The act of childbirth is often held as a wondrous event across the world. Within Conception II: Child of the Seven Stars, it’s a completely different story as you conceive countless children with various women and take them into battle with you to protect the world. If you thought that was weird, we are just getting started. Atlus has brought us a game that is unique in some ways and yet painfully dull in every other aspect.
Conception II starts off with an absolutely beautiful cinematic as you approach this island that only those with the blessed mark may enter. As you enter what seems to be a military camp fused with a Japanese high school, you meet various individuals who have also been blessed by the Star God. What are these blessed teens doing here? Well, saving the world of course! Dusk circles have begun to open all across the globe, spewing out monsters that wish to destroy the world and it’s up to you to save it!
You won’t be alone on this quest, though; you’ll take your children with you. Not long into the game, you can start building social links similar to that of the Persona series with many of the females. Then, you can begin “classmating” with them. Yes, that euphemism is an actual game term and gameplay mechanic. Doing this allows you and your heroine of choice to bring a tiny, individual “star child” into the world to fight alongside you. Up to nine of these little fellas can join you as you go fight monsters in the dusk circles, as they work in teams of three.
When you create a star child, you can assign a variety of classes to it. These classes are very varied as not only weapons make a difference but also skills that the child may learn. Creating a team of star children with various classes is probably the best strategy going forward in the game without any problems. Each child and heroine also has an element that contributes to the team in various ways.
The dusk circles are laid out as labyrinths, not unlike that of the Persona series. These labyrinths are bland and boring as they all look very similar and feature more than enough dead ends. These locations might be randomized, but they look and feel the same with their mazelike corridors and dreadfully similar design structures. Each floor has a way for you to escape and a way for you to climb up to fight the boss of that particular dusk circle.
The battles are what make this game different, but not necessarily in a good way. When you go into battle, you have your standard selection of actions: attack, defend, flee, use skills, use items, etc. You also have turn order for yourself, your heroine of choice, your star children teams, and then the enemies you may be facing. Strategy isn’t a huge factor with battles sadly, as the game features a mechanic that allows you to aim for the weak spot on each enemy. This mechanic might have been more interesting if the game didn’t blatantly tell you exactly where it is. Abusing this mechanic is incredibly easy and can take the fun out of the game very quickly until you near the end of the game, where enemies become much more complex and prepared for you to attempt and strike their obvious weakpoints.
While Conception II features the very usual JRPG elements we are used to such as dungeon crawling, grinding, and repetitive battles; they also mix in some parts of a dating sim. If you want to make stronger star children, then the females you classmate with need to have a strong bond with you. This makes you take time from the labyrinths to get to know all of the seven classmate-able females in the game.
While the game only cuts away to a 3D render of the two classmating individuals holding hands, presenting the act as an innocent ritual, the dialogue couldn’t be more blatant. Sexual humor floods the dialogue and innuendo is featured in almost every part of the game. From the dialogue mentioning bust sizes and sexual acts, to the females breasts performing gravity defying acts of bouncing at every possible moment, it is clear that it takes more than a handshake to make star children. The game tries to get away with talking about sex without talking about sex all too often and it left me setting down my Vita and walking away just to get a break from the high school maturity of it all.
The biggest problem with the game isn’t the battle system nor the sexual innuendos. It’s the plotline. All of them. The female heroines all have pretty dull plotlines; the main story is extremely dull and doesn’t give you the want or drive to continue forward in order to save the world. Nearly an hour or so into the game, I found myself strongly disliking the English voice acting, so I went to the options to change it to Japanese. The option wasn’t there – it was missing. So being stuck with what seemed like try-hard voice acting made me both disappointed and almost irritated towards the late parts of the game.
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars starts off as a decent game but quickly heads south because of its lack of imagination and a strong plotline. The battle system is possibly the only saving grace, alongside the new and novel idea of having nine star children accompany you on your battles. This game just falls flat though, especially when compared to the ocean of other similar games available on both the Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita. If you haven’t already played the other staple JRPG games on your handheld system, then try those before giving this one a try. While Conception II can satisfy the craving for a JRPG game, there are other more delicious offerings available.