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Conception II (PS Vita) review

On June 1, 2014 by Aaron Meehan

Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a game that I really wanted to enjoy, but after a few hours my enjoyment disappeared as the game began to feel like a slog. The main reason for the game feeling like a slog is the fact the game drags on for too long and constantly throws out additional content.

At first glance Conception II is a rather unique looking game that combines your standard turn based dungeon crawler with a dating sim. In Conception II you play as nameless male high school student who is revealed to be God’s Gift, a disciple of the Star God that has a massive amount of ether, after travelling to Fort City, an island city where those who posses “The Brand of the Star God” go to become disciples to fight monsters and study. With his large amount of ether he can fight the monsters that ravage the world in their own home, the dusk circles. To fight them you have to team up with seven elite high school girls, create star children together, destroy all the dusk circles and save the world. While the big challenge is destroying the circles you also have to make sure all seven girls love you via dating sim style conversations.

welcome-to-the-academy

In terms of story Conception II had a lot of potential especially when you see how AngelMaker, a large corporation, is slightly at odds with how the church is attempting to eliminate the seven dusk circles, which incidentally are named after the seven deadly sins. As the story progresses AngelMaker creates an artificial way for men that don’t have God’s Gifts powers to fight in the dusk circles, with this new power AngelMaker intend to destroy the circles themselves or go evil trying. I know what I just said might seem like a spoiler, but it was made obvious to the point where I really hope it wasn’t an intended plot twist. Apart from this push by AngelMaker, which mostly plays out in the background there is no real story and no major monster villain apart from a boss fight at the end of a dusk circle. Even the character stories are weak with all but one main character, Fuuko, getting a half way decent story that deals with the fact that something is holding her back from becoming more powerful then she is and also a ghost is involved, and with all that even her story is very easy to solve.

If you are hoping for an engaging story you have come to the wrong place as the story is just used to connect you from one dusk circle to the next. The funny thing is if the game was shorter I wouldn’t have minded the bad plot twists as much, but unfortunately the game is about 40-60 hours long.

Starchild

As I mentioned earlier one key part of the game is creating star children with the seven girls. Creating star children is necessary to completing the game as the star children fight alongside you when you enter a dusk circle. For some this feature might turn you off the game as it is the main reason why you have to treat Conception II more like a dating sim than a dungeon crawler. To create star children you must go through a process call classmating, which sounds exactly like you might expect it to be. You basically have to pick one of the seven girls go to church, touch each other and create a star child. When the star child is born you can select what class it will be, and honestly I was surprised to see how many classes were on offer. Star Child classes include: swords, archer, magician, warlock, cleric, gunslinger and many more. During classmating there is a chance that twins can be born, this possibility is indicated by a twin symbol beside the girl you picked. As you get further into the game tri-mating is introduced, this allows you to classmate with two girls at once. If you are looking for a particular class tri-mating to go because during normal classmating some classes are greyed out as the girl you pick might not be able to create a star child with that specific class ability, but tri-mating appears to unlock all the classes.

Now if creating star children wasn’t important enough, you have to have all seven high school aged girls like you (well technically six since one is a teacher, but she looks like a high school student so it isn’t as creepy as it sounds). This is by far the easiest and consequently the most boring part of the game. The point of building a relationship which each girl is to make sure their mood/intimacy bar is as high as possible so that you can have powerful star children together. To increase this bar you just simply have to talk to them and give them an answer to a question, which suits their character. For example: Serina is a small looking third year student who hates being judged by her size and also dislikes cocky students, so when answering her questions you have to pick one that shows you respect her. To make this even easier a lot of the questions you have to answer repeat and the game remembers the last answer you gave, so if you gave the correct answer the first time, you can just click on the same one again.

There however some factors that drag this relationship feature out. The first is the fact that you can only progress your relationship so far during any one chapter, so to advance your relationship you need to continue onto the next chapter of the story, and the second is you can only talk to three girls at a time and if you want to talk to more you have to go to your dorm, rest and go back to the city’s academy where the girls are located.

I would say the romance is decent, but while some conversations feel genuinely romantic others feel like they were ripped from a poor romance novel.

Narika

The characters in Conception II have a wide array of character types/traits from a tsundere loli to an overly eager R&D chief. This wide array of types is both interesting and bad, on the interesting side it is good to see how different types of people handle certain situations, but on the bad side the game doesn’t execute it as well as it thinks it does. Attempts to give characters any form of characterisation for the most part falls flat on its face. The worst offender for this is the main character who might as well be a lead in a harem anime, as he is devoid of nearly all emotion even though the seven girls all want to get close to him. The seven girls are equally as bad as the developers decided to fill as many harem tropes as possible, there is the ditzy character, the big breasted character, a loli, a prideful tsundere, older women and your normal looking girl who had a past tragedy etc. The supporting characters also fall into tropes with Chlotz – your best friend who is jealous of the fact you have the girls going after you and Alec – your inadvertent rival.

