Jesus christ this fucking game dude. Hokay, let's see here. So after the last review I wondered whether Spike Chunsoft could do no wrong. Normally I would have never gotten this game, since it sounds dumb as fuck, but. I don't care how dumb something seems if it's made by one of my favorite developers. You impress me enough, I'm gonna throw money at you. That's how it works. Videogames are like strippers.
And speaking of throwing money at strippers, this game is a waste of money too. Turns out SC has no idea what makes an RPG good, and so, rather than educate themselves on the principles of good design, they think they can just copy a few things from Persona and call it a day. WRONG, motherfuckers. It doesn't work like that.
Now, I'm not against copying shit off another game if it's good, but lemme tell you assholes something right now: if you don't even understand what makes a game good then you're a fucking idiot because then how will you know WHAT to copy? Based on popularity? Sales perhaps? Give me a fucking break. If we did that we'd be swimming in even more GTA clones and fuck knows we don't need much more of that mediocre shit.
So anyway, Conception II. The world is being overrun by shadowy monsters born from the darkness of people's hearts or some shit. You're a dude freshly transferring to this special school where teenagers with special powers fight the monsters. And yes, once you grow out of your teens you immediately lose all of your powers. 'cause once you hit 20 you're an old man and therefore useless. Everyone knows that. Anyway, chief among the ways monsters are fought is by giving birth to "star children", little guys who help you in battle, which are created through a special ritual called "classmating" in which a boy pours his "ether" into a girl's "star womb". No, I am not making any of this shit up.
Among all the other guys your dude is extra special because he's the only one gifted with a 100% conception rate when he classmates with "S-rank females", i.e. the heroines, i.e. your harem. Anyway, who knows what sorta stuff goes down in those rituals man. Every time you do it you get shots of the girl naked in suggestive animations but nobody really knows why. That stuff's a mystery, nam sayin'.
After making a star child you pick its class from a bunch of different ones (figher, mercenary, magician, healer, the works) and as you progress you get access to new classes. That's cool. The star child only goes up to a certain level (depending on your level and the mother's level) so you're supposed give them independence when they max out, kick 'em out into the world and start over with a new level 1 child, that way you get to try out all the different classes and find out which ones are totally OP and which ones are totally ass. You put your star children in groups of 3 each, and each group basically amounts to a party member, because they act as one unit even though there's 3 of them in there. By mixing and matching different classes in a group you can discover combination skills which could potentially be really good or really ass. That's interesting, though the ones that are actually useful are few, sometimes you'll get combination skills that are somehow weaker than a single child skill, and sometimes you can go really long stretches without learning anything new, especially at the later levels.
So you get your party together, which consists of you + one of the heroines (you and the girl act as one unit, same as 3 star children) and 3 groups of 3 star children each, and you go into many labyrinths to fight monsters. And here's where the real problems with Conception II start showing up. First of all, they copied the terrible dungeon design from Persona 3 and 4, or should I say, lack of design. Each floor of the labyrinth is randomly generated each time you go in, which means once you've seen the first floor you've seen all the other hundreds that you're going to run through for the entire fucking game. It's all the exact same shit. But to make matters worse, they've married these horrible dungeons to an incredibly boring battle system and pussy ass bitch made enemies that pose absolutely zero challenge throughout the entire game. And what do you get when you combine all these things? You get an incredibly boring RPG.
The funny thing is that Conception II boasts a surprisingly extensive tutorial full of explanations on a bunch of different features and mechanics of its battle system, but it's all a ruse. It's all fake features and fake complexity. It's a bunch of bullshit mechanics just for the sake of having them in there even though they're worthless and bring no interesting gameplay to the table. WOAMG Weak Points! Chain Drive Gauge! Ether Density! Seventh Burst! Elemental Affinities! Mecunite! ...guess what. NONE OF THIS HORSE SHIT ACTUALLY MATTERS.
