Review: Jin Conception
By: Fernando Da Costa
Publisher: Jin Wave Studio LLC
Developer: Jin Wave Studio LLC
Available on: PC, Nintendo Switch
The JRPG genre has always been integral to my childhood. I have memories of watching my dad play classics and helping with any of the puzzles. The stories enchanted me, and the imaginative locales filled me with wonder and awe. Tales of Goddesses and an Ancient Evil always had me at the edge of my seat. I owe a lot to this genre as it helped guide me through a turbulent time. Then, when I saw Jin Conception randomly on Twitter, It stole my heart. The premise of it had immediately grabbed me - it’s a social deduction JRPG. Furthermore, it boasts a striking resemblance to a notable SNES classic - Chrono Trigger. I didn’t hesitate to don my professional hat and humbly request this game. I’ve had it a few days now, and I have a few thoughts - I have a lot of thoughts, actually. As I sat there determining whom amongst my party was a bit suspicious and battling plant monsters, a question remained - is Jin Conception good? Strap in, boys and girls; this is going to be a rough one!
In Jin Conception, you’ll be learning the truth of what happened to a woman named Daisy. You’ll play Levi, a young boy that wants to clear a man last seen with the alleged victim. Your quest has you venturing to the various locales scattered throughout, meeting many potential suspects. Venture through forests, temples, fairy cities, and much more as you combat the multitude of monsters lurking in the shadows. As the options trickle down to a few, who do you condemn? Was Daisy really killed, or is there a much bigger conspiracy?
Nothing is for certain except for one thing - whoever it is, you’re familiar and are friends with them.
The story is, frankly put, an utter disaster. It lacks guidance, structure and moves at breakneck speed. The pacing’s atrocious and never allowed me to invest in the many characters. By the end of my play session, I came to one conclusion - Jin Conception is quite respectful of your time but sacrifices substance to do it. The game had no actual interest in creating a lived-in world and wanted to fast forward the story. None of the characters were fleshed out, and attempts at backstories were flimsy or non-existent. I’m disappointed in the complete reluctance to personify bunches of data into a believable person.
The dialogue doesn’t fare any better, feeling robotic and stiff. It doesn’t make use of the many nuances of the English language, such as abbreviations. Jin Conception says every syllable to its own detriment. Doing it in this way made sure I never immersed myself in this universe, and that’s a shame. There’s a world of potential just waiting to be tapped into and unearthed. The game, however, is actively fighting itself to be forgettable and dull. It isn’t just abnormal text that hinders it but also the absence of any soul - this is the biggest cause of frustration. It is lifeless and made me skip the haphazard lore, which isn’t something I’m known for when I play a JRPG. I’m delighted to read an engrossing story to uncover its intricacies. With this narrative, I dreaded it because I knew that it was just a waste of time.
Finally, character relationships exist but are also hollow. I’m fine if I meet a new NPC with an established rapport with a party member. That’s a common tool utilized in JRPGs, but it only works if details follow - proclaim the past they shared. I could deal with soulless conversations if there’s an attempt to flesh out the individuals that make up my group. Unfortunately, Jin Conception seems reluctant to do so and has an odd mentality that story speed encompasses a strong and fun journey. I’m a broken record at this point, but it’s clear more time was needed. There’s an obvious lack of polish that it’s in dire need of. I’m enamoured by the mystery mechanic and having to determine who is friend or foe. Unfortunately, just the concept isn’t enough for a fascinating game, and currently, that’s all Jin Conception is - just a concept with no essence.
Regrettably, Jin Conception’s shortcomings persist well into the gameplay. On a positive note, though, the controls were moderately responsive. The left joystick, however, had a habit of overshooting when selecting choices. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from here. The foundation of what constitutes a firm JRPG experience is intact, but what Jin Conception struggles with is building a sturdy, cohesive structure.