If you like harem anime than you will like the characters in Conception II, but if you are going in hoping to see well developed and interesting characters than you will be extremely disappointed.

I don’t know what is with me and this game, I wanted to enjoy it, but nothing seemed to gel with me. For example I had hoped that the dungeon aspect of the game would be the main focus of the game, but after playing for a few hours I realized the dungeons are just there as an overly long stop. I don’t use the words overly long stop gap without reason as each dungeon or as they are called in-game labyrinths (areas created inside Dusk Circles) go on for way to long. The early dungeons have a good length to them, but as you get further and further into the game the dungeons are made longer and longer for next to reason, except maybe to pad out what is the only half decent part of the game i.e. the combat. The length of the dungeons is also reinforced by the fact that there are so many doors with only one the right way and the rest leading to dead ends, while yes this makes sense cause you essentially in a labyrinth I found myself going down about 2-3 rooms only to find that chose the wrong path and then turn around refight the monsters that respawned and hope the next door I pick will be the right way. I’m all for a little bit of challenge when trying to clear an area, but going through the dungeons was almost as painful as listening to some of the conversations in the romance section of the game.

conception-ss-7

Combat is arguably the best part of this game as it is a simple and easy to understand turn-based system. In combat you have four teams, three teams consisting of three star children and one team featuring the main character and the girl you decided to bring into the dungeon with you. When in combat your turn to attack is determined by your teams and enemies speed. While this is very much a standard setup for a lot of turn-based games now, the game has you select which direction you attack a monster from, while that might sound weird selecting the direction you attack from is key as the enemies you face usually have one weak spot which if hit will cause you to do more damage than normal. While this makes combat sound simple there is a tactical element to this as only one group of star children can occupy a space at a time, the main characters can stand in the same space as their star children, so having the group that can do the most damage standing in the area where he can do the most damage is key.

While the directional area aspect of combat is interesting it is let down by one major problem, skill attacks. Skill attacks are special attacks that consume different levels of mana, some of these attacks aren’t powerful, but some star children and the God’s Gift have skills so powerful they can one shot your basic monster, mini-bosses and in some cases bosses to. While you might imagine such attacks take up large amounts of mana, a lot of them take up about a 1/3 or less of your mana pool, so you can spam them if you want. When you expend all your mana from skill spamming there is no need to worry as the game has tripping over mana regeneration items. These items along with health regeneration items litter dungeons, but if you can’t find enough in a dungeon you can always just buy them on the cheap at the Fort City shop.

DLC2

While crawling through dungeons and getting romantic with high school girls are the main features of the game, there is an additional feature in the form of levelling Fort City. Levelling the city is straight forward; to increase the cities level you need to let you star children go independent. Letting your children go is pretty straight forward, just click there name and hit independent, when they go independent they leave the team they are on and as such you must replace them by having another star child. While this doesn’t sound particularly fun, levelling up the city unlocks new content such as quests, a gift store, a day camp that will train your unused star child, and a scavenger that will find items for you.

While the city levelling isn’t exactly appealing I like the idea of it. It gives meaning to a lot of the features in the game for example, if the star children you create at the start of the game didn’t have a low level cap there would be no reason to let them go and create new ones. It also gives another feeling of progression as you can see the world physically change because of your actions and as such gives a feeling of accomplishment.

In terms of graphics Conception II is average for a Vita title. The world is nice to look at with nice background images and interestingly designed dungeons, but what I didn’t like about the graphics was conversations were handled. For conversations they basically did two styles: 1) the normal 2D style of character you see in nearly every game with visual novel style conversations and 2) a full 3D character with some movement staring at you during a conversation, which can be a bit annoying as the characters in these conversations feel out of place off putting.

When it comes to sound I will talk about the voice work. The voice acting to me isn’t half bad. Sure some characters sound weird, but their voices seem to match their personality. For example Torri who doesn’t have much knowledge of what we would call basic etiquette has soft sounding voice that helps enforce the above fact and how she wishes to learn.

fuuko

Conclusion

SCORE: 6/10

Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a game that is too long for its own good, as a lot of the game is padded out with overly long dungeons and repetitive romance sections. However, the game’s combat does require a degree of skill and concentration.

Pros/Cons

+ Combat requires a degree of tactics
+ Levelling the city is important and drives you to use some of the game’s other core features

+/- Decent attempt at combining a dating sim with a dungeon crawler
+/- Romance elements aren’t terrible, but they are repetitive

– Game drags on
– Characters aren’t well developed
– Story is predicable
– Dungeons are far longer than they need to be

Developer Publisher Genre Rating Platform Time played Release date
Spike Chunsoft Atlus RPG 16 PS Vita (reviewed), 3DS 40-60 hours May 14 (PS VIta), May 15 (3DS)

For more information on Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, visit http://www.atlus.com/conception2/.

Author: Aaron Meehan

Hi, I’m the creator of SG Gaming Info. When I’m not working on my writing or creating content for this site’s YouTube channel, I like to relax and enjoy character driven story games.


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