When Steven Universe – Save the Light launched on Xbox One and PS4, it was a bit of a technical mess (see the Polygon review, for example). What made this so sad was that the RPG was otherwise a faithful, fun, and damned heartwarming recreation of the Cartoon Network show. I’m happy to report then that Steven the Gems get a much-improved version on the Nintendo Switch release, which just came out a week or so ago.
Last year’s launch was mired in technical issues, bit so far on the Switch, Steven Universe: Save the Light hasn’t crashed or bugged out in over a dozen hours of play. The charm of the game and its systems now match the technical aspects and I can gleefully suggest that any fan of the show pick this one up. If you’re not familiar with the show, Steven Universe is the tale of a young boy who discovers his mother was one of the four Crystal Gems – heroes that protect the universe from evil. Steven takes up her mantle, and he and the Crystal Gems go about their lives using the power of friendship (as well as kicking butt) to save the day again and again. It’s a humorous, gorgeous, and often epic in scope show that’s deeper than it would have you believe. Adults can learn a lot from Steven and the Gems, just like they often do with Adventure Time.
Save the Light is the sequel to the mobile hit Attack the Light, in which Steven and the Gems stopped a prism from destroying the world. The Prism becomes friendly and even shapes itself after Steven, and all seems well. This time, that very same Prism’s apparent “owner” lands in Steven’s neighborhood (crushing his poor dad’s car wash) and takes the Prism to go back to making it commit evil acts. It’s up to Steven, his dad, his friends, and the Gems to stop that from happening.
Save the Light uses a combat system that many Paper Mario fans will be familiar with – it’s a turn-based RPG at heart, but timely button presses will amplify your attacks and defend against enemy onslaughts as well. If there’s any real complaint, it’s that fights can sometimes take too long early on and the slow pacing can really put a stall in carrying the story forward. As you progress and get more party members and more powers, things become much more fluid.
I’m also sad that Steven Universe uses a fixed camera angle at all times, even though it rendered the world in 3D. It’s a beautiful recreation of the show, and I wish I could see it from all angles, instead of fighting the camera to get a good view. But those minor quibbles aside, this is a great, lighthearted and touching RPG about friendship and being strong enough to face down your fears. It’s well worth a play on the Switch.