Title: Conception II: Children of the Stars Review
Genre: RPG (with some dating sim and city building elements)
Platform: 3DS or PSVita / PSTV
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Language: English (text and voice acting) (or you can import the Japanese original game with Japanese text and Japanese audio)
Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”
Story: 7/10 The story follows the life of young “students” who have been chosen by god and granted magic powers in order to fight monsters in dungeons known as dusk circles. These circles began appearing all around the world, with each representing a different sin; for example, the first dungeon is based on the theme of Lust. Students who are chosen, are always between the ages of 16-18 and receive a glowing brand on their body (typically their hand, but some characters have them on the forehead etc). Once this brand appears they must join a special academy and learn how to use their new abilities. The story follows a group of new students who are just discovering their powers. It also is rich in lore and history, and you can uncover more about the dusk circles and the monsters as you progress through the game, why they exist, where they come from, etc. It’s futuristic, dark, and scifi, with some religious overtones; however, the story never sseems to take itself too seriously; with several ecchi (perverted) jokes, I think the humor is a bit over the top, and some of the cliches over-used, which can distract from the story.
Gameplay: 10/10 In addition to exploring the dungeons, you are also able to partake in dating and after school activities, similar to the Persona series (another Atlus title). This almost feels like it could be another Persona game in a lot of ways to me. The main difference is that, instead of using personas in battle, you use an ability called Class Mating. Class Mating occurs by selecting a female team member and joining her in the church to create “star children”. These children have various classes, such as swordsman, magician, cleric, etc, and their stats, skills, and even appearance, depend on which female you’ve chosen, and the bonds that you’ve formed with her through the dating aspect of the game.
Star children always must be used in groups of 3. If you have 5 star children, you can only use three of them; but if you have 6 star children, you can use all 6. You can use up to 9 star children at any time,by following this rule of 3’s. The star children receive a boost within the dungeon by bringing their mother with you. Which brings us to the next point…
Each time you enter a dungeon you can select one female team member to join you. Each female has a different element attribute, and you will have the best success by choosing a female who’s element is strong to the element of the dungeon (which is displayed before entering the area). As mentioned above; if any of the female’s star children are in your group; those star children will receive a nice bonus as well.
There’s a lot of things to do, a lot of skills and abilities to use in combat, including chain and combo attacks; and a lot of fun things to do outside of combat too. In addition to the dating sim portion of the game, there’s also a city building simulation aspect. Once you run out of space for or get tired of your star children, you can “grant them their independence” which removes them as a playable character, but you will find them working in new shops that open up in town, and the town will grow and offer new items for purchase, and new events may be unlocked, etc. It’s a very fun game. Both the combat portions, and the city and dating sim portions feel very well fleshed out. And there are multiple endings which really increases replay value.
Concept: 8/10 I think that the classmating aspect is really original, and I love that the game offers so much to do outside of combat too; however; it does feel, more or less, like a Persona “clone”. Persona is one of my favorite series, so nothing wrong with that really. Although for originality; if you removed the classmating aspect, it would not be very original at all. Also, the combat feels too easy early on, and the story is sometimes bogged down by too much ecchi and humor and not enough suspense and maturity. Still it’s an amazing concept, and everything is well done without any aspect of the game feeling lacking.
Characters: 9/10 I really like the characters in this game; as always in a dating sim style game, the main character is a bit of a blank slate so that you can “plug yourself into the game” and immerse yourself as that character. The females and the teachers and friends and rivals in the game all feel really well fleshed out. I appreciate very “real” characters who have flaws and secrets that they hide, which are slowly revealed, etc. I think the way they introduce the characters and the fact that you actually have to put in the time to learn more about them, etc; sorta simulates how we form real bonds and relationships; and that is a very unique thing in this game. It definitely makes me care more about the characters I’ve drawn closer to throughout the game.
Graphics: 10/10 The PSVita version looks fantastic on my PSTV / HDTV – I haven’t played the NDS version – I’ve heard mixed things regarding the frame-rate of that version. All of the girls are SOOO cuuuute. I don’t know which one is my favorite. There are anime cut-scenes, and some “magic girl” transformation scenes when entering combat and performing skills etc. These get old after a few times, so thankfully you can skip them whenever you want. Also your equipment is reflected in game, there’s costumes to collect and lots of ways to customize the physical appearance of your characters. The dungeons themselves are a bit, bland, and at least on my TV, they look sorta pixelated somewhat, same with some of the monster designs; but this is more than made up for with the beautiful characters and anime cut-scenes.
Music: 5/10 I dunno, the music is okay; but it’s kinda “jut there” – I wouldn’t say it’s bad; but it’s not really memorable either.
Voice Acting: 7/10 I’m surprised, I actually don’t hate this dub. I think it’s actually “pretty good” – for an English dub. But I did notice a LOT of recycled / can messages that play during the game. I’m disapointed in that. I wish it had full voice acting; if it did, I might have given it a 10/10 because the acting itself is actually not bad. But most of the times instead of the characters reading the lines you just hear them say “Okay” “Roger that” “No” “It’s Alright” etc. Only certain scenes have full voice acting; and the canned phrases can get a bit annoying because they use them so often.
Voice Acting: 7/10
Overall: 64/80 80% B- “Very Good Game For Girls”