Review – Steven Universe: Unleash the Light (Switch)
I will be honest: I actually thought that the Apple Arcade subscription service was going to succeed. Being focused on games with no microtransactions created by a mix between big publishers and promising indie devs sounded promising, even if the service stopped receiving games at a steady pace just a few months after its introduction. One of the games included in its launch lineup was Steven Universe: Unleash the Light.
A sequel to 2018’s Steven Universe: Save the Light, Unleash the Light was a smaller, more streamlined iteration of what made its predecessor so surprisingly decent. It retained the Paper Mario-esque combat formula, but instead of a big open world to explore, the exploration was streamlined to be focused on linear levels, with an even more reduced level of difficulty. Clearly a step back from its predecessor in terms of size and scope, but a good fit for a mobile device. The game is now available on other systems, one of which is the Switch, the closest to a bridge between mobile and mainstream console gaming you’ll find in the market. Let’s see if it’s a good fit for the system.
Technically speaking, Steven Universe: Unleash the Light retains the same art style as its predecessor. Character models are pretty much the same, being well designed and well animated in this more minimalistic rendition of the Steven Universe, err, universe. The main difference this time around is that, due to the game’s more simplistic level design, there isn’t a lot of environmental variety in here. You’ll keep moving from screen to screen, mostly looking at repetitive backgrounds and the occasional enemy battle.
The voice acting, which was one of its predecessor’s main highlights, is also featured in here. In fact, there is a bit more voice acting this time around, still retaining the show’s cast. Some in-battle one-liners have been stripped directly from Save the Light, by the way, as Steven will still utter “do your thing, thing” every now and then. A nice touch for fans of the franchise.
Due to linear level-based focus, exploration is reduced to a minimum. There are puzzles to solve, and you can acquire a few hidden items every now and then, but don’t expect the same level of depth featured in Save the Light. You can’t even freely move your characters around; moving the analog stick to any direction makes your party move to different screen altogether.
It’s a bit disappointing, that’s for sure, but that’s an obvious compromise inherited by the fact this game was originally planned to be played on iPhones. I don’t think this would be a fun experience for PS4 and Xbox One owners, but you can enjoy Steven Universe: Unleash the Light a bit more on the Switch if you decide to play it in small bursts, in a “pick up and play” fashion. Besides, the one thing that bothered me the most in Save the Light, the terrible camera controls, are completely absent this time around due to the fact you can’t even more the camera to begin with. A small victory, I guess.
Steven Universe: Unleash the Light is, for all intents and purposes, a premium mobile game now available on the Switch. Don’t expect a lot of depth or sidequests: this is a mostly linear RPG experience that was tailor made for a younger audience. If you’re a fan of the show, if you want a simple but competent “pick up and play” game on your Switch, or if you want to introduce your kids to the world of turn-based RPGs with a really easy and forgiving game, then this one will easily satiate your needs.
It retains the same art style from the previous Steven Universe game, but its smaller scope results in less environmental variety.
The same Super Mario RPG/Paper Mario-esque combat system from its predecessor, but with much less freedom of exploration. On the other hand, the once irritating camera issues are now long gone.
A good soundtrack is accompanied by a bit more voice acting than what was featured in the previous game. It’s easily the best thing Steven Universe: Unleash the Light has to offer.
Fun Factor: 6.5
Its simplified level design and nearly non-existent exploration are a letdown when compared to its predecessor, but it does work somewhat well on the Switch due to its portability. It’s also a good entry level RPG for kids, as it’s ridiculously easy.
Final Verdict: 7.0
Steven Universe: Unleash the Light is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC, mobile and Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of Steven Universe: Unleash the Light was provided by the publisher.