Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is a dating sim, dungeon exploring, baby-making RPG spectacular! The question however resides, is it any good? Conception II is brought to you by Atlus and made by an increasingly interesting developer, Spike Chunsoft.
Conception brings you into the world where monsters run rampant due to the evil emotions residing in the hearts of man, providing dusk energy to open up these labyrinths and abominations of mankind to hunt and kill humans.
The hero of this title receives a branding on his hand which represents his inheritance of power given by the divine Star God to battle these Dusk monsters. Only younger humans will inherit this brand, and they will lose it later in age. When the brand is received, they’re taken to the Academy to be evaluated and ranked based on how much Ether they have, and finally are sent into battle.
The hero is a special human that has extremely high levels of ether. This ether can be used in conjunction with other S rank Females to conceive a Star Child within a device called a Matroshyka. The process is entailed in the provocative “classmating” ritual, after which the Star Children can be taken to battle and also sent away to fortify and continue your legacy as the father of hundreds of Star Children.
Conception takes influences from a several games but a game that would scream to any JRPG fan would be its strong influence from the Persona 3 and 4 titles. The game does provide new ideas into the mix with other elements in story, mood, relationships, and a battle system that do project itself outside of that realm. So let’s take a deeper look into the make-up of this title.
To start with, the story in itself wasn’t strong in the beginning. Being an avid JRPG player, you start to feel the tropes of a common Japanese style game come into play when you start out comparing the personality of the hero to the environment that he is within.
The eyes roll around when beginning to read the plot of the game and the silly boob-jiggling, but that all begins to change when you bring the lovely S-Rank ladies into play. To say outright, the strongest part of this game is your interaction with all the women within the game.
Without any of the sexual connotations that the game throws out, the personalities of the women vary quite a bit and are actually extremely enjoyable. Their background and temperament helps you delve deeper into their stories and have it correlate into your main character’s life.
The further into the game, the stronger the bond you have with these women are, which in a title like this is quintessential and thus performs just that. When talking to the ladies within the game, you are brought into first person view, seeing these beautifully rendered 3D models walk and talk to you having decently natural conversations – which could also feel unnatural to some.
You are normally given 3 choices which help elevate or reduce the moods of your partner; this correlates to the strength of the Star Children you would conceive with the partner so make her happy. Always remember – Happy Wife, Happy Life, Happy Star Children.
You can also present a gift to the women that can sometimes spark interesting yet funny tidbits depending on how sadistic the player can be. A good chunk of the gifts can actually become equipped for the ladies to change their look, which is a pretty nice addition to the already robust customization. As I previously said, the bonding between the class mates is what sells this title very well and they present that part quite beautifully and naturally.
There is also a mini-game of sorts where you rub an S-Rank in different areas to progress through a certain situation on a date. There are always two-sides of an argument when it comes to things like this but in general I support a developer’s choice in ways of portraying sexuality – whether or not they wish to do an outlandish design choice in which they portray it.
There are demographics and markets that are aimed. There will always be a good and bad side of it, but as one who has worked on art and games, I would never lower a score because of views on sexuality in gaming and be inadvertently angry at a developer for something like that. However, if you bought a game called Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars I would imagine the consumer would understand where the game would take them.
Stretching the importance of happy classmates leads to the second most interesting concept which is Classmating. This process is what creates your Star children to take into battle. These children are conceived in a Russian Matroyshka which is a bit out there but nonetheless, based on your Mate’s affinity, stats and shear luck leads to creating a star child randomized as male or female.
This also unlocks particular classes that you are able to give them such as a mercenary, berserker, archer, etc. Each child based of their mother’s status, while Mood and Story progression gives a max cap to the children levels, while early game children cap at level 16-20.
The reason behind this system is so you can make your children independent, and when they’re on their own at the academy they can build up the city level, which in turn levels up shops, churches, training facilities, etc. Doing this in conjunction with the story will allow you to create more powerful children later on.
This is a bit of a double-edged sword as it does give a little sense of micromanagement within the title still keeping it fresh. The downside, however, is that you don’t really gain any emotional attachment with your children; it adds a bit of extra awkwardness when they throw the words “mama” and “papa” around as you are seeing small children killing monsters and then basically kicking them out of your party.
