a few “dungeons” for you to quest through and bosses you can take on and beat, who upon falling against your sword, you’re able to take their Asterisk, a special stone in which enables the user to change their vocation. Unlike Bravely Defaults total of 23 asterisks to collect, Bravely Second has 30 and the jobs are just as great as ever, bringing some real variety to the battlefield which all you characters can partake in.
The “build a village” function from Bravely Default is back, except this time we’re restoring Fort-Lune, a settlement on the Moon, which was recently devastated by a very powerful Ba’al. The great part about this, despite it being a function that wasn’t as liked as much as it could have been in the prequel, is any and all progress you make here, can be carried over to the main game provided you brought/receive your own copy. I really enjoyed everything I saw in the demo, including Party Chat, battling a Ba’al and even the type of humour the game has, now that I’ve spent enough a ton of hours playing Bravely Second, I am in awe of this game and with that, it’s time for End Layer’s story.
We return to Luxendarc two and a half years after the events of Bravely Default, during a time when Agnès Oblige is not the Pope, leader of the Crystal Orthodoxy and it attempting to broker a peace treaty with the Duchy of Eternia, but before the treaty can be signed, Kaiser Oblivion shows up, along with Anne, his fairy cohort to cause trouble. I saw cause trouble, Kaiser Oblivion aims to stop the peace treaty and kidnap Agnès. Naturally Yew, the protagonist from the demo, leader of the Three Cavaliers and member of the Crystalguard, does what he can to stop Kaiser Oblivion, but even with the help of Grand Marshal Braev Lee and Dark Knight Alternis Dim, they are bested in battle. Kaiser Oblivion carries Agnès unconscious body and departs with Anne in tow.
Gaining consciousness a week later, Yew is in fact alive and well, well still recovering from the wounds he sustained, but he’s not going to let that stop him from finding out what has happened during the time he’s been out. It is at Gathelatio’s Sanctum that he bumps into old pals Janne and Nikolai, who quickly fill Yew in on everything and as expected, Yes is all too eager to storm the Skyhold and rescue Agnès and from there, an adventure of twists, battles, betrayals and a few laughs is completely underway.
Two features in the game that I really enjoyed were the “Tell Me Agnès,” a feature in which allows the kidnapped Agnès communicate to Yew and friends, assisting them whenever possible and conversing to them and then there’s the Chompcraft mini-game. A mini-game in which sees your characters make plush toys that you can sell for CP, which enables you to buy better tools to make better plush toys, thus giving you more CP, which can be exchanged for pg much later on in the game.
One really cool thing about the mini-game is the fact you can walk away for a few minutes while your characters finish the latest batch and sell it as so as you’re ready, enabling you to do other things, other things like me writing this review, while the gang enjoy a little snack and then work like mad.
Admittedly, the game can feel a bit repetitive at times, especially when trying to level up new jobs, it’s not completely necessary to do so, but its repetitive nonetheless, as is going back to the same dungeons to open up the blue chests and just the general back and forth, but it’s not all that bad when the game does have a lot to it, such as mini-games, side quests and just a beautifully designed world and graphics that have the game feeling like a Final Fantasy meets Pokémon designed game, set in a wondrous, hand-drawn world.
From my experience I’ve found this to be just as good as any of the earlier Final Fantasy games, it’s easy on the eye, it has a continuous flow that allows you to take a detour and its more story packed than its last instalment and took what worked there and made it much better here, so it is certainly a game to play and enjoy. So with that in mind, how about some Pros & Cons:
- Excellent battle mechanics, in the form of being able to use a very specific set of moves you’ve already created. Then there’s being able to “Summon Friend,” which allows you to summon a friend’s selected character to administer a blow to your enemy or heal one of your characters. Now this feature really comes in handy for when you’re up against a really tough boss on your last legs and you have a friend who is so much further along in the game than you are. Then of course there’s Braving and special attacks.
- Plenty of clothing options available thanks to all the asterisks you can collect. Not that you can get them all in a single play-though, but that’s what New Game+ is for!
- Utilization of StreetPass functions, being able to send and receive data and net-invite players, which you can use to aid you in battle and every time you do net-invite someone (able to send 5 invites a day), your population on Fort-Lune grows by 5.
- Stunningly created world, which is a pleasure to enjoy and fun and the story really isn’t half bad either, especially with all of the twists.
- The Chompcraft mini-game in no way takes over your life and actually frees you up to do other things, whilst continuing to play.
- Plenty of replay value and likable characters. Not all of them will appeal to everyone, but at least one will and one is more than enough.
- Does become repetitive the more you play it.
- As good as the Tell Me Agnés function is, for someone who has been kidnapped by the Big Bad guy, she seems to have a lot of freedom and free time to talk to Yew and friends about even the most smallest of things.
- I can’t stop saying “Gravy.” (Thanks for that Yew).
- Magnolia’s accent, it’s got to be one of the worst French accents I’ve heard in a game and half the time it does seem like the voice actor seemed like they forgot what accent they were meant to be doing before suddenly remember. Granted it’s not that large a con but it is noticeable and once you have noticed it, you keep noticing it.
All in all, I really enjoyed the time I got to spend in the land of Luxendarc and would recommend it to anyone, so for that, I give it a solid 9.2/10.0 busted Ba’als. It’s such a great series Square Enix have going on here and certainly worth keeping an eye on and if say one day they decide to do a game in all its HD glory to be released on home console, that would be a game I’d have to stick right into my wish-list. Still you haven’t got to go out and buy Bravely Second: End Layer just because I say so, it is a free world, but I do strongly suggest you give the demo a try and see what you think of that because it does a great job and showing you quite a few of the great qualities this game possesses and with it being a demo, if you don’t like it, you can just delete it. At least you can then say you tried.
But as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of my own and it is encouraged for you to make your own.