As with its release of Bravely Default, Nintendo put out a free demo for Bravely Second in Europe last week ahead of its release in the region on February 26, 2016 — the demo will also be released a few weeks prior to its April 15, 2016 North American release date. Serving to introduce players to the battle system and its job-based character customisation and progression, it gives a good indicator sample of combat to new players as well as letting returning players sample a selection of its new jobs. However, much like the first game, it should be noted that the structure based on short quests is highly unlikely to be indicative of the game as a whole.
The demo acts as a prelude to the main game, though players certainly won't be missing anything plot-related if they should decide to not play the demo. New character Yew Geneologia and his two cohorts Janne Angard and Nikolai Nikolanikov — together known as the Crystalguard's Three Cavaliers — are instructed by Agnès Oblige, who is now the Pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy Church, to investigate possible issues in the town of Al-Khampis. They are soon joined by another new character in the form of Magnolia Arch, who is said to hail from the moon.
Not much is revealed about the plot or any of the character's backstories, though hints are dropped here and there about a likely threat that will come in the main game, and as far as it cares, the events have no bearing to what may come next thanks to some convenient memory-wiping at the end. Returning Asterisk holders Fiore DeRosa, Praline á la Mode, and Nobutsuna Kamiizumi get some slightly fanservicey cameos to help introduce the Asterisk system of unlocking new jobs by defeating their holders. Two new Asterisk holders make their debuts though, granting access to the new Hawkeye and Exorcist jobs.
Players start off with access to four jobs, the returning Freelancer and Valkyrie plus the new Astrologian and Wizard. The aforementioned Asterisk holders give players five more to test out throughout the demo, adding in the Red Mage, Performer, Swordmaster, Hawkeye, and Exorcist. Players cannot fully level up each job to get the most out of them, but the four levels available provide a decent indication of how each brings its own specialisations to combat (with it also set up so that players can only view the outfits for each on Magnolia).
With the European and North American release of Bravely Default already being based on the enhanced For the Sequel version of the game, previous players will be well versed in its combat and character progression, plus certain features like the adjustable random encounter rate. The game uses the basic turn-based template but puts a big twist on that by letting character use up to four actions on a turn if the wish. This is handled by the BP counter: if it is negative at the start of a turn then that character will not get an action and is defenceless. The BP counter goes up by one each turn, however, if a character Defaults (defends) then it goes up an extra notch. Most actions use up one BP, though certain job skills can use more. Learning when it's a good time to use multiple attacks and when to defend is a key part of the Bravely battle system, and is well demonstrated in some of the boss battles on the demo.
The demo also offers a very limited example of Bravely Second's variant on the village rebuiling mini-game from Bravely Default and it doesn't really offer any story-related context for it at this stage. Other familiar aspects of the previous title show up, such as the extensive U's Journal (replacing D's Journal) that provides the bestiary and all other relevant in-game info, including fun little comments from the party members. There is also the StreetPass feature that lets players replace a party member's action with one that another player has saved on their game, and the SP system that grants players a limited number of free actions that are replenished by leaving the game in sleep mode. Though billed as a ten-hour experience, the demo can be comfortably done in around five to six hours.
Returning players won't miss much if they choose to skip the demo as the rewards for loading a demo save into the full game aren't huge, but it's an entertaining enough little offering to get back into the swing of things and test out some of the new jobs, and there is a 10% eShop discount on the full game just for downloading it before March 10, 2016. Meanwhile, new players may appreciate the chance to play around with the highly enjoyable combat, but as stated before, should be heavily aware that the game flow is not indicative of how events and story progression will play out in the main game.