Enemy weak points is literally just that you can choose to attack an enemy from one of four directions, and attacking from a certain direction is either a weak point or it's not. If the attack arrow is red that means it's a weak point, and if the arrow is blue that means it's not a weak point. If you attack from a weak direction your attack does a little more damage. O...kay? It's not like you're ever limited in what direction you can choose to attack and it's not like you have to find out which side the enemy is weak from or anything. You can just always attack from the red arrow and get more damage if you want. Or you can just not care and just mash the attack button from whatever direction because it doesn't really make that much difference.
Chain Drive is a gauge that gets filled up whenever you attack the enemy from a direction that isn't a weak point. When it fills up the enemy's turn is slowed down and if you attack it at this point before its next turn comes up you increase a chain count which makes attacks do more damage and gives you more exp. Now, ignoring the fact that this conflicts with the previous mechanic... I mean, do they want us to attack from the weak points and deal more damage, or attack from the not weak points and build the chain gauge and do more damage? (Hint: it doesn't actually matter) Enemies die far too quickly to build up the chain drive gauge without dragging things out by deliberately doing as little damage as possible (and a lot of times they still die too fast even then).
Ether Density is a number from 0 to 3 that makes your party act faster if it's higher. The game likes to act like it's important but it's actually not. At all. The way to increase it is by doing critical attacks (which you can't control) and by killing enemies (which you were going to do ANYWAY). So it doesn't even really affect the way you play or any decision making. You can also increase it by using a special skill but enemies die so quickly that you were probably better off attacking and winning earlier than wasting time with that fucking bullshit. Besides, you can still fight at 0 density and does it make any real difference? No.
Seventh Burst is basically just a strong special attack with a cool animation. That's all it is. But the game likes to act like it's some special fucking mechanic. Fuck you. And elemental affinities? Don't make me laugh. Supposedly certain elemental attacks do more damage against other elemental affinities but in practice it doesn't fucking matter. You can be hit by something you're weak to and it won't make a difference. You'll never be in any danger. Maybe you'll take more damage. Possibly. Who cares. And enemies are so easy that it doesn't matter whether you did a little bit more damage to them or not. Even most bosses in this game die in like a round or two, I'm serious. It's pathetic. Sigh. Look, dipshits, if you're going to put something like this in your game it has to be NOTICEABLE. It has to feel like it had a big effect. Since you seem to like copying the Personas (but not the good parts), let's look at that. When you hit an enemy with the element they're weak to, you get a WHOLE NEW TURN and the enemy falls flat on his ass, helpless to your incoming rape. The effect is massive and immediately apparent. But hell, even a game as simple as Pokemon does it better than this game. You hit an enemy with an element they're weak to and you get the neat message "It's super effective!" (there's a reason that phrase is memetic) and the damage increase is so large you get to see their life bar just evaporate. Get it? It has to feel like it had a big effect.
The game likes to say things like "Combining elemental affinities is a very important part of exploring the labyrinths." That's a huge fucking lie. It has absolutely no importance. The elemental affinity of your character is set to the same one as the heroine you took with you, and the game says you should choose a heroine based on the element of the enemies you're going to fight, but this can be completely ignored. I guess on the bright side that's kind of good because it allows you to just use the best girl all the time (hint: it's Feene) and ignore the rest.
Finally, Mecunite, this mechanic instead of making no difference actually detracts from the game. It's a move you can do at any time that combines your star children into a crazy mech with crazy attacks and the ability to heal your entire party for 9999 HP every turn. As if this game needed to be ANY fucking easier and trivialized further.
In any case, what it boils down to is that the dungeons are all terrible and boring, the battle system is a huge snorefest, enemies and even bosses are incredibly easy, and to make matters worse leveling up doesn't feel meaningful or special in any way. Let me make another comparison: in the previous RPG I reviewed, Etrian Odyssey (which by the way is 100% a better RPG than this game), something that was really cool was that you always looked forward to every level up because each time you gained 1 skill point on each character that you could spend to get a new skill or strengthen an existing one, and the game was challenging enough (at least at first) that it felt like gaining those skills mattered. In Conception II I cannot give the slightest fucks about my level. And that's just doom for an RPG.
