‘Steven Universe: Save the Light’ has all of the show’s charm
Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe practically begs for the role-playing-game treatment, with its deep lore, unique characters and gorgeous hand-drawn art style. The show got its first video-game treatment a few years ago with the mobile game Steven Universe: Attack the Light. Now that game’s sequel, Save the Light, is finally giving the show’s fans the full-fledged RPG they’ve been waiting for. And after playing it for a bit at E3, I think they have plenty of reasons to be excited.
For one, the game simply looks amazing, with all the bright colors you’d expect from Steven Universe. It’s not an exact re-creation of the show because the world is rendered in 3D instead of hand-drawn 2D animation. But it still manages to make you feel like you’re walking through familiar environments from the series. The characters are also polygonal and don’t have as much detail as their traditionally animated versions. But at least the flat style they’re presented in — similar to Nintendo’s Paper Mario games — seems reminiscent of a 2D cartoon.
The game starts off by asking you to pick one of the Crystal Gems — the group of superpowered aliens mentoring and caring for Steven — for your party. I chose Garnet, and she was joined by Steven himself, his sword-wielding best friend Connie and his father, Greg Universe. Our quest: To figure out what happened to the Prism, the villain from the first game. And yes, you should probably play Attack the Light to keep track of what’s going on. Rebecca Sugar, the creator of Steven Universe, was also involved with the development of the game, so it could eventually tie into events in the series.
This time around, developer GrumpyFace Studios implemented a more fully-realized battle system that’s reminiscent of Final Fantasy’s Active Time Battle method. Your actions are determined by a star meter, which slowly builds up over time. All the while, enemies can also attack you. You also have a chance at inflicting more damage or defending yourself, by hitting the action button during attacks. That’s yet another aspect that’s reminiscent of Nintendo’s Paper Mario games — it’s not a battle system where you just want to blindly hit the attack button.
There’s a definite strategy to every fight becaise every character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Just like in the mobile game, Steven plays more of a support role, while Connie and the Gems are on offense. Greg Universe is basically a band, playing songs that can heal the team or help in other ways (yes, the songs affect the game’s soundtrack). There’s also a major emphasis on characters working together and building their relationships, one of the show’s major themes. During a boss battle, Steven and Connie were so simpatico they fused into their more powerful form, Stevonnie.
The big takeaway from my short play session with Save the Light: Steven Universe is that fans will be pleased. But it also feels like a solid RPG that will also entice people who aren’t familiar with the series. You’ll be able to play Save the Light this fall on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
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