"Steven Universe: Unleash the Light" Review
What is "Save the Light"?
Steven Universe: Save the Light is an official game following some of our favourite characters from the show Steven Universe. This is the third installment of the series, continuing the story from the previous two.
The game is a platformer that uses classic turn based RPG mechanics. Combat and leveling up requires thought and patience, but isn't so complex that it's hard to understand. The puzzles are challenging, and secrets can be well hidden, but for the most part you won't need a guide to help you get through, just patience. You also have the opportunity to customize your party and individual characters, decking them out with new items and outfits as the game progresses.
The tone of the game very much feels like the show. It's humorous, warm, and about a boy who uses his head and his words instead of violence as much as he can. Fans of the show will find familiarity with the characters and world, and enjoy the expansion of the lore.
This game is a continuation from Attack the Light and Save the Light, but you don't need to have played either in order to play this game. Having some context is definitely good, however, as there are a few characters who return in this game that are introduced in Save the Light that return in this one.
The series follows Steven and the Crystal Gems (as well as some other friends) as they investigate an item known as a 'Light Prism' which is creating hostile formations of light. In the second game, this prism is being manipulated by a powerful gem known as Hessonite. In the canon ending of Save the Light, Steven befriends the prism and Hessonite leaves Earth having learned a valuable lesson.
Entering Era 3, Steven discovers that not every gem wants to give up their world conquering ways. Steven hears of two gems using other prisms to create armies of light, and sets off to attempt to talk them down.
The story follows both the game and the show well, and feels very true to the nature of the overarching world Rebecca Sugar has created. It gives excellent insight into what was happening between the finale of the original show and the movie. While there's not anything in the story particularly game changing or incredible, but it builds on characters and a world that many have grown to love.
It wouldn't be a Steven Universe game without the classic Crystal Gems. As with the previous games, Steven is joined by Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl. However, this game sees two new character options for your party; Lapis and Bismuth.
The addition of Lapis and Bismuth is exciting for many, as Lapis was teased in the second game but never made available to play. Bismuth also plays a major role in the plot of Unleash the Light, which is good to see as we don't have too much Bismuth content. Both of them are true to their characters, and if you enjoy them in the show, you're sure to love what they bring to the game.
Disappointingly, the likes of Greg, Connie and Peridot—all of whom were available in Save the Light—are not in this game. Instead of expanding the cast for this game, it's been reworked. Thankfully for any Peridot fans, there are a lot of nods to her character as you visit a planet inhabited by similar gems.
This game takes what the previous games had, and builds on it. A lot of features are the same, some are better, and some are entirely new. Here's a breakdown on some of the features:
The two previous games used different systems for turns. The first was simple; alternating between your team and the enemies in a classic turn based system. The second switched things up so that it was a combination of real time and turn based. With this game, we go back to the simple ways of the first game.
A welcomed new feature in this game is the ability to swap two character's positions once per turn (twice with an item). This adds another layer of strategy to the game, and can make you feel a bit more in control. Nothing sucked more in the previous games than being stuck with bad positioning for your party.
Arrangement in general has been much more formulated. Your four characters always stand in a diamond shape, one on top and bottom lanes and two in the middle. Either they will be in the middle of two sides of enemies, or all on one side, unlike the scrambled formations that can happen in Save the Light.
Badges and Charms
Badges are a staple of the series, and remain the same in function with this new game. Additionally, you can now acquire charms, items that hold significance to a character that give stat boosts. They come with varying rarities, and add a new fun dimension to the game.
This mechanic has taken elements of both the first and second game and turned it into something entirely new. On your character pages, you are given two different trees you can progress down (note that you can mix and match from both), with each consecutive ability costing one more point than the last. Each tree has two rows of options. While that may not seem like much, it offers a lot more customization than the previous games.
Instead of upgrading weapons, you can now upgrade outfits. This works in the same way as weapons did in the previous game, but you can only choose one of two boosts, not both. On the bright side, they also act as skins. You can also mix and match, taking the ability of one and the look of another.
This is the area which the game seems to be lacking most. Team ups are gone, and instead have been replaced with a full team bar which can fill up. When the bar is full, you can choose between a few things; a full party heal, a Rose's shield or one of two fusions.
Yes, sadly there are only two fusions in this game; Sunstone and Rainbow Quartz 2.0. While both characters are a lot of fun, the fact that previously used fusions aren't an option is disappointing.
Is it worth buying?
While this game may be lacking in some areas and short compared to the second game in the series, it's definitely worth trying if you're a fan of Steven Universe and enjoy RPGs.
At the moment, Unleash the Light is only available on Apple Arcade, a subscription based Apple service. It's not expensive at all, and for the price of one month is absolutely worth the money.