We analyze the remastering of the first installment of Conception, an unpublished title in the west of this title originally appeared in Japan for PSP.
In 2012 the first installment of the Conception series for PlayStation Portable was released in Japanese territory, a curious title that would have good acceptance among the Japanese public, to the point that a year later its sequel would come out, Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars, for PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS. The latter would be the only title of this series that we have seen in the West to date, which reached our borders in 2014, in addition to later leaving for PC two years later. Later, the series saw its adaptation to the animated series at the end of last year as an appetizer prior to the remastering of the original game earlier this year. Today this version arrives in western territories to offer us the opportunity to prove, finally, the original title of this saga that had been unpublished to date.
The game's story introduces Itsuki Yaiga, although the game allows her name and other additional aspects to be changed before she starts playing, who receives a message from her childhood friend and companion Mahiru Konatsuki to meet her on the roof of the Institute. There she tells him that she seems to have the symptoms of being pregnant after which, before she can continue the conversation, they are transported to another world through a portal that appears in the sky, taking them inside a dungeon where they are attacked by a strange creature that sprouts from inside Mahiru and that Itsuki defeats using a mysterious power that awakens and confers the power to use weapons.
Later both go abroad and are rescued by Mana and Narcissus, who transport them to the kingdom of Granvania. There Itsuki, is informed of the situation of the kingdom, which is in danger of being destroyed by the proliferation of impurities, monstrous dark beings that proliferate in the dungeons where they appeared, called Stardust Labyrinths, and that both Itsuki and Mahiru have the power to save the world, being the first considered the Gift of God (God's Gift), having engraved in his body each of the twelve zodiac signs, and the second one of the twelve Star Maidens, specifically that of the sign of Virgo. Along with the remains of maidens, Itsuki must fight in the different labyrinths against the different chiefs that populate them trying to restore the seals that are in each one of them to definitively eliminate the empires that threaten the citizens of Granvania and save the world .
The development of the game takes place in time periods of weeks corresponding to each month of the year. Throughout each of these periods, Itsuki will have to relate and improve its emotional bond with each of the twelve Star Maidens, whose power is given by each of the zodiacal symbols, to subsequently perform the Classmating ritual with each of them and lead to the birth of the Star Children, childlike warriors who possess the power to fight in the Stardust Labyrinths to eliminate impure creatures and other monsters that have filled the place. Itsuki's ultimate goal is to venture into these labyrinths to defeat each of the bosses and offer an offering that renews the damaged seals that protect Granvania.
Each of the mazes of the game refers to the four seasons of the year (spring, summer, autumn and winter), being affected in turn by the season in which the game is at that time, resulting in an increase in the amount of impurities and with greater power. The depth of each labyrinth comprises five-story blocks, each having two initial entry blocks, including the first one a special enemy, and three additional ones with a boss in each of them. Each floor is composed of several rooms connected by corridors whose mapping design is randomized each time you enter each of them. In each room there will be several types of enemies to fight against and that will provide experience points when facing them, while the halls will serve as a connection point to the other rooms, being able to find some aids such as life restoration points, magic, healing of altered states or even BP points (Bond Points), rockoles that will be used to buy objects, offering points of objects to get new ones and also traps, which will be added as you move through each floor to greater depth. It is possible to say that the traps can be seen with the naked eye, like a floor where skewers appear, like others that are activated without warning, either through an explosive chest, a chest with monsters or an avalanche of stones that will subtract a part of the Allies' life points among other additional ways. In certain cases, it is possible to find sealed doors that will require a certain level of the lucky stat to be able to open them and access at the same time that there will be special rooms, which have a totally different design from the rest of the rooms, which allow to obtain specific advantages which will be effective while staying on the current floor.
