Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars Review
Japan tends to see more of the quirkier titles than any other county out there. One example would be Conception: Ore no Kodomo o Undekure! (or translated to Conception: Please Give Birth to My Child!). With a name like that, it was a surprise to learn that ATLUS was bringing Spike Chunsoft’s sequel, Conception 2: Children of the Seven Stars, to countries outside of Japan. While the name does give you a small clue about one of the components behind the game, it’s not done quite how you’d imagine. Could creating children to help your character in his goal to eradicate the perils of Dusk Circles be just some flash-in-the-pan gimmick, or does it give Conception 2 that edge to be a must-play for either the PlayStation Vita or Nintendo 3DS?
You play as Wake Archus, a teenage boy who not only has the tragic backstory of losing his sister on her wedding day to a bunch of demons, but also bears the mark of the Star God on his hand. As he joins up with two fellow disciples on their way to the Academy, they get their first taste of fighting the monsters threatening the world as well as learning just what rank they are. Luckily for Wake, he is proven to be God’s Gift. Being God’s Gift nets Wake the ability to be classmates with the top seven female students as well as the chance to explore the dusk circles to seal the dangerous enemies lurking inside.
The story is your typical “save the world from evil” plot. You get to team up with a varied cast of characters and work towards sealing dusk circles so that no monsters can spawn and wreck havoc in the world. I don’t feel like the story is ground-breaking, but it does have its funny moments. Of course, there are also some groan-inducing moments in which subtle innuendos aren’t so subtle. Nearly every time Wake has to communicate with a certain older male, I cringe and hope that the man is not going to comment on how “developed” the female disciples are this year. Even the female classmates will take to talking about things such as their breasts. While I have no problem with the occasional remark or comment, I felt as if the game went overboard at times.
As I’m sure anyone who has played Conception 2 will point out, there are some similarities to the Persona series. Both are set within a school setting and have a dating sim feature incorporated as well as other gameplay mechanics. But those who are expecting this to be a sort of handheld Persona clone will be disappointed. Though the similarities are there, Conception 2 does not feel like it could be even a spin-off for the Persona series.
Tutorials and guides help you get a better understanding on the mechanics of Conception 2 in the beginning of the game and you can always revisit them via the menu. The battle system is handled via a turn-based setup. Including the main character and heroine of choice, you can have a total of eleven party members on the field. You might think that this would make the actual battles seem cluttered but with the way teams are set up, it works out fairly easy. The star children that you create can be placed in a team of three. If you don’t have enough star children to fill out a team, you cannot create a team until you do.
Which brings us to the star child creation process, a feature that I have mixed feelings on. I enjoyed working on building up the relationships with each female classmate and thought it was great for each to follow their own storyline that still tied into the main one (though some more loosely than others). You are given a limited number of actions to use per day, so to say, which means you have to choose which girl you want to talk to. And you cannot use all the actions on the same girl. During these sometimes short “dates,” you can occasionally choose a response that will have a positive or negative effect. You can even give them little gifts that range from items like curry to equippable accessories like a tiara (which are only seen during the “dates” when equipped). The dates provide more function than just boosting a girl’s affection for you. They also fill up your BP, or bonding points. BP is needed to create new star children. Stats and max level for created star children are based on the affection level and current level of the female classmate used. However, it is possible to create a Genius star child that has some slightly higher than usual stats as well as the ability to level up to 99. But don’t make plans of creating nothing but Genius children, as they are quite rare. Another rare occurrence is the chance of producing twins, or even triplets.
Now on to the part of classmating that I feel will put off a few potential players, the animation sequence during the ritual appears to be pretty sexual. Though no actual nudity is shown, Spike Chunsoft pushes it with using 3D outlines of the female classmates that show off the curves and breast sizes in positions that range from not-so-risque to quite obvious sexual positions. Luckily, you can skip these scenes with a press of the button. In a day and age where it is shown that “sex sells,” I cannot help but feel that just maybe, we could do without being so suggestive.
Exploring the dungeons is pretty straightforward. Every time you enter one, the floor layouts change randomly. Despite this, the rooms can feel a tad repetitive. Even the enemies you come across spawn in just about every dungeon you visit. It appears that only the bosses in the main story dungeons are unique. A quick glance at the database menu for enemies show that there are quite a number of different monsters, though each species has a couple of recolored “relatives.” The difficulty level starts off fairly easy, especially if you nabbed the free DLC offered, but does experience a slight increase towards the end of the game. I spent a good deal of the regular encounters with the auto-battle setting turned on, but still needed to control the actions of my party for some of the later boss fights. Once your levels get higher and you go through some of the first dungeons accessible to you, monsters that appear on the floor can be taken out just by running into them. Monsters litter the dungeon floors and their threat level can be determined by the shape and color of the odd-looking shadowy figures. The darker, more simple looking monsters are low threats while the more brighter red shaded ones can pose a threat if you’re not prepared. Yellow ones are quite helpful as they signify a quest monster.
As you progress through the story, you will unlock different quests to take on. They can range from anything like killing X number of a certain monster or collecting an item in a dungeon to access better equipment. Even fighting the boss(es) for the dungeons is a quest that gives your female classmates better weapons. You can only accept a limited number of quests at a time so it is always a good idea to pick and choose when to take on these tasks.