Familiar 3

Breath of Fire 2

An interesting, terrifying horror story wrapped in bad localization and some of the worst gameplay decisions I’ve ever seen in an RPG. With a walkthrough, while cheating, the game is worth at least a playthrough as that bypasses the worst aspects of gameplay, but barring that I do not recommend trying this one.
Type Of Review: Familiar Run
Total Story Score: +15
Total Gameplay Score: -61
Golden Number: -103.51
Cheats: Oh yeah
Total Play Time: 3 days / 16.64 Hours
Time Reviewed: 1-6-2023

Spoiler Pluses and Minuses +

Story Positives:

  1. Animations: The animations in combat are quite legit
  2. Atmosphere: The entire game oozes the same atmosphere of being a gloomy, bleak, horrifying setting
  3. Brickwork: Combat backgrounds all look legit
  4. Brickwork: General brickwork across the whole game
  5. Brickwork: Simafort (and several other forts) all look awesome
  6. Brickwork: Towns all have surprisingly good looking features
  7. Brickwork: Tunlan gets its own noteworthy brickwork positive
  8. Doodads: Interiors, forts
  9. Doodads: Interiors, towns
  10. Doodads: Tunlan
  11. External Continuity: The game follows through on 1 quite neatly; the ruins of Myria Station, the consequences of having defeated Myria, the watering out of bloodlines
  12. Humor: The game is neat, quirky, and silly
  13. Internal Continuity: For how much of a mess it is, the game does a really solid job of keeping track of its own events, and sequences follow internal logic pretty well…
  14. Internal Continuity: …for a solid two positives
  15. Intro: The Intro might honestly be the best part of the entire story. The ‘daylight horror’ of being forgotten by your own town, the gaslighting by the townsfolk, and the reset to everyday…
  16. Intro: …for two positives
  17. Moment: Habaruku’s introduction, Tiga and Claris’ death, and the crowd just… watching
  18. Moment: Rand’s big scene, and the loss of his mother
  19. MSQ: The entire Arena arc is honestly just as messed up as it needs to be and is a good early insight into what the world is like
  20. MSQ: Highfort and Sten’s section has some… obvious issues, but the more down to earth storytelling, the implications, and the character moments help sell it
  21. MSQ: Joker Gang arc is also really messed up, but still does some great stuff for the characters and the world building
  22. Outro: The very final ending with the portraits, slides, and names is nice
  23. Plot: Everything to do with how they first brainwash then torture people to produce more prayers for DeathEvan
  24. Plot: The entire arc having to do with why Deathevn is sealed, why they let him grow, and how we have to deal with him is logical, interesting, and follows neatly from the events of BoF1
  25. Storyboarding: Credit where it’s do, the storyboarding of each scene is pretty good
  26. Storytelling Mechanic: Dragon tears and how they showcase people’s reactions to you
  27. Visual Storytelling: Intermittent, but there’s bits here and there that do a good job of fleshing out areas

Story Negatives:

  1. Localization: This is one of the worst localized games I’ve ever played…
  2. Localization: …for a full…
  3. Localization: …three negatives
  4. Localization: Sten’s section just noticeable is worse than the rest of the game
  5. Moment: Sten’s introductory scene is not only out of character for him, it completely screws with the tone of both him and the adventure (especially considering he then joins your party)
  6. Writing: There’s a lot of idiot ball combined with cutscene incompetence the party puts up with
  7. MSQ: SimaFort. Just… all of SimaFort is aggravating. It’s not silly enough to be funny and it’s not serious enough to be horrifying, it misses the mark in both directions…
  8. MSQ: …earning two negatives
  9. Outro: The lead up to and encounter with DeathEvn, and the first part of the ending, can go directly to hell
  10. Outro: Visuals. The Infinity dungeon is the worst kind of bland, boring, blurry mess…
  11. Outro: …for two negatives
  12. Outro: Music. The music direction for the entirety of Infinity can suck a lemon

Gameplay Positives:

  1. Music: The music that is there is pretty legit
  2. Viscerality: Spells, attacks, and animations look and feel awesome
  3. Penalty For Failure: Same as BoF1
  4. QoL: Purchasing and equipping
  5. MSQ: Having to rescue the villagers from the facehuggers
  6. Info In Game: Item mouseovers
  7. Kit: The Fusion system is a great way to vary up and customize your characters
  8. Minigame: Hunting is a fun little side game with different playstyles based on who you hunt with
  9. Minigame: Fishing is a neat, fun little minigame
  10. Alternate Progression: Fishing, hunting, and cooking
  11. Enemy Variety: Surprisingly good variety for all the other problems they have
  12. Fast Travel: The Warp spell makes its return
  13. Overworld: Generally decent, old style ‘here’s where to go next’ Overworld design (at least for the first half)

Gameplay Negatives:

  1. Music: Repetition repetition
  2. Music: Music restarts every time it plays
  3. Difficulty Curve: The game’s difficulty curve is the second worst I’ve ever seen in a JRPG. The phrase ‘every encounter is a boss fight’ isn’t really an exaggeration, and is absolutely all over the place based on party makeup and which dungeon or boss you’re on…
  4. Difficulty Curve: …for a full…
  5. Difficulty Curve: …three negatives
  6. Intro: I mean. The intro, structurally, is solid; Town, dungeon, boss. But that whole sequence can take up to an hour just because of how badly designed the individual details are
  7. Encounter Rate: I’ve actually never seen an encounter rate this bad. There’s three rough encounter rates, and at worst it’s roughly one every 3 steps on average which is absolutely bonkers…
  8. Encounter Rate: …for a full…
  9. Encounter Rate: …three negatives
  10. Encounter Rate: The overworld encounter rate and mandatory backtracking thereof
  11. Seconds In Minutes: Loading in and out of combat
  12. Enemy Design: Enemies are badly designed. Bad health, bad damage, bad gold, bad exp
  13. Backtracking: Every God damned time you have to go back through Mt. Fuji, which just gets worse the higher level you are
  14. Backtracking: Hope you like doing almost every dungeon twice
  15. Song: The dungeon song. You know the one…
  16. Song: …and in addition to being an awful, short loop song, it plays constantly across the entire friggin’ game
  17. MSQ: So first you have to walk all the way back across the entire overworld (keep in mind the encounter rate)
  18. MSQ: Then you have to do it again
  19. MSQ: Then again
  20. MSQ: Then a fourth time
  21. Kit: The character abilities almost universally suck, with the sole exceptions of Bleu and Nina
  22. Walkthroughitis: General negative for Act 1 and a general lack of direction (talk to this ONE NPC to advance)
  23. Walkthroughitis: Shamans. Great, fantastic feature completely locked behind a whole lot of who knows what does what and how…
  24. Walkthroughitis: …in addition to good luck even finding some of the later shamans
  25. Walkthroughitis: Township. You get to change your style (which changes gameplay), change who you recruit where, but… nothing indicates what is where on any level. Where to find people to recruit, what they can do, who goes to which houses (because people can only be in specific houses), and the fact that it’s permanent…
  26. Walkthroughitis: …for a full…
  27. Walkthroughitis: …three negatives
  28. Walkthroughitis: Cooking. A great feature completely locked behind multiple walkthroughitis problems
  29. Walkthroughitis: SimaFort gets its own negative for being a whole lot of total lack of direction
  30. Walkthroughitis: Everything to do with recruiting Spar
  31. Walkthroughitis: The lead up to Highfort and the lead up to the Queen dungeon
  32. Walkthroughitis: The entire Evrai sequence, before and after
  33. Grind: Forest area. Get to grinding
  34. Grind: Arena! Hope you’re ready to grind
  35. Grind: SimaFort region, and another round of grinding
  36. Grind: FarmTown and a weirdly out of place spot of grinding
  37. Grind: Infinity is yet another grind hell (mostly the stat type, not traditional leveling)
  38. Level: Forest labyrinth. Hope you enjoy long twisty areas with high encounter rate and irritating music
  39. Level: Joker Gang hideout (twice!). Hope you enjoy tight irritating corridors with irritating music
  40. Level: Witch’s Tower. Lots of the usual issues but also those friggin’ ‘puzzles’ which are just time wasting trial and error crap
  41. Level: SimaFort dungeon. An irritating, backtracky, confusing mess filled with frustrating enemies and bosses
  42. Level: Inside the whale and yet another irritating, gross mess of aggravation
  43. Level: Highfort is another example of frustrating lengthy irritations
  44. Level: Mt. Maori is already irritating (and requires Sten!) but if you screw it up, have fun doing it all over again
  45. Level: The memory maze is honestly one of the most irritating dungeons in the entire game with the neat-but-frustrating vision mechanic
  46. Level: SkyTower… twice! Hope you memorized the trip and enjoy a timer before instant death
  47. Boss: Augus. Hits like a truck right out the bat and there’s really no proper kit or strategy
  48. Boss: Joker, who has the same general problem as before
  49. Boss: Terrapin is yet another out of nowhere, status effect problem
  50. Boss: Kuwadora the beef gate
  51. Boss: Kuwadora the asshole
  52. Boss: Algernon is the worst boss in the game, and it comes out of nowhere and is very easy to walk into without realizing what you’re in for…
  53. Boss: …with adds that do damage and heal and recover every single turn…
  54. Boss: …on top of the boss itself being the usual bad boss problem
  55. Boss: Shupkay is just an irritating fight
  56. Boss: Aruhamel and his ‘fun’ aspect of actually removing your spells as you fight him
  57. Boss: Paladin can heal and hits like an absolute truck and, worse, you have to fight him with just Rand
  58. Difficulty Curve: Sten Section. Hope you enjoy being beaten in the face by enemies not designed for one glass cannon who’s probably under-leveled
  59. Walkthroughitis: Sten Section. Nothing indicates it’s coming and that by itself makes the whole thing so much worse
  60. Itemization: Sten Section. They could have done so much to smooth this over in items or kit and they… didn’t
  61. MSQ: Sten Section. The Sten Section. So named after this exact portion of the game. For all the individual problems I’ve already mentioned, it deserves additional negatives…
  62. MSQ: …for being such total bullcrap
  63. Outro: Encounter rate. Yes, the encounter rate of Infinity deserves…
  64. Outro: …two negatives by itself
  65. Outro: Length. The Infinity dungeon is aptly named, and it just goes on and on and on…
  66. Outro: …and on and on and on
  67. Outro: Waste of time thanks to uselessness of trash, especially by this point in the game where the only meaningful stat gains are via item ups…
  68. Outro: …which is even worse when you consider the encounter rate and the length of the dungeon
  69. Outro: Mandatory side quest with nothing indicating it’s even there
  70. Outro: Barubary being an absolute face mulcher in both forms. It really should be a fun fight, but instead it’s just aggravating, especially since the recovery and save spot is right AFTER him…
  71. Outro: …plus good frickin’ luck if you fight him with just Ryu, thinking that’s the ‘right’ choice
  72. Outro: DeathEvn is a big, fat, boring nothingburger…
  73. Outro: …who has dull music and cheap instant death attacks
  74. Unskippable Cutscenes: The usual for the era