There are several meanings to the word “conception”, but like most mature adults, our minds immediately wander to the most inappropriate one. Turns out that with the way its used in the title of the game Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, that is actually the appropriate one.
We’re just a few weeks out from Spike Chunsoft’s baby making RPG and a demo has just released to both the Nintendo eShop and the PlayStation Network. Time to find out how inconceivable of a concept this game is.
*Thoughts are based on the Vita version
1. The anime clips that play throughout the opening and in between the gameplay bits look fantastic. They are surprisingly frequent for the early part of the game, but it remains to be seen how much that will last as you get further with your progress. The character models aren’t too shabby either, though most cutscenes are done using still portraits.
2. The voiceovers are dubbed in English, which is quite surprising considering that I would regard this as a niche game even among a niche genre. Although Spike Chunsoft’s other games have been getting the dub treatment too, so I guess it shouldn’t be THAT surprising.
3. Any progress that you make can be maintained for the full version of the game when that releases, so there’s an actual purpose behind saving your progress. It’s nice not having to retread ground in an RPG demo.
4. It’s difficult to judge the pacing of an entire game based on just the opening moments, but the content of this demo sure is an information dump if there ever was one. You spend more time cycling through dialogue and tutorials than you do traversing dungeons and they seem to appear at awkward times. I never got the battle tutorial until after I had already engaged in a few fights, for example.
5. The basic premise revolves around what are called Dusk Circles which have been spawning monsters around the world. People that have a brand appear on their body one day are taken on to become Disciples as they have enough power to destroy these monsters. In addition, they must… uh… “Classmate” with each other to spawn Star Children that will assist them in their fight to save the world.
6. The act of Classmating, if you didn’t grasp it from the undertones, is exactly what it sounds like without the “class” part. Your protagonist has to build a relationship with his fellow female Disciples to raise compatibility and in doing so, they can get together in the church and create Star Children based on whatever class you choose. This process isn’t graphic by any means, to the point where you wonder if anything actually happens or if they just hold hands and think really hard.
7. Conception II definitely has a Persona vibe going for it and not just with the social interaction. When you explore dungeons, you are cast into labyrinths that are made up of randomly generated rooms and must find the exit to progress. Monsters and items can be found in each room and coming into contact with the former will launch you into battle (though being high enough level will just simply destroy them when you get close).
8. Battle parties are made up of four groups. The main character and his chosen heroine will make up one, while the other three are made up of groups of three Star Children each. When fighting an enemy, they take position in a circle around them and depending on where they strike from, they can exploit their weakness. It’s a different approach to some pretty standard conventions, and I found it to be fairly entertaining.
9. In addition to the heroines, you can converse with fellow male classmates as well, though I didn’t notice any gameplay benefit to doing this (unless I overlooked something). The game is conversation heavy as it is, so I opted out of doing this for the most part.
10. The campus/base that you start at acts as a hub of sorts where different facilities are open to you to use. Most of them were locked out, but in the demo you could at least purchase new weapons and armor, converse with classmates, and… well… Classmate.
To say that the experience is bizarre is putting it lightly. I don’t feel that there was enough gameplay to really assess how good the final product will be, but then, the last several RPG’s I’ve played demos for have almost turned me away from an otherwise amazing experience. Hopefully the same is true here. Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars releases on April 15, 2014 for the Sony PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS