The magical world of Aterra is troubled. After Dusk Circles began appearing twenty years ago, monsters are emerging from the labyrinths that they hide to threaten the existence of the world’s population.
Reliant on the blessings of their Star God, a prophecy foretells that teenagers with large amounts of Star Energy would be bestowed with his brand. These chosen few are able to harness magic in combatting creatures born from Dusk, and so, once the mark appears, are immediately gathered at Aterra Academy where they are trained to become righteous Disciples. Yet utilising Star Energy relies on the existence of Ether, and this element has been surpassed in quantity by Dusk causing the world to become imbalanced.
With hope depleted as humanity’s fight for survival becomes increasingly severe, it is when protagonist Wake Archus receives the Star God’s mark after the death of his sister that the Aterran people can turn the tide. Revealed as being “God’s Gift,” a Disciple with the highest Ether Count that has ever been recorded, he can fight his way through the labyrinths formed by Dusk Circles by creating an Ether field around himself.
It is Spike Chunsoft’s spin on the eternal light versus dark conflict, with plenty of Japanese quirk muddled in. For Wake won’t fight alone, being encouraged by the Church to “classmate” with female Disciples at Aterra Academy. This holy ritual can result in a Star Conception, a male’s Ether and the female’s Star Energy entwined with bonds and poured into the Star Womb, Russian doll-like items known as Matryoshka.
You’re encouraged to “classmate” early on, much to your newfound friend Fuuko’s embarrassment, although this acts as a central mechanic throughout Children of the Seven Stars. As the name implies, and with innuendo evident at every turn, successful “classmating” will result in the creation of holy children – warrior spirits whose sole purpose is to fight monsters.
As the God’s Gift, there is a high conception between Wake and any S Rank Disciples that he crosses paths with at Aterra Academy. Which is clear by the fact that you create triplets on your first go. Players will have to ensure that they socially interact with the game’s heroines as their mood and intimacy towards you affects the status and class of the created Star Child. These are often humorous encounters even if riddled with perversion, with seven female characters to direct your undivided attention toward.
Your Star Children can be assigned to one of 24 classes at birth, all lending their own strength to your party whether that be healing, excelling at ranged attacks, or negating damage. When trekking into any of the multi-tiered labyrinths that you will be required to fight through, these Star Children must be grouped in threes to join you and your chosen heroine in battle.
Battle encounters themselves see you position your party at any of four points that surround the enemy that you’re facing, employing attacks and skills to take them down. You will look for weak points, usually from behind, to deal most damage, whilst being required to move out of “Caution” areas when your foe looks to retaliate with a mighty attack. These labyrinthine dungeons will be largely familiar by concept to those that have played Shin Megami Tensei, Persona or similar games in the genre. The player moving between room-to-room tackling enemies as they search for the Goal Portal that will take them to the next floor, eventually leading to a trickier boss fight. The pace of such encounters is fast enough that you will never tire of the experience, even if employing the same tactics can carry you through most fights.
While there isn’t much visual variety between the game’s labyrinths, each being named after the seven deadly sins, these combat scenarios are in stark contrast to the heavily text-driven Aterra Academy portions. When resting from the toils of neutralising Dusk creatures, you can enjoy the facilities that Fort City has to offer. Whether that be accepting quests at the Research Facility, buying gifts to woo a heroine, or leaving your Star Children at the Day Camp to earn experience despite not being used in battle, there’s plenty to distract you. Fort City will also level up over time, granting access to more facilities and items for purchase.
Having also seen release on PlayStation Vita, while the 3DS has no comparable trophy system Spike Chunsoft have still included these as in-game achievements – helping to objectify the experience for those looking for additional challenge. Players can also try Blindmating or Classmanting with another player locally to create more powerful Star Children.
Conception II: Children of the Seven Stars is an enjoyable take on the roleplaying genre, showering genre veterans with plenty of new ideas while remaining approachable for all.