By Steve Baltimore / April 15th, 2014
|Title||Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars|
|Release Date||April 15, 2014|
|Age Rating||ESRB – Mature|
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is an RPG with some dating sim elements thrown into the mix. You assume the role of “God’s Gift,” a very special disciple that has an Ether count so high he can create a field for combat within a Dusk Circle. You are the only known person that can do this. I know what you’re thinking – what are Dusk Circles? Basically, they are the source of the monsters that are trying to destroy the world.
There are seven major Dusk Circles found in the world. Some of these will have sub-labyrinths to explore as well. Within each of these dust circles lies an immensely powerful Dust Spawner. You and seven heroines set out on a quest to eliminate them. Each are a boss of their own circle, and once defeated, the Dusk Circle will not produce any more monsters.
The world of Conception II functions through a simple menu that shows all the different facilities in the city. Initially the Academy, the Church, your Dorm and few other locations will be available. As the game progresses and you level up the city, more will unlock. Leveling up your city improves the facilities that are available. As the Shop levels up, it will gain more items, and the Guild will get more quests. The Church is where the ritual to birth Star Children takes place, and the Academy is where you meet up and spend time with the heroines to build your bonds. At the Dorm, you can save your game, edit your teams and make time pass. You can spend time with up to three of the heroines before you will need to rest to make time pass. This will not progress the story in any way, certain facilities that unlock later in the game will need time to pass for their services to be complete. Passing time this way is annoying, really, since you have seven different heroines that you can spend time with, and you have to do it multiple times to increase your bonds. So, you end up seeing three events, going back to the dorm, pass time, rinse and repeat a lot.
Visually, the game looks pretty good. The in-game character models all look nice. They might not be the prettiest things I’ve seen on the Vita, but they are far from the worst. The CG artwork during the event scenes with the girls is all very nicely done. It adds to the overall experience of the game. Unfortunately, the dungeon and labyrinths look really plain. If I were to compare them to something, I would say they look like Persona 3 or 4 dungeons. The bosses are large and all look very cool. The enemy models look nice, as well, but there aren’t quite enough of them.
As you work towards defeating all of the Dusk Spawners, you will spend time with the seven heroines. Yep, this is where the dating sim elements come into play. You will be given some dialogue choices, and you should try to pick the best one. Though, sometimes, it is funny just to see what happens when you say the entirely wrong thing. Choosing the correct dialogue will improve her mood a bit, and this is important when creating Star Children, as it will have an effect on their strength.
Due to me rushing the game a bit to get this review out on time, I only spent time with five of the ladies. I found all of their stories really quite interesting, and it was a lot of fun getting to know them. This is the trademark of a good dating sim. The stories were so well told, in fact, that you will likely begin caring about the girls very early in the game. The last thing I need to mention about spending time with the heroines are the Touch Events. These rarely occur, but they do take place within the girls’ storylines. These are really simple events where you rub the screen where it tells you to on screen, but be sure to do it the right way or she might just get upset.
There is quite a bit of voiced dialog in the game. As always, Atlus has done an excellent job with their dubbing. The voices all fit the characters well and add to the overall experience. During cutscenes that are not fully voices, the protagonist and others will spit out random one liners. Some of these are can be quite hilariously placed. The theme music found within the game is catchy. You will find yourself humming along even after you finish playing. There are a few different battle themes that you will hear. These are upbeat and set the combat mood nicely. The sound effects are all basic, standard things you expect to hear as you attack or when you cast a spell.
As I said earlier, your protagonist has tons of Ether as “God’s Gift.” Female disciples have Star Energy, but no Ether. This is where classmating comes into play. Classmating is the ritual of combining Ether from the protagonist with the star energy of the heroines to make Star Children. These rituals take place at the Church, and, much like the champagne room, there is no sex here. Star Children are born in Matryoshka Dolls, and a basic one will always be available. There are other types of Matryoshkas that you can find, that will give a Star Child a certain attribute or boost certain stats. Classmating requires bond points or BP, which is gained through spending time with the girls.
You will notice that each Star Child has a maximum level they can reach. As your bonds through spending time with the girls become stronger, the maximum level, and basic stats increase. To start with, the classes available to you will be limited. As you increase your bond with the girls you will unlock more. You may ask yourself, “What do I do with these maxed leveled children?” Well, this is how you level up your city. Via the menu in the Dorm, you can make them become independent. You had them, raised them and now you’re sending them off into the world. They grow up so fast! Anyway, the higher the level the child you send out, the greater the boost to your city’s level.
Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s talk about the dungeon crawling. As I mentioned before, you will enter dungeons called Dusk Circles. These are randomly-generated labyrinths filled with monsters. You will notice the on-screen map is located at the bottom left of the screen. This map will show you the location of the doors, as well as enemies in the rooms you have been in. You can change the position of this map by pressing the Square button. You can also position the camera any way you would like via the second analog stick. Players of Persona 4 Golden will feel right at home with this. As you move around the dungeon, enemies will appear on-screen. Touching an enemy will initiate combat, but, if you touch them on the back without them noticing you, this will give you an advantage. They will look a bit different depending on their strength. If you are way over the level of the enemy, it will be instantly killed if you touch it, but you will still get some experience and Glow (money).
Other things you will find around the dungeon include treasure chests. Some of these will be trapped with various effects such as damage or locking you in the room until all the enemies are defeated. You may also step on a trap on the dungeon floor. These usually cause you a bit of damage, but they can do various other things like warp you to next floor. Lastly, you may encounter a locked door in your travels. If your Star Children are leveled high enough, they can unlock these.
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