While the first game wasn’t a very good dungeon crawler, I enjoyed the variety of heroines enough to like it as a galge, so I decided to go give the second game a shot as soon as I got a Vita. In a nutshell, Conception II is a slightly better RPG but a worse galge than the first. I guess that averages out to be a mediocre RPG/galge hybrid.
Seven dungeons representing the seven deadly sins appeared in the world around twenty years ago, and at the same time, people start receiving the power of the stars. These powers are crucial for fighting the monsters from the dungeons, but they disappear once you turn 19, so teenagers with the power are gathered at a special high school at a fortress town in order to train in combat and hold their ground at various defense lines against the monsters. They can’t go into the dungeons and take out the source though, because the dungeons are highly concentrated in Mazuru energy, which cancels out the power of the stars needed to fight monsters. The world is pretty much in a stalemate, until the protagonist (nameable) shows up.
Displaying an extraordinary amount of ether energy, the protagonist is able to create an ether field within dungeons and allow people around him to use their star powers. His is deemed the chosen one who will have to go into dungeons and defeat their bosses. But he won’t be doing this alone, for he can bring a heroine with him, as well as Star Children created between him an a heroine. The school functions on rankings, and all the heroines are S-rank in terms of star power, thus guaranteeing strong children. Now the protagonist has to get closer to the girls, make Star Children to bring into dungeons, and crawl through dungeons with randomly-generated floors that look the same everywhere.
It’s a pretty standard plot, although it provides a stronger sense of danger and urgency than the excuse plot 101 that was the first game. While interactions with heroines usually take place outside of story scenes, all the bromance happens during the plot-related cutscenes.
I am tempted to be lazy and just say that the battle system and dungeons are the same as the first game, but I am willing to bet that most people reading this in the near future probably haven’t played it, so that won’t exactly work.
Anyway, you crawl through dungeons with randomly-generated floors, not unlike Persona 3/4′s dungeons. I’d say the dungeons here are more like crawling through Tartarus, because they are pretty much palette swaps of each other and lack the visual distinctness of the Persona 4 dungeons. While the early ones are bearable, the latter dungeons become more and more tedious until the final dungeon which is a tedium of 25 randomly-generated floors that have the same wallpaper everywhere. I guess if that’s your thing then you might enjoy the game, but I was yawning my way through. I guess I prefer first-person dungeon crawlers where you move step-by-step. Each floor of the dungeon gives you a chance to exit, and you can re-enter from any previously-reached floor you want. Death in dungeons results in loss of money.
You can pay money to re-challenge a stronger version of a previously-cleared dungeon with higher-leveled enemies, no exit/restart opportunities, but also no death penalty.
Battle system is the same thing as the previous game, with slightly more options. I remember enjoying it for the first 20 hours due to novelty, but it lacked staying power and became boring by the end. Thankfully, this game has some difficulty spikes in late-game bosses that actually make the user think and utilize the battle system mechanics, making it better than the first game. Unfortunately, those moments are quite few. Particularly memorable was the chapter 7 boss, which was quite a pain in the ass. Grinding is generally not recommended because experience-scaling is non-existent and trying to casually level up on dungeon enemies will take an eternity. Even if said enemies are ten levels above you.
Battles involve your party surrounding an enemy from four directions. Each enemy has at least on direction as a weak point, and will take extra damage when attacked there. Attacking an enemy’s weak direction also increases the Overchain Gauge more. Once the Overchain Gauge reaches a certain level, the enemy will be chained down and their next turn will be delayed. A chained down enemy will take more damage from attacks, be more vulnerable to critical hits, and racking up a combo on the chained down enemy will result in bonus EXP, money, and Kizuna Points at the end of battle.
Kizuna Points allow your kids to fuse and transform into a mech, which comes with a all-ally healing skill that outclasses anything a cleric can hope to attain in his lifetime, and a all-enemy attacking skill that can also be quite useful. The protagonist also has skills that use up Kizuna Points and speeds up ally turns slightly.
While there are only four directions to stand in and each child team can only occupy one direction (protagonist can stand in the same space as a child team), there are skills that target multiple directions that can be put to good use. Enemies also have skills that target certain directions, and other enemies can come up on you from behind, so moving around is a good idea. Moving delays your next turn by more than usual, though. As well as using skills. Elements are very important when it comes to taking and receiving damage.
You can have up to four units in battle, one of them being the team of the protagonist + heroine. The other three units are made up of groups of 3 Star Children each. The children are made through the Ceremony of Love at the cathedral, and their starting stats are determined by the mother (heroine) and the protagonist’s level. Their level cap is also dependent on the protagonist’s and heroine’s level, as well as their closeness. Occasionally, an oddity will occur and a child with a level cap of 99 will be born early in the game. The children are meant to be, uhh, how do I put this nicely…disposable, especially early on. The children you start with have a level cap of 10, and once a child hits his or her level cap, there is no point in keeping them around. Instead, the children can be sent off into town to “become independent”, and level up the town. By leveling up the town you unlock more facilities and level up current ones, increasing shop stocks and available guild quests and the like.
