A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bravely Second: End Layer is a Japanese role-playing game with frequent but fairly mild violence. Players control a group of characters -- some male and some female -- who battle human and fantastical foes in order to save their world. Combat involves no blood or gore; enemies simply stagger, fall, and disappear when defeated. The protagonists only fight to defend themselves and out of a sense of duty to help others, but endure loss and unexpected betrayals in the process. They're sometimes faced with difficult decisions for which there's no single right answer. This results in conflicts where opposing parties -- both with seemingly noble goals -- end up fighting each other. Parents should also be aware that while there's no explicit sexuality or foul language, the often humorous dialogue includes puns that are a little racy, including a frequently recurring joke that revolves around how the word Ba'al (meaning demon in the game) sounds like a part of the male anatomy.
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What's it about?
Set a few years after the events of Bravely Default, BRAVELY SECOND: END LAYER sets a quartet of heroes on a journey to once again save the troubled world of Luxendarc, now under threat by a new villain named Kaiser Oblivion who rains terror from his floating crystalline fortress, the Skyhold. Players begin by taking control of a charming young man named Yew who excels both as a fighter and a scholar. They'll gradually add to Yew's party a woman from the moon who has also suffered the Kaiser's wrath as well as a pair of returning heroes from the first game: the orphan-turned-champion Tiz and the endearing (and always hungry) warrior Edea. Traveling between cities, journeying across the countryside, over the ocean, and through dungeons, the group engages in a steady stream of turn-based battles against both monsters and human foes. The key to these battles is the ability to either spend up to four actions in advance to attack with force but risk leaving your party open to multiple counterattacks, or to go on defense, taking hits with reduced damage while saving up actions that can be spent all at once. Beyond battles and the main narrative, players are encouraged to seek out and complete side stories, slowly rebuild a settlement on the moon in order to gain rewards in the form of items, and play a crafting mini-game in which the main characters snip, stitch, and paste together colorful toys.
Is it any good?
If you loved the original game, which was terrific and had a surprisingly innovative combat system, and just wanted more of the same, you're in luck, because this feels less like a sequel and more like a gigantic postscript. With similar visual presentation, many of the same characters and locations, and nearly identical combat and jobs systems, this follow-up is a clear case of of a game maker sticking with what works. Even the storytelling, which includes loads of optional text-based party chats as well as a surprising amount of spoken dialogue in key cut scenes, has a very familiar vibe and the same sense of humor.
That's not to say there aren't any subtle improvements, though. Players have been given more control over the pacing of battles, thanks to the ability to control encounter rates and a revamping of the auto-battle system that allows players to preprogram sets of up to four commands for each party member, then sit back and watch as they do their thing whenever a battle starts. Plus, the game's jobs system -- which allows any character to switch between any of the game's two-dozen-plus unlockable and upgradable jobs, mixing and matching abilities as they go -- has been tweaked so that attack strength has more to do with character level than job level, making it less risky to experiment with new low-level jobs when fighting tougher enemies. So while Bravely Second: End Layer may not deliver anything as fresh as its predecessors battle system, it still ought to satisfy anyone who wished the first game never ended.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about screen time. It's easy for kids to get obsessed with handheld games and continue playing them when parents aren't around to supervise, so what's your strategy to ensure your kids don't overdo it with handheld games?
Families can also talk about making hard decisions. Not all choices in life are clear cut, and sometimes you'll be forced to make a decision that won't please everyone involved, so how can you go about making such a choice wisely?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, strategy
Emotional Development: perspective taking
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: April 15, 2016
- Genre: Role Playing
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.