Every kid dreams of having parents who are superheroes or being one themselves. In Steven Universe’s case, both are true. He is the half-human, half-gem son of an alien named Rose Quartz, leader of the Crystal Gems. To make a long story short, the Crystal Gems protect earth from the bad Gems, and Rose had to give up her gem for Steven to be born. Now The Crystal Gems help Greg (Stevens human dad) raise Steven while teaching him how to use his Gem abilities.
Steven Universe: Save the Light is an action adventure RPG and is the sequel to the 2015 mobile only release Attack the Light. It released to mostly raving reviews with one consistent complaint; it was to short. Developer Grumpy Games must have agreed, pushing the game to about 10 hours and expanding its release to include consoles. There’s just one problem; they seem t have forgotten what made the first game successful: it was fun.
Here’s what I liked:
True to the Show — Steven Universe as a show has a very distinctive personality. Being quirky and funny while still focusing on major topics like love, friendship, and acceptance. Already in its fifth season, Steven has 134 episodes and Save the Light feels like it could be the 135th.
Everyone is here — When a show has been on for several years, there are always a handful of characters you expect to see. You, of course, assume the protagonist, which in this case is Steven and The Crystal Gems (Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet), will be there. Outside of that, you can’t be sure who will appear, although you always hope to see your favorites. Fortunately, developer Grumpy Games did their research and knew characters like Connie (Stevens BFF), Greg (Stevens Dad) and Peridot (Crystal Gem) should be playable. No worries though, plenty of the fan favorites like Onion, Lion and Lars are here. Grumpy Games even went so far as to include some of the more obscure characters like Jamie the Postman and Yellowtail, Onions Dad.
The Puzzles — I’m so glad that these existed in Save the Light. They were probably the only thing that created the slightest bit of a challenge. Puzzles consisted mainly of moving blocks around in one fashion or another to get to the next area. The other type of puzzle was using Gregs’ guitar to play a specific melody to unlock a secret. Most of these puzzles required you to mentally untangle multiple lines so you could follow the right “not path.” Two of Greg’s puzzles had me stumped for quite some time though. They didn’t have you moving things around or following a specific line, they needed an answer that was nowhere near obvious. I don’t want to ruin these so I will just leave it at that.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
The camera — Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, I know all about having a fixed camera and the horrors they can create. And let me tell you, they suck just as much now in 2018 as they did back then. In an era before fully rendered 3D environments and a second analog stick, the fixed camera and its flaws could be forgiven. However, that isn’t the world we live in anymore. Now we have a solution for every issue that ever plagued fixed cameras; none of these tricks were used here. This leads to you disappearing behind a bush or wall and having no clue how to get back from behind it. Even better is when the camera decides you’ve hit the “rotation point” and switches angles. This means forward is no longer forward, leading to multiple deaths from walking off a ledge or changing direction mid-jump and falling.
Broken Achievements — This is a category that after 13 years, I would have thought I wouldn’t have to bring up anymore. I love achievements, they make a crappy game okay and a good game better. So to spend time doing exactly what the description says to do and not getting that soul-soothing ‘blink’ sound to let me know I’ve unlocked it is devastating. This, of course, turns in to tons of time wasted if you’re playing it on release day as you and everyone else is learning they don’t all work. I just don’t (and will never) understand why a company goes through the hassle of putting something in a game if they didn’t take the time to make sure it works.
Too easy — The only time things were challenging was when the camera changed the angle on me, or I chose to limit myself. They even offer a badge that will cut all your teams stats in half, and I still was able to just breeze through everything. The only thing that seemed to make Save the Light challenging was choosing to only use one character and not access Steven’s backpack for items.
Run Away — A constant feature in RPG’s is the ability to run away from a fight. Can’t do that here, you are forced to play each one out to the end. At first, this seems as if though it’s no big deal, battles are spread out, and each one is visible with very few surprise encounters. Since most battles are visible, you don’t end up in too many unwanted battles. At least at first. Once you start exploring every area thoroughly, you find yourself in unwanted fight after unwanted fight; that gets old rather fast. To have the option to attempt to run away would have made the long game here so much less grueling.
When I first started playing Steven Universe: Save the Light I was excited, but quickly that excitement turned to boredom and frustration. Several of your teams’ special moves cause the game to freeze, and about 30% of the map was unreachable as it just wouldn’t load. So when I learned of an update in the works, I became optimistic. I thought, okay, we’ll postpone the review and wait for them to fix the issues. Then the update came, and I couldn’t lie to myself anymore, this game is just not fun. I was ready for the game to be over right around the three-hour marker, which for a game that’s around ten hours long, that’s not good. So if you love Steven Universe and “like, just have to consume everything,” then get your rescue on. For everyone else, there are much better RPG’s for you to spend your money and time.
Score: Limited Appeal
Steven Universe: Save the Light was developed by Grumpy Games and published by Cartoon Network. It was released on November 2, 2017, for $24.99 and can be purchased here. A copy of the game was provided for review purposes.