Anyone who says that Conception II is like Persona with babies, is... well.. mostly wrong.
Conception II is the new game from Atlus that was released here in the US this past week. I have now sunken about 12 hours into the game and feel I have enough content to talk about it. So here we go.
Conception II is a JRPG which features a Dating Sim built into it. This unlike Persona in many ways because you aren't trying to be friends with the girls in the game and there are no guys that will affect your story. You are literally dating all of the girls at the same time. This can be quite fun, but it confuses me when I am talking to Chloe and she is revealing that she likes me a bit, but then I go out with Fuuko and she also admits the same thing. I guess this is a good thing though, because you need all of the bonds with the girls to be strong so that the star children you make while classmating will be strong. There are instances though where you will have all of the girls in a group and be able to choose which one you like. Though I haven't really seen the affect on the story too much.
Classmating is a very basic system. You go through and choose which girl you would like to classmate with and then you produce a star child which you will use to help you get through dungeons. Once the child is born you choose a class for it, and it starts at level 1 and has basic gear. When you first start classmating your level cap for your star children will be very low, but as your bonds increase with the girls the level cap will increase. (All the way up to 99)
A catch is you can only have up to 70 children at a time. You resolve this cap by setting your children independent which in turn will level up the city where the academy is located. Leveling up the city is very useful as it will unlock new facilities, quests, and items that can be purchased from the shops. And don't worry about the 70 children cap, so far the most children I've had with me at a time is 20.
As far as the battle system goes, it differs from Persona in many ways but is similar in other ways. Instead of taking your friends with you to fight the shadows, you now take one heroine and your star children (Up to nine at a time, three groups of three) to fight the monsters that have been rising up from the dusk circles around the world. You will go into labyrinths to fight the monsters, and eventually fight the Dusk Spawner, which is the monster that spawns the other monsters. This is exactly like Persona in that you explore the dungeon to find items and the portal that will take you to the next floor until you find the dungeon's Dusk Spawner.
How you fight the monsters is a bit more strategic. You can position your attacker in one of the four positions around the monster you are attacking. Each monster has different weak points which are taken advantage of by attacking from the position that allows you to hit the weak point. The catch is that there is a system called CHAIN which is a meter that fills up as you attack the monsters. If you attack from the weak points, the meter will basically not fill up at all. Sometimes this is okay because you are just wanting to wipe out the monster quickly, but with stronger monsters this is a very useful system to utilize. When you attack from positions that aren't weak points you will increase the meter a bit; attack from a position that is in danger because an enemy is charging an attack up to hit that area and the meter will fill up very quickly. When the meter fills up to a certain level the enemy will be chained, meaning that the monster will be slowed down significantly which allows you to get more attacks in before it becomes that monsters turn again. As well as after the monster is chained you will be able to create a combo in which the more hits that land on the monster the more damage that will be inflicted. The bigger your combo is the bigger of a XP bonus you will receive after you finish the fight.
Lastly, there is another system called your ether count, this is utilized to make your characters faster in battle so that you can get more attacks in before a monster attacks. You increase it either by using skills to increase it, eliminating a monster, or attacking from certain positions. It has three levels that you can increase to, and it is also very useful, but it easy to lose the levels because being attacked by a monster that isn't being engaged instantly sets it back to level one.
The story of the game is decently constructed. You are Wake (or whatever you named your character) and the mark that appears on your hand when you turn a certain age signifies that you are to become a Disciple who fights monsters that spawn from Dusk Circles. The origin on the Dusk Circles is not known, but it so happens that you end up being the only one that can enter them. This is because you are God's Gift, a person with such a high ether count that it allows them to create a survivable area around you within the circles. This is because ether is the power of light, while dusk is the power of darkness.
I don't want to give any spoilers so this is all I can really elaborate on. The story is very entertaining, and takes twists and turns throughout it.
The English Dub
Surprisingly I don't really hate many of the voice performances for this game. There are only two voices that are really annoying. Some of the performances are really good, while others are just laughable. The only big issue I had was with the dialogue that included the words "Tig ol' bit-". I think it is hilarious, but also annoying. It is equally as bad a P4 golden's "Epic Fail" quote.
Well I guess those really are some tig ol' bitties..
This is a very entertaining JRPG that I just haven't been able to set down. I would recommend Conception II to anyone who is a fan of either Atlus or Persona games. Outside of that if you are a fan JRPGs chances are it is still worth your money, but if you aren't a fan of any JRPGs stay far away from this. I really can't wait to see how the game ends, and I'm wondering if you can actually fall in love with one of the heroines. So far it seems you will be able to. As well as there seems to be multiple endings to the game, so there will be some good replay-ability. If you are in a slump because of P4 Golden, I highly recommend picking this up. Hopefully it will tide you over until Persona 5 comes out this next winter.