Why pay child support when you can have your children play support?
Conception II is a silly game.
When I first heard of the idea of making children and having them fight for you like they’re some kind of Pokémon hatched from eggs, I couldn’t help but laugh.
Still, I figured it wasn’t the weirdest thing to come out of Japan, and hoped that the surrounding mechanics and character interactions would propel the game past the novelty concept.
Unfortunately, while it falls short of being a great game, it does end up with a unique identity of its own.
The trope of the “chosen one” is an idea that’s rehashed too often but Conception II takes that to the absolute limit as the player is placed in the shoes of the “God’s Gift”, who has the potential to strike at the enemy’s heart and destroy all the monsters from the source.
As the G.G.(God’s Gift), it’s the player’s duty to “class-mate”(DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?!) with as many S-Class female disciples as possible to make Star Children, which are little chibi humanoids that aren’t quite human.
The Star Children have great power, and can fight alongside the disciples against the monsters infesting the world.
So the G.G. begins his life in the academy and goes out around the world, eliminating dusk circles accompanied by his female companion of choice and army of Star Children.
I’m not going to pretend that this is a serious story in any way, and the game has fun making puns and poking fun at itself.
The majority of Conception II is broken up in two parts.
One is a standard visual novel that takes place in a hub world, where the player can go around the city talking to classmates, buying items or making children at the church.
Talking to the various heroines the G.G. can classmate with presents the player with little events that flush out their personalities, and deepens affinity to the G.G. which serves to produce stronger Star Children.
The player can also buy gifts to give to the girls, which they may or may not like depending on their personality, but their affinity level is artificially capped to a certain point based on the point of progress in the story.
While during the story dialogue the characters are portrayed using sharp animated sprites, they are presented as 3D models during the dating sim events.
The 3D models are done well, but I preferred the 2D sprites, which I think showed off the character designs of the heroines a bit better.
In titles like Persona 3 and 4, each interaction would take up precious time (which there was a finite amount of), making the player choose wisely as to who they want to interact with, but there are no such limitations in Conception II. As long as the player rests in his room, he will be able to continue triggering more events indefinitely after the three actions quota has been exhausted.
While it’s nice to be able to see all the story events of the girls (outside of special “pick one” events), it does make the time with them feel less important.
Worse yet is that while many of the events are funny and charming bits of nonsense, quite a few events repeat themselves, and I was very thankful for the option to skip dialogue and just get the affinity points quickly.
The other half of the title plays out within randomized dungeons filled with treasure and monsters alike.
The monsters are clearly visible on the map as the player navigates the labyrinth (no random encounters). and depending on how they come in contact with the monster, they enter the battle with an advantage or disadvantage which determines the starting turn order.
The biggest mechanic in the combat is the use of positioning, as there is front, back, left and right, as monsters are often weak against attacks coming from different directions.
It seems obvious to position the group to get the bonus weakness damage, but sometimes that could mean getting ambushed from behind by another enemy.
Many skills requiring MP also gain various benefits based on where the G.G. and the other party members are positioned, so it behooves the player to study the battlefield carefully before taking action.
The G.G. is always accompanied by one heroine, as their stats and HP/MP pools are shared, and the rest of the party is created from Star Children of various classes in groups of three.
The Star Children also share stats and HP/MP as well, and gain special bonus passive and active skills based on their composition, and there is a lot of room to experiment with what classes of Star Children complement each other well.
There is also an elemental affinity and weakness along with “chaining” an enemy for bonus damage for every consecutive hit, but even with all of these combat mechanics, I found I spent most of the battles in auto-battle with the speed turned up and tactics set to full assault.
Conception II is not a very difficult game by any means, and I rarely felt the need to use advanced tactics outside of a few boss battles.
Even so, there was a need to grind from time to time, as the Star Children can only go up to a certain max level based on the level of the G.G./Heroine that produced them, so when they hit max level, they are better off given independence, where they go out into the city to raise its level to unlock more facilities.
That meant replacing high level Star Children with newly birthed level one children that needed to be leveled up before they could be of any practical use, and when they hit max level too… well, you get the idea.
While the visual novel aspect of Conception II succeeds mostly thanks to presentation, the story and characters aren’t entirely memorable, and even though the combat is competent, it loses much of its strategic elements due to its lack of difficulty and boring, repetitive dungeons.
Conception II is a title I feel wanted to be a contender to P4G’s crown of the best Vita JRPG, and while it borrows some elements from the king, it falls short of its goal and presents a solid, albeit unremarkable title with its own unique quirks.
Fun Tidbit – I didn’t go into how a Star Child is made because it’s left rather ambiguous in the game itself but I’ll say that while it isn’t entirely tasteful, it isn’t offensive either.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.