Thursday, April 24, 2014

Conception II (Vita) Review

My wife comes home and sees me playing the Vita.  "Oh, is that the new game you got today?" she asks.

"Yeah, it's called Conception II.  It's an RPG where you have to pair up with these women to make 'star children' and go into dungeons with them." I reply to her.

"Sounds neat."  She looks at the girls and points at Narika.  "This one's your favorite, huh?"

"Are you insinuating that the shy, nice, long-haired, clumsy, busty girl is my favorite?"

She just stares at me.

"Well...yeah, she is." I say as I slump my shoulders and continue playing.

While Conception II has some really nice character art during conversations, it's even more impressive that they have movement to them.  Not just the breathing and blinking stuff that has been in other JRPGs over the past few years, but they actually transition to their various poses, instead of just changing pictures.  It's cool to see such nice artwork actually move, too.  Characters have two models, their 2D and their 3D ones, and scenes will sometimes switch between them.  Plot scenes will usually use the 2D while the events to raise affection will use the 3D.  At first it was a bit jarring to have two different models of the characters used so much, but I quickly got used to it.

One of the first things you have to do in the game is "classmate" to create star children.  Yes, it's suggestive, but isn't near as graphic or dirty as it sounds.  That doesn't stop the game from playing up that angle, though.  Since three children make one unit for battle, and a child's max level raises the stronger the parents are, it is one aspect of the game you will have to use.  A lot.  It's easy to do since there are many classes and combinations to play around with, and you get plenty of Bond Points for viewing events with the different girls.  And by "viewing events", I mean raising their affection for you.

If you have played a game like Persona 4 or Thousand Arms, then the concept will be familiar to you. Each time you enter town from a dungeon, you can spend time with up to three of the girls and raise their affection for you.  This level and their mood will affect the stats of the star children, so it is also something you will be doing a lot of.  The game makes continuing the story its own selectable option, so you there's no pressure to get each event/date "just right".  If you want other ways to raise the ladies' affections, you could always give them a gift.  Once you raise the town's level by releasing your children, a shop opens up that will sell gifts to give them.  Several of them are actual costume pieces that you can put on them after giving it to them.  Hopefully you are comfortable being nice to your party members and making babies with them because it's a very important function of the game.  Yes, that sounds strange to say but it's true.

Dungeons are a random series of rooms connected by hallways.  They look different from each other, but aren't really that interesting to explore or look at.  Fights are represented by monster shapes wandering around each floor, and the color and size of the shape shows its relative strength.  When in a battle, your character's speed will help determine the order they move in.  When attacking or using a skill, you can also change your position relative to the enemy.  There are four positions- front, back and both sides- that can be occupied by your four groups.  Each enemy has at least one position that, if attacked, will take more damage.  Skills will also have a location that will yield more damage if it is used there.  Combine that with the chain gauge that can be very helpful on strong enemies and you have a fairly unique and deep system.  There's even a way for a group of your children to merge into a powerful robot called Mecunite.  It is really powerful, and best reserved for boss battles.  Currently, I haven't found a way for my actual kids to do that, but I'm going to figure it out.  Yay robots!

Doing all events and sub-dungeons will run you about 60 hours, which is really impressive for an RPG nowadays.  Just doing the main dungeons would probably be about 40.  The game isn't very hard, as you can grind easily or even leave and restart on any floor you've reached.  The trophies aren't that difficult either.  It's a pretty standard list with trophies for killing monsters, clearing dungeons, viewing events and getting endings with all the ladies.  Not a hard list, but it can be time consuming.

If you like dungeon crawling RPGs or light dating-sim elements, you should like playing Conception II.  It's a lengthy game for you money.  While it lacks a lot of touch screen functionality, it plays and looks really good on the Vita.  Some people might have a hard time looking past the seemingly risque nature of the game, but those that do will find a fun RPG.  If you are still undecided, try out the demo, since the progress carries over and you get some goodies!

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