Review by BigReed
Reviewed: 04/24/14 | Updated: 05/02/14
Who knew making babies with pretty girls could be a little boring
Clean and vibrant art direction, 3D models look nice, packed full of role-playing elements, the star children concept is fun due to the amount of classes, combat system is simple but challenging, plenty of side content
Voice acting is hit or miss, story isnt very impressive, the heroines could have been fleshed out more, dungeon crawling really drags on, the act of classmating is cheesy
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a game that I didnt expect to see released in North America. Atlus took up the publishing reigns, and did a fine job of getting the word out to role-playing enthusiasts in the West. The concept of Conception is a tough sell to an American audience, however, those willing to give the game a shot will find a pretty enjoyable experience to gamers looking for a bit of a dungeon grinder mixed with fun and light-hearted social aspects with the girls of the game. Conception II feels a lot like Persona 3 and 4 in terms of presentation, music, art style, and the social aspects of interacting with your classmates. The biggest differences between the games though is that Persona is better in almost every single category. This isnt exactly a bad thing though, because Conception II is a pretty unique title. Not many games like this make it to the West, and its always nice to see a publisher that is willing to bring over niche titles. Chances are, if youre the least bit interested in Conception II, you will probably enjoy it. Although the pacing is a bit slow, its still very easy to sink 40-50 hours into this title with the amount of content provided. Though Conception II has some large flaws, I still found myself playing the game almost non-stop after release. If you enjoy role-playing games, especially of the Japanese breed, then pick up Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.
Dungeon crawling, side quests, and making babies
In North America, gamers never got the chance to experience the first Conception that released on the PSP. For some reason however, Atlus was able to bring the sequel here, even though the game might be one of the best examples of what constitutes niche gaming in America. With a low-cost marketing campaign, Atlus was able to convey to fans why they should consider giving the series a shot, and even released one of the better demos I ever played. The demo, which allowed for unlimited play, showed Vita and 3ds owners almost every aspect of the game, with full explanations on the various intricacies of the title. Another nice feature is that the demo save carried over to the full retail release. For the first time in my gaming career, not only did a demo sell me on a game (I normally never download demos) but it also made me physically anticipate the release of the full game. Conception II makes a pretty good first impression, but that impression slowly begins to change over time. The game is extremely structured, which is definitely a good thing. Dungeon crawlers can sometimes be either way too difficult in the beginning, or full of features and gameplay elements that are poorly explained. Conception II sticks the player in a city that is navigated by selecting certain sections from a menu, and from there, players can classmate, go battle in dusk circles, shop, interact with the heroines socially, and various other activities. Basically, the story progresses through completing main dusk circles that appear, and the game also offers side dungeons and quests to complete. Most of these quests are pretty basic in nature, and require the player to either kill a certain amount of enemies, or collect specific items. The quests are easily accepted and turned in, and the player is rewarded with equipment and other items.
Dungeons start off, especially in the demo, very easily. The main character is paired with one of the seven girls in the game, and the other three groups that follow you around in the dungeons, are comprised of three separate star children that operate as one unit. There are tons of classes in the game, so each unit can be pretty diverse and effective. The game also encourages player to experiment with what they like, and utilize new parties often through the independence feature in the game. Star children not only fight for you, but you can also release them into the city to level up and unlock new facilities. Structured dungeon crawling is pretty fun in the game, but the biggest drawback is that it soon becomes drawn out and very repetitive. An average play through, with completing most of the content, takes about 40-50 hours. Of that time, I believe the experience would have benefited from about eight hours being removed. This could have been done a number of ways, like removing some of the monsters from each floor, or buy having battles give out more experience. Players can activate chain bonuses by surrounding enemies properly and attacking them, but this only gives a light experience boost, and often puts your parties in danger on tougher enemies. Still, the content within the game is pretty fun, and the design of the game allows for quick pick-up-and-play sessions.
As the name of the game suggests, the player will be interacting with the heroines of the game, and conducting the act of classmating, which is essentially holding hands in provocative positions to create star children. Star children are comprised of many different classes common in role-playing games, and are created within the church in the game. Outside of the combat, players build relationships with the girls of the game, and the more they like you, and when you include more in the ritual, the more powerful star children you receive. The concept is similar to other monster collecting games, in that you create different classes that specialize in certain stats, and use them to battle for you. Creating, and releasing your star children is a fun concept, and keeps parties fresh for the players, but it also drags on when you reach the maximum amount of children. Eventually, you simply have too many to choose from, and you have to begin the process of releasing them into the city one by one. This is a common issue with Conception II. The game offers plenty of unique and fun gameplay ideas, but then they stretch them out for too long.
My high school experience was nothing like this
From my experience with video games, one thing I have learned is that Japanese schools seem like a blast. Games with these elements in them are always very social in nature, and do a nice job of making the player feel important. In Conception II, you are Gods Gift. Your high ether count allows you to travel in dusk circles and slay monsters, and even gives you the great ability to create star children. The game gives you a somewhat annoying best friend, mysterious authority figures, a rival, and seven girls that all have a crush on you, in one way or another. The game gives off a very playful vibe, and even when story elements are to be taken as serious, Conception still keeps things light. The seven girls in the game are all different from each other, in both personality and appearance. The problem though is that none of their stories really fully develop. Even when you learn the inner most thoughts and backstories of some of the girls, the game presents them in a manner that leaves the player wanting more. Even when a major story element was presented, it was done in a way that made that portion of the game feel unimportant. Some of the earlier girls seemed interesting at first, but as their stories unwind, I began to not like them. The girls that I did not like at first ended up leaving a good impression on me as I learned more about them. By the end of the game, I had liked a couple of the characters, and basically wanted to avoid others. While the social elements are present, and make up a good chunk of the game, they fail to leave a big impact on the player. Other games have done similar things much better with more focused writing and character development. Regardless though, the overall atmosphere of Conception II is enjoyable with the upbeat music, character interactions, and appealing art style.
Recommendation: Buy It
Chances are, if you were the least bit interested in Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, you will most likely enjoy the title. The Vita version trumps its 3ds counterpart if you own both systems, and the retail copy of the game even includes the soundtrack for no extra charge. Role-playing fans will find themselves right at home with all of the customization, dungeon crawling, and light-hearted social interactions, but even though my time with Conception II was largely positive, the game still has its flaws. The dungeons drag on and the heroines of the game are never fully realized, but overall, Conception II is still worth playing if you are a fan of jrpgs.
Product Release: Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (US, 04/15/14)
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