Wow, some games really go out of their way to make you hate them straight away. I expected at least a silver trophy for getting through the opening narratives in Conception II without breaking the "x" button. The whole point of which was basically describing the odd mix of genres and elements within the game, but as if trying to teach a four-year old.
To summarise, there's a no-sex dating/mating game, a suspiciously Persona-like RPG dungeon crawler and a barrel full of annoying characters. If you get through that lot, then welcome to Conception. As "God's Gift" you're a power-packing newbie at the Academy, in a world where demonic dusk circles (portals) are letting the nasties lose into this green and pleasant world.
However, you can't defeat them on your own. Instead you need the special powers of your progeny, the star children, which you can only raise through "classmating" with suitable girls who are also in this special program. Once you mate, by some miracle, out pop some combat-ready sprogs, and you and the family can march off to war in a dumpy looking craft.
In between breeding and bashing, there's room for shopping for extras, training to build up your skills and endless awkward social banter. If you focus on the combat then you quickly get used to attacking from an enemy's weak side, chaining attacks to do more damage and using skill or special attacks against the right type of enemy to inflict maximum damage.
If you're the kind of person who goes into the costume browser just to see the ladies' jiggly bits jiggling, (Narika wins!) then you might enjoy the dating part of the game, trying to please the girls with the right answer or gift at the right time. For anyone just wanting to play a monster-bashing role-player, then its a bit of a chore to wade through, but since it replaces the traditional character hiring mechanic, you're stuck with it.
There's some paid and some free DLC including a weapons pack to go along with the game, to keep things ticking along, but while Conception is a little more advanced than Demon Gaze, I keep going back to DG because its just more fun and less annoying. That's not to say Conception II is without merit, its a bright-looking, almost perky, game with a certain energy to it.
Just before you discard any idea of buying this game, while it lacks most of Persona's refinement, and the dumb, simple, fun of Demon Gaze; once you get into the skills, traits and nuances of the battle system, there is a decent turn-based RPG combat system behind all the silliness.
Its not too grind-heavy, and what starts out as bleeding-obvious "always-attack-from-behind" concepts become more subtle as party skills and the demons develop into more rounded opposition. If only it didn't take so long to get going. Feel free to add an extra point if you think you can cope. If it had started off as a straight RPG, then added the mating segments later on I'd probably get on better with it, but its currently a bottom row game on my memory card while other games grab more of my attention.
Price: £31.99 (PSN)
Progress: easy yet pained