E3 2017: Hands-On with Steven Universe: Save the Light

Building upon its first game, the Steven Universe franchise is making the jump to consoles with deeper mechanics and more of what fans of the show love, the characters.

At its core Save the Light is a turn based role playing game set in the Steven Universe… universe(?). Developed by Grumpyface Studios in cooperation with series creator Rebecca Sugar, the world of Steven Universe comes to life with the style and writing the show is known for and some fun old school RPG mechanics.

Steven Universe: Save the Light is the continuation of Steven Universe: Attack the Light with Steven and the Crystal Gems having to protect the Prism from Attack the Light from a new enemy. The story is canonical with the show, but very much a side story meaning it is unlikely the story from the game will bleed into the show though it will directly reference elements from the series.

The gameplay is mostly the same from the mobile game, it’s turn based and you have a party of four characters each of which have different abilities based on their personality. You are limited by action points that build up over time and the combat in the demo I played was pretty simple. Every attack is done automatically when chosen and there is a bonus for nailing a one button QTE.

Save the Light will have new playable characters like Greg (Steven’s father) and Connie. Connie’s inclusion was something fans of the first game demanded and she wasn’t available because up until that point she was not a trained fighter in the show. This all changed of course in season two when Connie began training to fight with Pearl which then opened the door for Connie to be a playable character.

Greg, on the other hand, is not a fighter in the show or here, instead he plays up to his character’s musical talents and becomes a bard of sorts. Greg, when slotted into your party of four, will play music which then acts as a buff for your team. It’s a nice way of including everyone’s favorite cartoon father and I was really happy with how they worked him into a playable character.

Fusions return in a bigger fashion, with more fusions promised this time around including Stevonnie (Steven and Connie’s fusion). In order to get a fusion though, the characters need to build their relationships by working together during battles and dialogue interactions. Building relationships seemed easy enough from the demo, characters that buff or heal each other will slowly build up their relationship and eventually, they will be able to combine into a fusion. The game will be restricted to fusions we have already seen, but the inclusion of Stevonnie is huge as they are definitely something fans of the show will be thrilled to play as.

Other aspects I picked up from my short time with the demo was how much effort went into recreating the town of Beach City, it isn’t a fully open world but instead, the world is broken into slices where players can explore famous landmarks of the show. One of the areas I was able to explore was the boardwalk which was crawling with characters that I could interact with. Places like the Beach Citywalk Fries are there and just like the series Steven got his fry bits though it required him to save it from some bad guys first.

Just walking around the boardwalk, I saw plenty of characters to talk to some are there to add flavor to the world while others can give side quests like helping Sour Cream find glow sticks for his concert. I could tell a lot of effort was made to make this game feel like it’s part of the Steven Universe…universe as opposed to just using the license to slap over a generic RPG. Dialogue seemed true to each character and I am hoping we get plenty of character interactions from the main cast and the huge list of side characters present in the series.

I did ask about the music and it sounded like there will not be any new songs from Rebecca Sugar, but the developers made sure to hire a good composer to make the score sound like something that would come from the show. It’s understandable that the series writers are too busy to be more involved in the music and writing, fans know how long it takes to make an episode and wait for new episodes to air. I was assured though that the developers are working with Rebecca Sugar and she is involved enough that the game will still feel very much part of the franchise.

As a fan of the show, I was happy to see that Grumpyface Studios were given another shot at making a Steven Universe game. The jump to consoles appears to have allowed them to take the best things from Attack the Light and expand them into something that potentially could be great. Steven Universe: Save the Light is scheduled to release in the Fall of 2017 for the PlayStation 4.

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