Now onto one of the weakest parts of the title – the dungeons and battle system. To give it more fair justice, the battle system isn’t extremely weak but a lot of the functions thrown into it seemed more unnecessary than fun and engaging. Battles are fought in a big space with turn-based controls. The children can form teams to create unique skills and balance or empower strengths and weaknesses. These three 3-man teams and 2-man teams with the main character can be attacked, or they can attack at different angles by encircling an enemy to find weak spots and basically gang up.
The space seemed unnecessary as any of your teammates can move and attack an enemy at any angle. It gives more of a disadvantage to the enemies as sometimes they may have to take a turn to make a move. It would be more simplistic to just do basic turn-based battles, rather then worry about enemy movements as it doesn’t give players a need for thorough strategy instead of just ganging up on your enemies. They do add Chain Breaks and Ether speed to add more dynamics into the battle but its something that is easily permissible, it helps out in battle but isn’t vital which weakens the integrity of the battle system.
Special moves for characters are normally pretty undefinable as most look just like a normal attack, however, one of the fun and cool features Spike Chunsoft put in was the ability to have your 3-man child team form into a giant mech like creature that is determined by the team’s overall element at the cost of some Bonding points. Difficulty in the dungeons isn’t really too difficult. Where the challenge lies comes from repeating dungeons in the training facility at a harder difficulty but even so, the battle system engages itself to be more unnecessary then fun, challenging, and engaging.
The dungeons to me were mostly the weakest part of the package, the reason being comes from the layout of these labyrinths, which are very basic. While they are dungeons and all dungeons share a theme based off of evil human emotions, they all generally look similar – which is loud and bright. These layouts are heavily taken in design from many dungeon crawlers, but the Persona series was screaming out again which makes it difficult to not compare.
The game sports not so visually appealing and repeated tiled textures which also have a lack of variance, easily viewable animated 2D planes by the doors, and jarring feel of the tight corridors in conjunction with weird camera angles. This easily makes the dungeons are a bit of a bore to explore. Later in the dungeon road it gets to be a bit easier to take in with a few ground traps and dusk energy bonuses to find, but it is a burn that feels a bit slow in conjunction with the battle system.
Looking at the animation end with how the main character moved and even some of the S ranks moved, they felt unnatural in motion with the run cycles where they’d move awkwardly in conjunction to the speed of movement. A couple of fixes that some games adopted would be to add a depth of field within the dungeons to soften the repetitive construction, help break the monotony, and give a little bit more impetus to want to explore as its exciting not knowing where one will be heading, or to be surprised by an enemy.
The art in this game is fantastic, with its sci-fi fantasy and pop fusion of ideas, it touts a lot of energy and attitude to its design. Although it may be similar in Danganronpa and Persona’s aesthetic look in menu navigation, I will be more then happy for other titles to be influenced by its usage of colors.
As I said before, the date events with the S ranks are beautifully rendered. Story events that are done in 2D are nice, clean and active which is always a nice plus to 2D design where the characters are moving and breathing. This can be a bit over-exaggerated by the amount of movement and the boob jiggling. I can see it bothering a few people but luckily the effect wasn’t too strong on me to detract.
Navigating throughout the academy, menus, and library was pretty easy and nicely displayed which adds to the clean polished look this game can achieve. 3D and 2D models within the academy and story events are great but the biggest gripe in art would still have to be the dungeons, the level of detail in comparison is quite stark. Although the battle models for the characters are passable the whole dungeon aspect is easily the Achilles heel to what the game could truly achieve with a few tune-ups.
Music is also a pretty well done feature within the game. With very catchy tunes and some J-pop vocals featured within, it really does help add a great overall experience to the game. The voice acting can be a bit funny as the game does try to involve the main character’s voice where he will throw in a one liner in a weird area, but overall its a pretty decently done dub in comparison to some other titles.
As a closing note, I like this game quite a bit as it is a very solid JRPG, however, it really needs tuning up on the battle system and especially the dungeon exploring side. I would definitely suggest this title to people who are hardcore JRPG fans but newcomers to the JRPG family might be dissuaded by its weak dungeon exploring element.
It’s a great game full of brilliant ideas but falls a bit short in execution with its battle system and dungeon exploring mechanic, which are both a decent chunk of the game. If you can break through the monotony of those two parts especially in the first few dungeons, it gets easier to travel in them later on.
The game provides a rewarding relationship building story and interesting ideas for expanding the game. If there were to be a Conception III, the lessons learned from this title could truly bring out a dynamite RPG that can push even further the resurgence of great JRPG titles.