In fact, this game is so boring that I couldn't even be assed to do all of the optional labyrinths because they're ALL THE SAME and put me to fucking sleep. I did the first few but after a while I couldn't do it anymore. Nope. I refuse. It's that bad. In fact, it got to the point where I started dodging enemies instead of getting into fights, and that's something I don't normally do. And thank fucking god that they're easy to dodge. In the field the enemies look like dark shadowy monsters suspiciously similar to the ones in the Personas, but they move slower. Whatever man, don't blame me. The fights are so pointless and there are way too many of these fuckers, like 3 or more per room or some shit. There's only so much I can take.
As if that wasn't enough, your HP and MP throughout the labyrinths don't matter either because the game shits out restorative items all over the god damn place. Just go full ham, it doesn't matter. Eventually I had to start popping MP restoring items like candy because I had 99 and I couldn't open chests anymore. Terrible.
Outside of the labyrinths the game fares a little better. Though the main plot isn't very interesting, the characters, dialogue and shenanigans they get up to are entertaining. Aside from your main character you have 7 girls to choose from for your party (hence the name a the game), and almost all of them are really nice and friendly so they're easy to like. Each one has their own storyline that you develop through events by hanging out with them, with new events opening up as the main story progresses. As your relationship with them develops you'll be able to make better star children, and you can improve their mood by saying things they'll like and giving them gifts they like. Once you max out their relationship level you can marry one of them at the end of the game, so that's all cool stuff. Although the bulk of the work obviously went into the 7 heroines there's also plenty of events with other characters throughout the game. No worries, there's still room for the homies dogg. This is easily the best part of the game and helps Conception II not be a completely terrible piece of shit. I'm not gonna say it makes slogging through those horrible labyrinths worth it, but something is something.
The art is pretty decent and there's a surprising amount of anime cutscenes in the game, though their quality can vary considerably. Seems that usually the most effort is put into stuff like the swimsuit scenes (I fuckin' wonder why). The music is a very blatant and shameless ripoff of the style used in Persona 3 and 4, but with none of the quality so it's not any good. The voice acting, on the other hand, IS good. Can always expect Atlus to hire the best VAs and this is no exception. Conception II has great performances (as usual) from the likes of David Vincent and Cristina Valenzuela, but the biggest surprise to me was Erin Fitzgerald, who I've had a secret grudge on for replacing Chie's original VA in Persona 4 and sounding wildly different. Truth is that she does such an amazing job voicing Feene in this game that I can't keep my grudge going. Didn't think she had it in her.
If it somehow hasn't already been made clear, it's pretty obvious that this is some kind of pervert game. Not that fanservice isn't common but in Conception II it's seriously off de charts. You've got boobs jiggling like jello all over the damn place at the slightest hint of movement. Upskirts all over the place for no reason. Pool scenes, shower scenes, nudity scenes, the works. It's all pretty shameless. You can change the girls' outfits and just have them wear swimsuits. There are these gimmicky parts in the game where you're supposed to use the touchscreen to do certain things like grab an item or wipe the tears off a girl's face and for some reason in all of these parts you always have 2 options of what you can do: the thing that you're supposed to do, or grabbing the girl's tits. It's incredibly inappropriate the way copping a feel is ALWAYS explicitly shown to be the second (and only other) option irrespective of the context or current situation at hand, and also fucking hilarious, especially with the main character's audacious excuses "Oops, my hand slipped" ...right before doing it again. And yeah, that's right, I just called sexual assault hilarious. Rape culture. Get at me, feminists.
But any dang way. This game would've honestly been better as a straight visual novel/dating sim/pervert game than an RPG. The RPG elements are just badly done and most of all extremely boring, and the entertaining parts of the game don't do enough to make up for it. Don't bother with this shit.
Final Verdict: C-
Final Playtime: 71 hours