REVIEW: Conception II

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

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Conception 2 | Monokuma Kill

Some enemies are more satisfying to kill than others.

Some of the frustration comes with not always being able to choose the class you want, but the largest frustration comes with the level caps for your Star Children. The children’s level cap when you give birth to them is a combination of the Protagonist level, the Heroine level, and their bond strength. Once the Star Child reaches that level cap, they cannot grow any more so you have to give them Independence. One exception is the very rare Star Child that is born with a star symbol (like you see above), as they are born right away with the ability to go to Level 99. The good thing is that they often give you stat increasing items when you grant them Independence (you can only use those items up to an arbitrary limit though), and they also increase the level of the surrounding town, making shops sell better items and unlocking new side quests.

The bad thing is that you have to create a new child to replace them, and that new child will inevitably have a higher level cap, but will start out at level 1. There is a service in the 2nd half of the game that will give some kids a fraction of the XP that you are earning in the dungeon while they wait in town. However, it is very expensive, only allows for up to 3 kids at a time, and they can only level up a maximum of 5 levels per trip. Mostly you will just have to grind you way through the lower dungeons when you have to replace your kids until they are back up to speed enough to tackle your current content. This does add a ton of non-story time and grinding to your gameplay. It’s not something I particularly mind, since I’m an old school gamer that loves grinding, but not everyone will feel the same. The heroines are also slowly added to your team, but they do not have levels that scale with what your current level, so by the time I get Feene, I’m usually about 30 levels higher than she is. So you will be grinding no matter what, really.

Conception 2 | Chain Attacks

Chain Attacks become more necessary as the game nears the end.

In general you will want to enter a dungeon with a Heroine and children that match. You can only bring one of your girls with you, and then you can have up to 3 groups of 3 Star Children. It’s usually best to have their mother with them because the closer the bonds are between the different groups, the more often they will assist each other with attacking or defense. And when the hero and heroine group helps out, that’s the most powerful assist you can generally have. Combat itself is where this game really separates itself the most from the Persona influence.

Conception 2 | Battle Form

All of their battle suits are pretty nice, but especially my waifu.

Enemies have four regions around themselves that they can attack to, or be attacked from. Your children cannot occupy one of those regions in more than one group, but the hero/heroine group can stack on top of any Star Child group. Attacking an enemy at their weak region does more damage and very often can cause a critical hit. Attacking in other regions raises your Chain Drive gauge, though. If the Chain Drive gauge reaches a certain level (seen above), you can chain that enemy in place and drastically reduce their action time. Not only will your characters do more damage during this time, but you will also gain better rewards after the battle is complete. For most of the game you will want to just focus on attacking the weak points and finishing the battles quickly, but later on you will want to make more use of the chain stunning.

Conception 2 | Dungeon Diving

I receive enough loot from dungeon diving that I almost never need to purchase it.

Because of the positioning concern, and the flows of the battle, they are generally longer than the Persona game battles. But one nice addition is that if an enemy is significantly below the average level of your group, the hero will just automatically destroy them, but you will automatically gain all the XP and money that you would have gained from that battle. The only thing you won’t gain from it is any item drops. However, most of the items you will receive from a dungeon are generally found in treasure boxes anyway. The dungeons are actually full of treasure, much more so than most RPGs, and especially the optional side dungeons. That alone is good reason to keep on going back to them for a good grind. I almost never have to shop for any goods in this game, instead being able to spend the gold on stat upgrade items or special gifts for the heroines (which they can then wear in the dungeons). One great aspect of all that loot is that you get enough healing items that you actually don’t always need to bring a healer with you in your group, and enough Mana Stones that you can actually be rather liberal with your ability uses, even in some of the very long later dungeons.

Conception 2 | Dark Times

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

But, much like the story itself, dungeon diving is not all sunshine and rainbows. Some of the traps are rather frustrating (like the one that teleports you to the next level right when you are closing in on a quest monster), but they are avoidable with the right Star Child class. But mostly it just gets a bit monotonous to have the same bland environment for a couple hours. The dungeons are all randomly generated (again, like Persona games), but there are sadly few variations of any particular room type. You will rapidly notice that rooms are always separated by a hallway and certain other common characteristics. Thankfully it is very easy to warp out of the dungeon and then come back to the same level you left at. This is a nice ability for if you get into trouble or if you are just getting tired of the grind and want to take a break. That is not the only criticism either, the other major one I have is with the translation.

Conception 2 | Translation

Even if not always a great translation, there are some strong highlights.

The written translation is okay but not great. There are a lot of spelling and grammar issues that would have benefited from some better editing. But that is not as much of a concern as the voice acting. I actually don’t really like the English cast very much, it seems like most of them were very uninterested in the project. Also many of the minor vocal ticks, in other words when they don’t want to voice an entire line so they just use a small vocal response to represent a mood conveyed, can get rather annoying. In general I enjoy playing these types of games in Japanese anyway, but this one just has a larger difference in quality from most others. This game does have one serious disadvantage to doing so, however, that was carried over from the PS Vita release (and probably the 3DS, but I only own the one). That disadvantage to playing in Japanese is that none of the animated scenes are subtitled. So they will speak in Japanese but you will not know what they are saying unless you also speak the language. The animated sections are fairly few, though, so it’s not enough for me to turn back on the English.

Conception 2 | Feene Classmating

Feene and I have great Classmating chemistry.

Unlike the English voice acting, the Japanese is very high quality. Almost as high of quality though is the music. It’s not quite up there with the Persona games, but there are no games that are quite up to that level, in my opinion. But they knew that if they were going to be inspired by that series, they really needed to bring it. Even when the music is cheesy, like for the Classmating scene above, it’s campy in the fun way. They also use a lot of English words in their music, so you can understand how silly they are being. Of course the biggest highlight, other than mating with the girl of your choice, is that art design. They can sell me on a Conception III with keeping the same art style alone. It’s strongly anime in style, but it has enough of it’s own personality to make this one really pop off the screen. And the CG scenes are slightly animated, although there is no real mouth movement for words, only expressions.

Really all around you can tell that there was a lot of love put into this product. And it’s a very long game that will easily take you 40-60 hours to beat it your first time. Then there is the replay value of choosing a different girl to end up attached to with a New Game+ run. They even allow you to choose at what point you want to start your New Game+, a really welcome addition. Really the overall story hardly changes at all with a different girl, but there are enough exclusive scenes to discover to make it worthwhile to most hardcore RPG fans. I’ve seen both Narika and Feene’s final scenes, and would like to go back and see the other 5. For me this game was worth the full price on PS Vita, so having it available now on Steam for $19.99 is a great deal. And now that you can see all this Classmating action on a larger screen, your waifu will look even more amazing.

Review Score

Review Copy Provided By The Developer

About William Haderlie

Born in the 1970's, I've been an avid participant for much of video game history. A lifetime of being the sort of supergeek entrenched in the sciences and mathematics has not curbed my appreciation for the artistry of video games, cinema, and especially literature.

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