I can honestly say that Conception II would be an incredibly awkward game to try and describe to anyone who doesn’t watch anime or play RPGs. In fact, if someone could find a socially acceptable way to describe a game where you impregnate girl’s souls using your “star energy” until they release a Russian nesting doll from their chests with a small chibi inside, I’ll buy them a drink. Conception II is that weird, but that may not be a bad thing.
Unique Concept(ion) - There’s actually a surprisingly large amount of content in Conception II. If I had to summarize the game, I’d say it’s more like Monster Rancher meets Harvest Moon with a hint of Final Fantasy combat. Simply put, you level up your relationship (as well as overall level) with various girls so they can give “birth” to a bunch of unique characters that join your party. However, these characters have a max levels that raise as your affection with various girls (and level) raise, meaning you can’t take your first child that capped out at level 19 into the level 30 dungeon.
Once a child reaches max level, you can feel free to send them out into the world to do good things. With every child you send out, the different places you can visit in between dungeons level up. Allowing you to take on harder quests and buy better gear. That way you don’t feel so bad when you abandon your nine-year old that you just spent 4 hours using as a meat shield.
Uncensored! - It’s nice to see a truly Japanese game make it through the American border. After what happened to Monster Monpiece, I was kind of losing hope that we’d see a relatively uncensored American import come through the border. That’s not to say I’m eagerly awaiting the Monster Girl Quest series to be imported to the 3DS, rather, I’m stating that it’s nice to see a game that says “we can watch a man get a freaking needle stabbed in his eye, so why can’t we see some fan service?”
An Alright Battle System - I can’t really complain about the battle system in Conception II as it does very little wrong. Each of your three back-up teams are made up of three star children, adding a decent level of mix and match to the gameplay. For instance, a bunch of archers will do a lot of damage and attack fast, but they won’t hurt elemental enemies too well, and they’ll die in one hit. Meanwhile, having a child with a shield means your attack will suffer, but everyone will live longer. It’s a fine balance between dishing out enough punishment between all the different enemies, and not dying in one AoE attack.
Not Bad for Americans - There’s a common stigmatism in the world of Japanese related material. Dubs will always be inferior to. This time around though, it wasn’t so bad. There’s nothing special about the audio, but it was at least enough that I didn’t have my Vita muted the whole time I played.
I DO WHAT WITH UNDERAGED GIRLS?!
I’m Going to Jail for This, Aren’t I? - I know it’s a thing to have every single mass appeal anime take place in a high school, but I’ve never been into that. I haven’t been in high school for almost seven years now, and I have no desire to go back. If they had turned this game into something where you were a shrine priest, or a lead research tech instead of a high schooler, I think this game might be a few bars less creepy than it is now. Regardless, you’re a high school boy who molests girls inside a breeding chamber. Enjoy your 25 to life.
So Bland - Halfway through the game, I stopped caring about the dungeons. I turned the auto-battle system on and proceeded to play Civilization V until I could move again. All the dungeons were the same, and after a while I had power grinded my way to the top of the food chain by doing all the bonus dungeons. In fact, towards the end of it all, I didn’t even need the auto-battle because nothing could stand up to me. The dungeons (which make up 80%+ of the gameplay) get so mindless after a while that I began to get an understanding of what being a government employee felt like.
Not Enough Interaction - As I just said, mindless dungeon crawling takes up about 80% of the game. The other 20% gets broken up between managing your inventory, watching cutscenes where a blonde kid deals with his daddy issues and interacting with girls. Considering this is a game where you impregnate said girls with special star juice, you’d think there’d be a bit more character interaction. Instead, the dungeons become so long that you run out of unique conversations before you’re even halfway through that chapter’s dungeon. Way to pace your gameplay guys.
Lame Ending - After 20 hours of grinding through dungeons and having awkward sexual encounters with girls you get a 10 minute ending where they congratulate you for saving the world. Then, you get a cut scene with your favorite girl that lasts all of 30 seconds. My first and only playthrough, I went with Serina because I’m an admitted sucker for “tsundere” girls. However, a 30-second epilogue where you end up a slave at a cafe was so underwhelming that I couldn’t be bothered to see how the other endings turned out.
Conception II sits on an awkward point for me. On one hand, I want to congratulate the game for making it over to America with almost no censoring. On the other hand, I spent 20 hours playing what I believe to be a lukewarm dating sim/RPG at best. I recommend it for people who’ve already shipped every possible pairing in Fire Emblem and need a new fix, but not for anyone else. It’s not a very good game, but it’s one of the few dating sims currently out there for this console generation.
*This review was based on the PS Vita version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.