In the first instance Itsuki can only carry a group of up to four Star Children, but through performing the Classmating ritual you can have a maximum of three groups to accompany you on your journey to the labyrinths, which makes a total of twelve total companions. In combat this translates into having to control, in a turn-based combat system, each of the Star Children groups in addition to Itsuki to defeat the enemies on the battlefield. The combat system offers a certain tactical touch where each unit can move to attack the enemies in a directional way, denoting the attack with an arrow towards the target. This will change color to pink indicating the enemy's weaknesses, which will result in additional damage. Each allied unit can use different commands in each turn including normal attacks, techniques, objects, use of tactics (to configure how each group will fight when activating automatic combat), combat data (to see the information of the enemies), defend, Mecunite and escape. The Mecunite option can only be used for Star Children groups and its use requires an expense of BP points to be able to use this command, whose use allows to merge the members of the group to result in a kind of armed robot with different characteristics and attacks which vary each time it is used, being a fairly powerful option against the heads of each maze. The limitation of this option is that it can only be used in a group in combat.
In order to conceive powerful Star Children it will be necessary for Itsuki to perform the Classmating ritual with each of the twelve Star Maiden of the game, which represent each of the zodiac signs, previously having to increase their level of affection with each of them through specific events for each of them. Each week will fill a special bar below the current time, month and week, with five hearts, which denote the times Itsuki can interact with the Star Maiden in the Academy option, being able to select between them through a menu. The events are varied, offering backgrounds of the personality and history of each of them, denotable for being completely bent, and others of lighter interaction and of less duration. Sometimes different options will be offered as a response, one option that will increase the level of affection to a greater extent, another neutral and finally that will impact negatively, plus an additional one that will allow offering a gift, which can be obtained in the chests of the dungeons or in a special store that is unlocked advancing in the game and that, depending on it, it is possible to see how it is worn on certain occasions. After each successful interaction the level of affinity will increase, denoted by a smiling emoticon and the gradual increase in the level of a bar that will be around it. Otherwise the emoticon will change to a less favorable state and that will make the interaction difficult to perform the Classmating. In total, each Star Maiden has five levels of affinity, which will gradually be unlocked through the different events and the performance of the ritual. It should be noted that the time period will affect each Star Maiden, so that the events with certain Star Maiden, highlighted by their shining sign, will fill in the affinity bar more and more BP points (Bond Points) will also be awarded.
This ritual is carried out through the option of church (Church) of the menu and in it, apart from selecting between each of the available maidens, it will be necessary to take into account the amount of BP points and also the option of using Matryoshkas with properties special. In principle you can use a normal type with infinite units but without special properties, however you can obtain others of different types through the chests or performing missions, which can affect specific parameters (such as increasing attack, defense, luck, etc.), imbue in one type of element or another that offers a general boost of all stats. Each initial interaction with each maiden will be accompanied by two events before and after the ritual that will also offer interaction options that will result in the improvement in the level of affinity of the character. Once a maiden is chosen, a video sequence will be shown with insinuating dyes of the situation but without major significance. There is also the possibility that the result are twins, something highlighted with a special icon for some of the maidens, resulting in the birth of two Star Children to which with different stats and to which the same or different classes can be assigned. Finally, each resulting child will be accompanied by an additional advantage at birth that can be an amount of money, a percentage of discount in BP points or an increase in the level of affinity with one of the maids, either the one that has generated or another different.
The gender of the resulting child will be chosen randomly next to the predefined stats of the same but being able to decide the class to which it will belong. However, this choice will be conditioned by the level of stats, which if they do not reach the necessary requirements to select a desired class, cannot be chosen, with selectable options being selected with each name highlighted in white and those not available in gray , in addition to displaying an icon when viewed. In the first instance there will only be seven classes available at the start, which include basic roles such as fighter, thief, monk, cleric, magician, archer and merchant but as the game progresses and certain objectives are completed, additional ones may be unlocked. power and new skills that will facilitate the journeys through the labyrinths to complete a total of nineteen classes. Once advanced in the game, and fulfilling a series of prerequisites, you can use the Trimate option when performing the Classmating ritual, being able to select two Star Maidens at the same time so that the effects are stronger and generate children most powerful in combat. Denote, in turn, that it is possible that when performing the ritual will result in a special Star Children with capacity to reach the maximum level, which will be denoted both by a special icon next to your class, your portrait in the group of combat and also when entering the labyrinths.
