Steven Universe: Save The Light is a shining example of Cartoon Network’s transcendent game making ability
I’m going to start by saying, Cartoon Network is amazing at making games. Well, more accurately they know how to find amazing talent that are fans of their franchises and are able to make a game that transcends their television series into an amazing game. I think the trend of cashing in on a popular television show or series with a poorly made game skinned with a popular franchise is over, and Cartoon Network is leading the way! We’ll start with Steven Universe: Save the Light.
I am not a dedicated fan of Steven Universe, it is an enjoyable cartoon with some very unique characters and under the radar brilliant writing, I just don’t have the time to watch everything. But I am going to make the time for Steven Universe: Save the Light [SUSTL]. SUSTL is the sequel to the mobile game Steven Universe: Attack the Light. This time around Steven must protect the Prism from a new foe, along with the help of the Crystal Gems, Greg, and Connie. Their adventure takes them through iconic and new locations in the world of Steven Universe. This time around, players will now be able to freely explore the world while battling enemies in a modified turn-based combat system.
Being the casual fan that I am, I was thoroughly amazed how enveloped I was by the game immediately after picking up the sticks. It felt like I was really in the universe of Steven Universe. Yes, I really wanted to say that, but it’s because Grumpyface Studios (the developers of SUSTL) created a truly immersive world that emanates Steven Universe. The art style, while appearing simple at first look, is intricately beautiful and full of depth. It is a true homage to the franchise, while also a testament to Grumpyface Studios’ world-building abilities. There are also many nods to classic gameplay elements, such as chopping wild grass like a popular green-capped elf, and tongue-in-cheek gaming tropes that fit right into the humor of the show and showcases the amazing depth of the developers abilities and appreciation of the source and medium; there’s a big log you can walk through so there’s probably stuff inside of it.
SUSTL’s gameplay is described as light RPG with action elements. This essentially means you provide RPG commands for the character in real-time. The real-time control of the gameplay is a huge step up from the traditional turn base of the first game. The real-time aspects make for very engaging strategic gameplay. For instance, enemies will often move around the area to attack, shifting and repositioning themselves closer and further from each other, which allows you to potentially hit more enemies at once. Then there’s also the character relationships that factor into the available options characters have. You can see from the video up top, Steven and Connie are able to fuse into Stevonnie. After building their relationship in the game, the ability to fuse and become the awesome Stevonnie becomes available. Relationships are built by having the characters interact and support each other. Actions, like healing each other, buffing each other, and defending each other, helps build the relationships. This game feature was specifically requested from Rebecca Sugar, creator of the series, who is very involved in the game’s development.
Grumpy Face Studios fandom, as well as Miss Sugar’s involvement, is likely why the game feels like the show. The game is a true extension of the show, from the look and gameplay to the dialog. Throughout the game, you are given the option to choose your responses in dialog, which is very common. However, each option legitimately feels like something the character would say. It is hard to explain how impressive this is considering response options are nothing new, and I do not have a concrete example. But fans of the series will really appreciate that the voice and consistency of the show is perfectly captured to the finest of details. The best example I can give is right before embarking on a quest, you may or may not have the option to stop and get fries right before.
Steven Universe: Save the Light is a shining example of gaming expanding a franchise. While maybe not direct canon to the show, the game truly does feel like you are in the universe and having an adventure that takes place in the show. SUSTL is not some cash grab to capitalize on a franchise’s popularity like some games, and most mobile games. It is a true homage and expansion of the fandom. Not playing the game is like missing out on a Steven Universe movie. It may not affect your love of the series, but would you really still be able to call yourself a true fan? Sorry for the nerd guilt, but that’s how good the game is. Aside from being a great Steven Universe Game it is also just a fun and well made game. A hilarious and positive story, perfectly polished game mechanics, and engaging gameplay. If you’re a person who likes Steven Universe and/or RPG’s, Steven Universe: Save the Light should be added to your game list.
Steven Universe: Save the Light will release this Fall (2017) on Xbox One and PlayStation4, developed by Grumpyface Studios and published by Cartoon Network with an ESRB: E10+ Rating.
- Sequel to popular Attack the Light mobile title
- 8 playable characters a player can pick from to build their party
(7 at launch, 1 available via DLC post launch)
- New Team Attacks and Fusions between characters in battle
- Development closely partnered with Steven Universe creator Rebecca Sugar
- Introduces new, never-before-seen SU characters