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Conception II Review Log: What's This Atlus RPG All About?

Posted on Tuesday, April 15 @ 00:01:00 PST by

At first glance, Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars seems like another tasteless, fan service-laden role-playing game complete with unnecessarily bouncing breasts and a storyline wherein you, the player, are the sole male figure capable of saving life as we know it.

At second glance, it's exactly that. At third glance... wait, how many glances are we going to give this game? Let's start over.

Atlus and Spike Chunsoft hope that Conception II's tenuous ties to the mechanics that have made Persona so beloved in the West will hook JRPG fans once more, but the game's opening hours make it hard to love.

The first cutscene introduces Wake, a new student at the Academy where Disciples learn the ways and means of fighting back against Dusk Circles, dark portals which seep monsters out into the world. Wake stumbles upon two other students, Fuuko and Chlotz, and rescues them from shadowy monsters that have mysteriously appeared on campus.

After undergoing a brief training exercise, it's discovered that Wake's Ether power is off the charts and as such, you've been branded God's Gift which turns out to be nothing more than a title other characters use to build you up. It's not enough that you and Fuuko, a top-tier female disciple, are immediately thrown into "the ritual" (of makin' babies). You have to be told how your power is one of a kind and perfect for the act of Star Child conception.

That screenshot above is from the tutorial dungeon where Fuuko and Wake have already had over half-a-dozen children to do battle at their side.

I went into Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars completely blind and wound up feeling like my anticipation for a well-written tale of learning to love fell flat on its face. Instead of meeting and carefully choosing a partner to both battle darkness and conceive a Star Child with, your hand is held through the entire act without an option to bail out and... you know, get to know the other person first. Unfortunately for my anticipation and my early impressions of the game, there's no shortage of heaving breasts to bounce the player back to consciousness.

Eventually, you're introduced to battle mechanics, dungeon crawling, and the overworld map that features locations set to a menu (again, much like the more recent Persona games). In Conception II's tutorial, these elements all feel derivative but there's an undercurrent of mystery to the entire proceeding. There are plenty of different characters to meet and speak with and ultimately I decided to utilize review logs to evaluate the game because it's a 60+ hour RPG and I just didn't have enough time with it over the weekend.

I wouldn't blame you if Conception II rubs you the wrong way... No, not the right way. Stop it. Can we please just talk first? There's a hyper-sexualization to the entire game that feels like a shroud of mystery as opposed to a joyfully empowering mechanic, and uncovering that mystery will be the focus for review logs that follow.

Still, it's a shame that this cross-platform 3DS and PS Vita game goes for the cheese so quickly to hook a predominantly male gaming audience both at home in Japan and abroad. There are thousands of women all around the world who'd certainly never submit themselves to an act as hopelessly depressing as "ritual conception" but the idea does bring about interesting questions about religion and the state of male-female relationships.

Where Conception II's world is based on need and a growing threat, the real world can feel like an entirely different place where sexual relationships are based on nothing more than momentary desire.

Consider that everything from health products to new cars are now sold with sex at the forefront of their pitches. Consider that "Once you pop, you just can't stop" feels gross in many circumstances, but totally acceptable when it comes to tube-packaged potato chips. Why can't Viagra use that line and get away with it? Oh yeah, heart disease already has it on lock and the two wouldn't mix. 

Conception II doesn't make much of an effort to sugar coat things. "This world is f***ed up and the only way we're going to overcome this is if you two get to knockin' boots. Fine, we'll show you how it's done. Just move like this." It's just unfortunate that anyone outside of Eastern sensibilities will fail to give the title a fair shake before lambasting it for such awkward presentation. Despite the rather dramatic outline I just paraphrased, the game has an unending cheeriness about it.

If Conception II never reaches beyond this shallow graveyard of caveman tendencies, it'll score very low with this reviewer.
Tags:   Conception, Atlus, review

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