Also the level of affinity will affect the initial level of the Star Children, which will result in very low levels when starting to play, increasing progressively at the same time as the level of affinity with the Star Maiden. Once they reach the maximum level, they cannot improve any more, being able to grant them independence at that point, through the options at the inn, to free them and live freely. This will cause that, on the one hand, the equipment that it will carry at this time will be free while, on the other, it will affect the level of the city of Granvania which will cause the emergence of new additional options such as a training ground for the Star Children, the possibility of sending some to look for objects to the different labyrinths (Scavenger) or a shop where to buy gifts for the Star Maiden.
Other available options offered by the game are the shop and the tavern. In the first one you can buy equipment and objects for both Itsuki and the Star Children, although in a limited way. In order for new elements to be added to the purchase options, each of the maze bosses must be defeated. As for the second, Farun, the Star Maiden of the Capricorn sign, will be responsible for administering secondary missions, although they will not have to be selected but simply meet the proposed requirements and subsequently review the option to complete them and receive the reward. These missions include different objectives such as gathering a number of objects, one in particular or defeating an enemy or boss and allow to receive in return objects of different kinds, such as equipment, healing objects or Matryoshkas.
Among the options offered by the game is the Database option, which includes complete information on different aspects of the game, both visualize 3D models, poses and voice samples of the different characters, see the unlocked Star Children classes as well as the different types of Mecunite, monsters and other elements. This option is available from the beginning of the game in the main menu and during the game, in the Inn option (inn), with the difference that in the first case you will have to load the game data to recognize the unlocked content. On the other hand, some of the contents, such as the voice samples of the maidens, will require special conditions to unlock them.
Entering playable matter, it should be said that the game is entertaining first by learning the basics of combat and defeating enemies to advance on each floor of each maze. The combat system is simple and without much mystery, basically having to exploit the weak points of the enemies using basic attacks or special techniques with each of the attack groups. The exploration of each level of the labyrinths, on the other hand, is somewhat load-bearing in the long run since the difficulty grows progressively making things difficult and making it more difficult to reach the bosses or even defeat them. As for Classmating, it gives the feeling of being a system similar to the popular mobile games but it is an interesting system in practice both looking for different results and strengthening the Star Children and to unlock the additional hidden classes that offer different advantages. For the rest, the game is developed through novel visual cut scenes with animated 2D style designs or with 3D modeling of each of the Star Maiden both for the development of the plot and the different events, respectively.
Regarding the sound section, it should be said that the selection of melodies offered by the game is very varied with techno-cut themes for some phases of combat such as others with touches of more calm or rock-style cut for some of the relationship events. The presence of these compositions is notorious when playing, although not all tracks stand out. In general, the result in this aspect is remarkable. On the other hand, the game offers the option of playing with dubbing in English or Japanese.
As for the online options, the game does not offer multiplayer, obviously, but it does include an option that allows Star Children to be recruited from other players who have become independent, through the activation of the connectivity option before starting to Play, and take them to combat.
Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars is, for practical purposes, an interesting proposal within the genre, both for its peculiar premise and for the development of its plot, the variety of characters it offers and also its evolution throughout the game a through the different events, to which we must add its soundtrack that offers some striking themes and that stand out at certain times. However, its great problem is its development, especially as regards the journeys through the labyrinths that eventually end up being somewhat tedious by offering little variety in their development and during the fighting.
- The plot is gaining interest as the game progresses.
- Cast of varied characters, resulting in a compendium of different personalities and different backgrounds that are endearing.
- Musical section with tracks that offer varied styles.
- Texts in English.
- In the long run, the journeys through the different labyrinths end up becoming monotonous.
It meets the expectations of what a good game is, it has quality and does not present serious failures, although it lacks elements that could have led to higher levels.