4cr Plays – Conception II

by Antonio Garcia

Conception II has raised a lot of eyebrows as it approached release. Its mix of dating sim and RPG is unique, but the specifics delve into socially taboo subject matter and are arguably misogynistic. The mechanics of dating school girls and “classmating” with them to produce “Star Children” rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and rightfully so.  In the face of an increasingly self-aware and self-assessing gaming society is there room for a game like Conception II?

The world of Aterra is in danger from a huge onslaught of monsters. Those special enough to be imbued with the mighty power of the Star God must rise to the occasion to save the planet before it’s too late. When a young man is identified as God’s Gift, a small ray of hope shines over us all. How can God’s Gift help turn the tide? Why, by combining his raw energy with that of female S rank students in order to “classmate” so that Star Children can be born to increase the odds of victory!

Yes, you read that right. The main premise of the game has to do with how the main character can interact with female students to bond with them, increasing their compatibility. He also aims to improve the mood of each female so that he can make powerful Star Children with others. You then take these Star Children into the labyrinths where you will use them to defeat the powerful monsters that are terrorizing the planet. This means that Conception II mixes a dating sim with a turn-based RPG where you can micro-manage how your characters and their children develop during your quest.

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Before we go on, there is something you should know if you tried the Demo before buying the game itself. Your time will not go to waste since you can transfer your data to the full game to unlock some free extras that will help you during the first hours of the game.

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The labyrinths are of the “randomly generated” variety, and, therefore, every trip will feel a bit different. During each battle, you must consider where each of your party members (and Star Children) are located because some enemies have a weak point which can be attacked, and some have powerful attacks that target specific areas in the battlefield. There is also a risk/reward system in place during battle since attacking monsters from a spot where they can greatly damage you will also greatly increase the Chain Drive gauge. Attacking a weak point or attacking from a safe location will only slightly increase the Chain Drive gauge. Once this skill activates, it will greatly slow the enemy, and it will also reward you with more experience points when you defeat it.

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Another element to take into consideration during battle is the Ether density. Ether is a must in order for your party to be effective, and you can increase it during battle by performing specific actions. The higher the level the faster and stronger your party will be. But you have to be careful since trying to increase the level past its maximum will reset it back to level zero, which is NOT good in the heat of battle!

There is a ton of voice acting in the game, which means that all major cut scenes are fully voiced. Some of the NPC interactions aren’t fully voiced, along with some of the smaller interaction with the main cast, but you will still hear several hours of great voice acting that helps to make each character feel unique.

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You can go to the Comm Station to “Blindmate.” This is done by either creating your own session, or by joining one started by someone else. Here, you will exchange information in local multiplayer to Classmate with the heroines from someone else’s copy of the game. It”s notable that the Star Children born from Blindmating are more powerful than those you can create from regular Classmating.

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Speaking of the Comm Station, it also allows you to get free and paid DLC for the main game. There is some free DLC available during the next couple of weeks as a thank you from Atlus, but you better act fast because soon said content will shift to paid DLC. The add-on offers extra weapons, alternate colors for your character’s clothes, and some extra sidequests, and future DLC will also include a fight with Momokuma, the evil principal from Danganronpa. New DLC will be released each week, so be sure to check the list at this link for the full schedule.

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After a particular event in the game, you will also unlock the Lab, a special location you can visit to accept quests that will reward you with weapons and armor for your team. On top of said rewards, you will also unlock more items for purchase at the shop, thus making it easier for you to properly equip your team for the hardest of dungeons.

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I also wanted to mention that the game does not display in 3D the whole time. During conversations and when moving around menus and such, the game is displayed in 2D. But when you’re Classmating, exploring labyrinths or when in battle, the 3D effect kicks in to give a nice boost to the graphics. I would have liked the 3D to be available all the time, but it is what it is.

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Unlike some RPGs, Conception II works well as a portable release because of the mix of dating sim and RPG. You can easily play a dungeon or two, interact with one of the female characters or Classmate either when you have a bit of time to spare or when you’re ready to spend several hours of playtime to get a particular Star Child you need, and after placing the 3DS in sleep mode the game will be waiting for you and available as soon as you’ve rested for a bit and ready to go at it again.

Conception II is definitely not for everyone since the main premise of reproducing with school girls might be too much for some to stomach. The otaku fan service dial has been dialed up to 11 in the dialog, the interactions, and the design of each of the female students adds to the overall creepiness of the premise (the header image and the rest of the images in this review are a fair representation of the game). This might rightfully keep some people away from this Atlus release, and has certainly generated interesting discussion about the nature of the game and its patriarchal influences. It also doesn’t help that the nature of the game doesn’t really allow you to do a gender swap of the main character or anything else to make the experience more even-handed (though that doesn’t address the whole classmating with school kids thing).  If you can get past all that, however, Conception II is still a fun RPG.

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