Review by neptunerune
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars for PS Vita
Before purchasing any games for my PS Vita I always make it a habit to read and/or watch reviews of a particular game Im getting. It was, however, different when I saw Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars on the shelf of a local toy store. Ive never played the first game but the minute I saw its cover, I knew I was in love with it at first sight so I bought it in a heartbeat.
I then began reading about how similar yet lacking it was compared to Atlus giant hit, Persona 4: Golden. Trust me, this game has its fair share of bad reviews but dont let them get in the way. Conception II has its own charm and its strengths more than make up for its shortcomings.
I plugged it in without expecting anything and realized that I couldnt put it down. Here are important gameplay elements:
1.) Plot - Conception II follows the story of Wake Archus and his quest for revenge. Mankinds desires and negativity have caused Dusk Circles to appear in different parts of the world and monsters are proliferating within them, causing havoc once they pour out. It is up to Wake and his friends to sterilize the dusk circles and restore peace.
2.) Graphics and Navigation- Sprites are sharp, colorful, vibrant and incredibly detailed. Spells/Skills, though not as insanely animated as most games, are still a treat to watch.
Your world is confined to a fort city that is subdivided into facilities that either open up automatically at the start a certain chapter or unlocked when the city levels up. These subdivisions are arranged in an icon pane, making it VERY EASY to navigate the entire city. The menus are also easy to understand.
Events can be triggered by heading to an area that is aptly labeled Event or you can select Progress Story. Yes, the game will not progress if you dont want to. If you want to spend an eternity training, go ahead! While in the city, characters talk in their nicely drawn anime portraits that seem to be breathing. Female sprites have their boobies jiggle at times and its not as distracting as what some reviews claimed.
4.) Classmating System - This is an innovative yet very suggestive gameplay element which, in my opinion, could be the reason why ESRB gave this game an M rating.
The sacred ritual of classmating involves combining the Ether of an S-rank male with the Star Power of an elite class female to create Star Children. The ritual can be performed by the hero with any heroine [there are seven heroines hence the title] and interesting 3D cutscenes will be shown. They are merely holding each others hands despite the suggestive nature of the cutscenes.
An interesting online-only feature twist, the ClassMANting System, allows the hero to do the ritual with a fellow male student, giving birth to star children that are very quick to raise but have limited powers.
5.) Star Children - You can give birth to as many star children as you like. When you start out, youll have three star children and their maximum level is 10. When the heroine theyre born from gets stronger and grows in intimacy (you have to sorta date them and give them gifts just like in the PSOne Atlus classic, Thousand Arms) , even more powerful star children can be born. I was able to birth a Magic Knight as early as the 2nd chapter and her maximum level is 99. This job class is clearly more powerful than the rest that are available to me at that point in the game because she will keep on gaining levels/stat bonuses.
Other job classes are attainable only by obtaining certain single-use items that can force what the newborn can be just like the Witch (stronger female magician) and Mercenary (stronger male swordis) job classes.
Once star children reach their maximum level, you can send them out to the world via the Independence feature and get some stat increasing items. You cant get them back but they will cause the fort city and all its facilities to level up. Theres a facility called Scavenger and you can send two of the most recent star children you granted independence to plunder dungeons on your behalf and come back with rare items after a certain amount of time has lapsed.
DOWNSIDE: All star children start at level 1 just like their respective moms so you have to take each one of them into previously cleared dungeons to gain experience. Though it increases replay value, its without a doubt one heck of a chore if you release a level 92 max star child to raise one that can reach level 99.
6.) Dungeons - There are main and sub dungeons that you can beat over and over (minus the bosses for the main ones). I think theyre randomly generated. Im just not sure. Make sure to always pay attention to the dungeon map to help you ease through every hall of each floor. Items are random and infinite and they reset each time you leave so keep an eye out for rares.
Sometimes youll encounter springs that restore a percentage of the entire partys HP, MP or Bond. Youll sometimes encounter some sort of vending machine of the citys items/weapons shop as well should you run low on supplies.
DOWNSIDE: Repetitive dungeon layout
7.) Battle System - The battle system of Conception II is turn-based yet unique. The party is divided into four groups. The hero and heroine are in one and the other three are comprised of star children [three per group]. However, only one turn is allowed per group. Combinations of star children are limitless and its great that the game gives you the freedom to experiment.
Enemies can be seen roaming around the dungeons and battles can be initiated by touching purple (normal), red (strong) or gold (quest) ones. Blue enemies are weak and they die upon contact with you. It saves a lot of time and youll still get the experience theyre worth (no item drops) so youll often see your family leveling up outside of battle.
In the battle mode proper, every enemy has a weak spot [usually their backs] and you can do major damage by hitting them there. Proper positioning per round is key. Yes, youve killed the critter in front of the enemy line but you forgot about the one ready to cast its spells on your butt. As the game progressed, I noticed that the monsters got shockingly stronger and I found myself near-death even if Im already at Lv32 during the 3rd chapter.
You seriously dont want to end up in a red-colored enemys line of sight so plan your moves well. If youre brave and you decide to attack from parts of the floor that say Caution, youll fill and activate the chain meter. It will hold enemies in place and you can do combos that will add bonus experience and glow (gold) to your rewards.
You can also answer incoming calls from heroines during battle (and lose your turn) or while running around the dungeon. Picking up increases their intimacy.
DOWNSIDE: 3 star children = 1 unit = group HP/MP depletion (ex. 1.) An enemy attacks 1 star children unit and they all receive 200 damage, 2.) A unit that has a mage (1000MP) with a cleric (500MP) and a swordis (300MP). If the swordis uses a skill worth 250MP, the MP of both the mage and cleric will pay the same MP cost even if it isnt their skill).
8.) Sound - The jRock number(s) are awesome!
DOWNSIDE: Voice-acting was done. Theyre limited and thats the reason why theyre repetitive. Also, some of the BGM are dungeon-specific and they really need some getting used to.
OVERALL: I definitely am recommending this game to all RPG enthusiasts out there especially the ones who are O.C. and love dungeon-crawling jRPGs. Its like a mixture of Persona and Thousand ARMs with A LOT of things to do. Youll enjoy this game and youll definitely get your moneys worth.
*****Get the special edition that comes with the CD containing the OST so you can enjoy the full-length version of your favorite tracks.
Product Release: Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars (Collector's Edition) (US, 04/15/14)
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