Each child has an element and the team element depends on which element occurs the most often in the team. Team stats are the sum of the children’s stats. Each child has their own HP/MP bars but they are shared in combat and the unit can function as long as one kid is alive. However, skills belonging to unconscious children cannot be used.
Once a child is born, you can choose his or her class. Available classes depend on the kid’s base stats, which in turn depends on the heroine’s. Each heroine has a different stat distribution pattern, but beyond the starting stats, the child’s stat growth is more dependent on his/her class. Since you’ll be replacing your kids quite often at the beginning, they usually end up inferior in strength compared to the protagonist + heroine team.
The Ceremony of Love used to make children? It is probably exactly what it sounds and looks like.
There are a total of 7 heroines in Conception II, down from the total of 12 in the previous game. They are also less varied in terms of design and personality, since the plot dictates that they must all be high school aged, unlike Conception I where there was an equal amount of onee-sans/mature ladies, normal girls, and lolis. Even the teacher character in this game is 18 years old due to skipping grades. The first game also had the superior character designs, as everyone had their own unique sense of fashion rather than having to wear a standardized school uniform.
The game is a lot more generous with CG events this time around, and each heroine’s individual story is longer. Just because they are longer doesn’t mean they all got an equal increase in quality, however. Of all the heroine stories, only Ellie’s was really interesting, and most of them just involve the protagonist and heroine barely doing anything until the last few events (like Tori’s). The interactions between heroine and protagonist lack chemistry most of the time.
Of course, the likability of the heroines is highly subjective since this has the same appeal as moege. If there happens to be a heroine who you really take a liking to, then the game becomes much more enjoyable. However, I just found most of the heroines’ “charm points” more strange or forced than actually charming, and a lot of the events are cliched and not in an enjoyable or well-executed way. My personal favorite is Finne-senpai, probably because she has a more genuine feeling to her and is somewhat reminiscent of the female knight archetype without being forced into it. Chloe-sensei is also quite cute, and Ellie is a decent kouhai. Someone on the writing team tried too hard to make Serina the template flat-chested tsundere who is always going on about wanting to become like an adult, and it comes off being unnatural.
The fact that almost everyone instantly likes the protagonist makes the galge aspect a lot less exciting. The seasonal calendar system that was pretty much useless outside of seasonal events with the girls in the last game is even less relevant here, since there are no seasonal dates or anything of the like. The game also skimped on additional, non-plot-related events with the heroines, making full completion less of a pain, but you miss out on things like Christmas dates and cherry blossom-viewing and the like. Most of the events are generic ones taking place at the school.
There are also some really pointless events like heroines texting you in dungeons and during battles to say some really generic “good luck in the dungeon” lines. Checking your mail during battles uses up a turn, by the way. The heroines’ affections also increase too quickly for you to really need to give them gifts. All the girls are pretty pleasant personality-wise this time around (barring Serina, the sole representation of the tsun side), probably because everyone and their mother on 2ch complained about the first game’s main heroine. I did too, but then I realized that a “safe” main heroine is quite boring. Yes, there is a harem end.
The graphics haven’t improved much since the first game on the PSP, barring higher resolution and less jaggedness resulting from the hardware upgrade. The 3D models during conversations with the heroines are an acquired taste, at best. They should have switched to cel-shaded models, but at least the 2D character art is still nice. The drawn background art is also pretty good, but the 3D dungeons look pretty shoddy. The children are still adorable, so I guess everything is fine. Just expect upgraded PSP graphics.
Character design, as previously mentioned, was superior in the first game. The heroines look a lot less memorable this time around, barring Tori, who looks like she played too much Dangan Ronpa and decided to take on Monobear’s color scheme.
There’s quite a few reused tracks from the first game, which wasn’t too stellar in the music department. Neither is this game. Game needs to lay off on the pop songs with random vocals. Battle music isn’t too great either.
Mediocre game, mediocre heroines. A certain difficulty spike at the end of Chapter 7 made me like the game better since I actually had to think for that fight, and the finally battle wasn’t bad either. I came for the waifus, stayed for battle system and children (glorious Dungeon Masters and Bullet Knights!). I cleared the game in just under 40 hours with a savefile that can be used to save/reload for every ending. NG+ lets you restart from the second-last chapter or the beginning of the game with heroine affection levels reset.
I can’t really call this a good game that I’d go around recommending, but I didn’t dislike it either.