Bravely Second Hands-On

It was always a little amazing to me that Square Enix was surprised by the success of Bravely Default in the West. Living out in Japan, as with Final Fantasy Type-0, I had no trouble getting my hands on the game, and when I did I was certain that old-school RPG fans back home would love it. It was a blast from the past, a game with the simplicity and charm of the SNES-era classics - and now it's getting a second run out with the simplistically titled 'Bravely Second'. 

The charming art style of the original remains.

One of the busier hands-on titles I saw at Square Enix's booth at this year's Tokyo Game Show, Bravely Second chooses to shake things up by offering an all-new cast of characters to play as in the demo. Although most of them were still familiar to the tropes set out in the original game, one of the characters offered a spell-slinging class with interesting new abilities.

New classes are one of the key additions to Bravely Second, with the rest of the game opting not to mess with the formula that garnered such success for the original title too much. Part of the point of Bravely Default was of course to evoke feelings of older RPGs from a simpler time - and the cool-headed expansion of ideas expressed in the original here seems to fit that well.

The demo tasks the party with tracking down a missing child in a sprawling forest. Though much of the game's content in terms of menu, classes, and so on was locked away, there was still plenty to see.

A new town had some lovely scenery that appeared to pop with more definition than those in the original game, and the forest dungeon where the lion's share of the demo is set seems more varied with a multi-level structure that feels significantly improved over equivalent areas in the original game.

The game looked as lovely as the original, and generally seemed a little sharper and better visually defined. While I'm personally not much a fan of it, the 3D pops here better than the original title, too.

In combat, the new magic-driven class has abilities surrounding elements such as ice and lightning, as well as magical-powered physical attacks. The class is all about combinations - you pick an element and then an attack type, with four types of each to choose from.

Combat systems appear to aspire towards expansion and evolution, not revolution.

This means you could cast a fire burst that hits all enemies, for instance, or an icy mist that slowly damages one enemy with with the cold over several turns. It's a clever idea, and stands apart from a regular mage well.

The demo culminates in a boss battle against a new character who is sporting another one of the new but as yet unplayable classes, a gun-wielding ranged specialist with a plethora of support abilities titled The Tomahawk - and even in that battle it's plain that the aim is to come up with some truly different character classes with some unique gameplay hooks.

The demo of Bravely Default ended up being one of the most straightforward ones I got my hands on at TGS, but it was also one of the most enjoyable. In a manner of speaking, that sums up Bravely Default perfectly - a return to simplistic roots, but I'll be damned if it isn't enjoyable and addictive. 

I look forward to getting my hands on the final version when it launches this Winter in Japan. A Western release isn't announced, but after the surprise success of the previous localization, it's pretty safe to assume either Nintendo or Square Enix will bring it over. If you can't wait, import pre-orders are soon to be available. If you're yet to play the original, I recommend you get to it.