First, the combat system is classic ATB - or in other words, Active Time Battle. To attack, a line has to completely fill, and once it does, you’re able to select your attacks and react. This feature gave me such a nostalgia blast, making me feel warm inside. I smiled like an absolute dork as I’d reminisce about Super Nintendo. This sounds lovely, but it quickly crumbles thanks to a sole factor - balance. It’s absurdly off-kilter, rendering my healing redundant because I lost far more than I’d gain. Party wipes happened frequently due to failing at keeping up with the demand. It made survival luck-based as opposed to being reliant on skill. Several of the battles were only won because enemy AI had mercy on me.
Secondly, Jin Conception encourages you to grind but disincentivizes it at the same time. No one can learn new abilities, with all of them available from the start. One reason I dedicate an hour to battles exclusively is to get stronger and learn skills. If I’m stuck, it’s possible a technique can turn the tide and defeat the enemy. That isn’t possible with this game; all the available tools are there from the beginning. If I can’t progress, my only other choice is to increase my strength. Thankfully, gaining levels isn’t difficult and happens at a generous rate. The process, however, is so incredibly tedious; that is if I even survive. To top it off, I had to obsessively save.
Thirdly, equipment is quite expensive, as are healing items. Any cash earned after battles is minuscule at best, meaning it’s impossible to afford both - I had to either choose one or the other. I’d typically decide on armaments because healing spells are adequate enough to act as restoration. Or so one would think, but Jin Conception won’t, for some baffling reason, allow you to utilize Cure outside of combat. What’s most confusing is I’d often come by items that restored magical points. I was front-loaded with ways to harness my healing spells, and yet, Jin Conception still locked it behind battles. Using Cure is a staple by this point, dating back to the SNES era, so to not include it here to artificially provide some difficulty is both asinine and ridiculous. Furthermore, if I could even buy new armour or weapons, the terrible balance can and will still kill me. To make matters worse, items rarely drop after an encounter, so I have to either pony up cash or get nothing. I was unmotivated to go on and wanted to quit altogether. It isn’t entertaining to watch Jin Conception trip over itself so regularly.
Lastly, one facet that’s a genuinely fun idea is that some spells have conditions to inflict increased damage. For instance, if an enemy is below fifty percent health, the output will be doubled. It’s straightforward until we get to a particular criterion that ironically asks for an unbalanced foe. However, I never quite understood what constitutes as such because Jin Conception never explains it, nor does it hint at how to achieve this status effect. I’m left to my own devices, aimlessly attempting to trigger it but to no avail. There’s a failure to communicate with the player, resulting in trial and error until the sweet embrace of death takes us. While we’re on the topic of skills staying unused, like Chrono Trigger, there are duo techniques. I played for about ten to fifteen hours, and in that time, I executed one. The culprit was - not to sound like the broken record this review has made me - the inadequate balance. One-half of the users needed kept on dying, rendering that ability void.
For a game that delivers retro graphics, I was hoping to deliver good news. While I can say that I noticed no stutters or outright freezes, I did suffer crashes. In my entire session, I suffered just a single one, but the cause of it is unknown. I wasn’t putting it through its paces or throwing it amidst strenuous activity. Fortunately, Jin Conception has a universal save point, meaning it can be done anyway. If you’re a chronic user, the progress you lose won’t be substantial.
It’s telling that I had to wait until I got here to spread positivity. Nevertheless, I didn’t mind the music at all. It was utterly reminiscent of the good days of the SNES. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the tracks are iconic or will stand among the best, but it’s passable chip-tune goodness. The sound effects are decent, but I heard a few familiar ones in the mix. It makes me wonder if perhaps they’re from a database of some sort.
Jin Conception could be a love letter to the SNES golden era. There are solid ideas, but the execution was lacklustre. The game never grabbed my attention, and if anything, it only made me want to move on. There’s an abundant absence of focus, and its ideas feel like they were haphazardly thrown in without thought. The ambition is evident, but unfortunately, it came at the price of cohesion and polish. The writing is atrocious, devoid of soul, charm, and substance in general. Playing this game felt like a chore, and that was deflating as I had high hopes. Furthermore, I don’t understand the need to make such simple commands so convoluted.
I can’t recommend Jin Conception in the current state, and I’d go so far as to say avoid it. The quality of it is poor, reducing it to nothing more than a game that exists.
Thank you to Jin Wave Studio LLC for providing the code for this review.