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Bravely Second steps out of Final Fantasy's shadow

I’ll start this off with an important fact: Bravely Second lets you play as a Cat Mancer. It’s almost exactly what you’re thinking. You get feline ears of a variety and also a hat designed to resemble a gargantuan cat head. All your attacks involve evoking a tabby of some variety. It’s cute. Really cute. Tooth-achingly cute.

Anyway. There are some things that you need to know about Bravely Second: End Layer. It’s the quintessential JRPG, in that it features linear progression, turn-based combat, the need to save the world, and a gratuitous amount of grinding. It’s a very direct sequel to Bravely Default, which in turn was a kind-of-but-not-quite successor to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. And it is actually quite good.

For those who have played the original, Bravely Second feels considerably more playful than its predecessors, happily referencing pop culture staples like Star Wars and indulging in gratuitous, sometimes painful pun work. (The Cat Mancer’s the worst culprit. I’m not even kitten here.) The developers have also made an attempt to make the game more open-ended, requiring you to choose between jobs and their associated ideologies instead of simply mowing your way to your prize.

But asides from that? It feels very much like a strict continuation. The world of Luxendarc remains visually stunning, when you’re not otherwise pottering through the world map or a dungeon. Every town you visit is a watercolour masterpiece, beautiful in both halves of the day, and a pleasure to walk your tiny avatar through. It’s a mild pity that the character models aren’t quite as detailed as the settlements you visit, but you can’t have everything, can you?