Conception II: Children of the Stars is a sequel to Conception, a game that was never released in the U.S. It’s great to see that Atlus bringing all different kinds of IP’s to the West, since it shows there is at least some demand for Japanese RPG’s as Bravely Default showed us. Is Conception II a great example of what Western gamers have been missing?
Not exactly. The game tries to clearly take a lot from the excellent Persona series. It adds some dating-sim elements. With some rather refreshing twists in combat. Together they added up the bulk of what make up Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars.
The story stars off by you receiving your mark of the star god which means you get to go study at the academy. There you meet up with others who have been marked by the star god to combat the dusk circles, which are vortex’s that have sprung up around the world and spawn demonic like energies and creatures. It is the job the Academy to fight the dusk monsters and save the world. To be honest the story is pretty simple and while there are a few twist and turns it’s fairly flat and uninspiring. The typical you must “save the world from these monsters” story.
At times it really tries to be like a Persona title, but it simply doesn’t have the interesting characters and fully flushed out world and story to compete with the Persona series on so many levels. It’s also very difficult to care enough for about the story or the characters. A huge part of the game revolves around “classmating” with ladies in your class to create Star Children, who are like Persona’s, but instead they birthed by the “classmating ritual”.
Another thing becomes very apparent, Conception II has a TON of sexual innuendos, flying at you non-stop. From jiggling boobs to walking around in dungeons seeing….jiggling boobs. It can all get rather distracting and seem almost rather not serious at times, but oh it is. Classmating in is self is fairly tamed, all you do is hold hands and have a some of sort of sexual mental orgasm with the girl you are class mating, and you can pick and choose to create star children.
This is actually really great as you can pick from many different classes, and each girl is will have different traits for different star children. However, you have to convince the girls in your class through picking very limited and often convoluted choices to get her to agree to classmate with you, which will in turn breed stronger star children. The idea is interesting, but not well executed at all. This is the dating-sim aspect to the game, that I’ve seen better in other games.
When you go into the various dusk circles that have spawn around the world this is where the dungeon exploring aspect of the game begins. The dungeons are very boring and pretty much all boxed shaped empty rooms where you go and open doors and find…even more box shaped rooms with a random monster just relaxing in there.
This aspect of the game really needs to be overhauled as the environments are all pretty much the same except for different colors boxed rooms. When you are not in dungeons and fighting monsters inside the dusk circles, the city-hub screen severs as your interface to talk with your friends, the girls, or upgrade your star children. Unlike the other male characters in the game, the female characters in the game are important because better bond you build with them, the better star children you can create. This is where Conception II: Children of the Stars turns into a dating-sim, but a very easy one at that. Depending on how you react to what she says she will like you or dislike, you also have to touch her in certain…places when the mood is right. I did not find this system very comprehensive and rather simplistic, on top of just plan too easy.
Another problem I see this aspect of the game is with the city-hub screen itself; it is to bland and boring that something has to be said about it. This aspect of the game could have had more effort put into it as gone into as you will be staring at it a lot. Why not have it so your character could actually move around freely and interact with everyone. It just screams laziness having a 2D image of the city from a bird eye view be marked by the “EVENT” symbol suggesting what you should do.
When you enter combat you will find yourself in a pretty typical JRPG combat system, nothing was all that different, except that your star children are consider one unit attacking while your heroine and protagonist are another.
An interesting mechanic was the 360 degree combat mechanic in which you would try to defend or attack enemies for extra damage opportunities. You are also able to chain enemies down which decreases their speed and allow you to attack head of your enemies. This was pretty cool and unique, something I enjoy and made combat less predictable.
I guess my main problem with Conception II is that it doesn’t do anything consistently well. Not even the dialogue sequences which consist of avatars staying still, slightly jiggling back and forth and if it’s a female, then you guessed it boobs jiggling. The voice acting is borderline terrible, but not the worse I’ve heard, and you cannot switch it to Japanese, which will disappointment people who generally play these kinds of games, in Japanese.
Overall, there is not much to say about Conception II: Children of the Stars other than its unique and very strong sexual innuendos are constantly in the game reminding you the sexuality that underlines this game. It’s all done fairly harmless, but it can be a tad bit sexist at times, girls will just fall in love with you for no reason, and the whole dating aspect to game can range from being just too easy to extremely sexualized, when you have to touch girls in right places.
It does poke fun at itself though, and in all fairness does show teenage sexuality in a fairly realistic way minus the points I just made. Not everyone, will like Conception II: Children of the Stars, but if you like are a die-hard JRPG fan, you will like this one, although there is not much new in terms of ideas.
This review is based on a digital copy of Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars for the PlayStation 3 which was provided by Atlus.