For those who don’t know, I’m a huge fan of Steven Universe. The series is one of the most enjoyable modern cartoons on tele today, and Steven Universe: Save the Light is a wonderful adaptation of the source material. It’s got similar charm to the show, addictive gameplay, and even the official voice acting. The game does fall short in on few aspect, but does it stick the landing?
Steven Universe: Save the Light gives us Steven and the crystal gems on an adventure to save their light prism friend from a new home world gem. This new gem called Hessonite is the only new gem introduced in the game. The only other gems present are the Crystal Gems and Lapis. I’m not counting her as one, because she isn’t playable. Both Greg and Connie are also along for the ride, and even Lion plays a part. The story takes place somewhere before Lars goes to space, so the townsfolk are all represented the way they were at that time. They are also all accounted for, from Mayor Dewey to Sour Cream, even Jamie is here. They’ve all got their personalities from the show too and some even have voices. Among the towns folk, Onion plays a special role. He acts as a supply shop in the levels, carrying three random consumables at a time. Ronaldo also has a similar setup in town, though his items are more rare.
Each character looks the part thanks to the use of a cute simple style. The developers use this to great effect with more simplified details and no outlines. By use of flat bright coloured textures they were able to capture the look of the show while not being too taxing on the hardware. Every artifact including the characters and environment are represented as these 2D textures similar to the Paper Mario games. In fact the game shares a lot with those games.
The gameplay in Steven Universe: Save the light consists of exploring 2D environments modeled after beach city, some other familiar locations, and some new ones. The locations all look like cardboard cutouts, and the characters all do too. Even Steven and the Crystal gems have this same effect. The camera is fixed, only changing perspective when the player characters are at the edge of the frame. These characters each have a front and back, but no sides, again, they’re like cardboard cutouts.
Players can explore each area to find collectables or consumables. These Items are sometimes well hidden, but you’ll always know how many you need to find in a given area thanks to the warp pad HUD. In each area there are also enemies, and these enemies will attack once you enter their field of vision. It is also possible to attack them before they see you or run away. Attacking first gives you an advantage in battle. These battles rely on a timed turn based system similar to, you guessed it, Paper Mario.
Once a move is chosen on the selection wheel a star appears under the target. This star begins large and yellow, then shrinks to a smaller purple star. By timing a second button press when the star is purple, the players is able to gain extra damage and sometimes lucky abilities. These abilities can be anything from healing to an extra attack. Each character has their own unique moves and traits which can be further enhanced by use of badges. They all level up, gaining new moves and dealing more damage, but you can only have 4 of them in battle. Altering your party can only be done at a warp pad, and those not use don’t gain XP.
If a member of your party falls in battle they poof if they’re gems or go down on their knees if they’re human. When downed, characters slowly recover then stand again with a small amount of health. Steven and Greg can both heal other characters, and Steven’s cheeseburger backpack also carries healing items. After using an item there is a cool down period before you can use another. This adds a certain amount of strategy to play when used in tandem with the game’s other systems.
Now though the game is beautiful, and fun it does however have its shortcomings. One of the biggest shortcomings is the lack of music, and when I say that I mean the the type of music we get from the show. Rebecca Sugar is known for her beautiful writing that bleeds into the music in the show. Each of the voice actors have beautiful voices and she has stated in interviews that they look for people who can sing when choosing voice talent for the show. With this knowledge it’s surprising that they didn’t think to use that talent in the game.
The game also has some game breaking bugs. Thankfully they’re easily fixed by a simple reset. These usually come in the form of characters getting stuck in an animation during battle. I’m not sure what causes it, but it seems to be a limitation of the switch’s hardware that causes it to happen. Why I say that is because there is usually a short stutter before it happens. When it does, you’ll need to press the + button then select save and quite. When you reload your save you’ll resporn by a warp pad with all your stats intact. This may result in a little backtracking but it’s not too bad a bug.
Gotta Fill my backpack
Steven Universe: Save the Light is also a short RPG adventure. You can complete this game in a short amount of time with very little effort. Bosses do offer a challenge, but working the systems will get you a win every time. Even playing the game the way I usually play RPGs got me 20 hrs. This may be a perk to some, while others may be turned off by it. For me I was happy with my experience, though I wish I could spend a bit more time in this world. There’s not really much to do in the town, and it lacks enough gem cameos. I wish there were more side quest and more stages, but most of all more time with the game.
(Sing ending) If I could recommend a game to play, it’d be some like Steven Universe Save The Light. It’s a game that offers what the fans will like, and even manages to scratch that RPG itch. It’s true… Oo-oo-oh (X3). Despite its flaws it still has all the charm in the world, and the only thing we really wanted was more… Of it. Its true… Oo-oo-oh (X3).
The copy of Steven Universe: Save the Light used for this review was provided to us by its publisher, Cartoon Network.
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