If someone had told me that there was an exceptional RPG for mobile devices that took inspirations from games such as The Legend of Zelda, Mario RPG and the Paper Mario series, I would be pretty skeptical. If they then told me that this was a game based off of a Cartoon Network animated series, I would have walked away laughing because this person obviously has no idea what they’re talking about. But lo and behold such a rarity actually exists and its name is Steven Universe: Attack the Light.
I’ve heard of the Steven Universe series before and have seen some of the commercials on television, but I never really paid it much attention. So I went into the game with zero background on the characters or the story. Luckily both the characters and the story are a pretty straightforward affair. Steven Universe, our protagonist, is a young boy who has inherited “gem powers” from his mother (his father is a normal human) who was a “gem warrior”. He is joined by 3 more seasoned intergalactic gem fighters: Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl. Together they fight the forces of evil to protect the planet. This particular game finds mysterious colored creatures emerging from a broken magical prism and it’s your job to stop them.
Each character has their own unique personality, and after playing with them for a bit the dialogue becomes somewhat endearing. I quickly picked up on each characters personality and enjoyed their interactions with each other. It’s all very simple, but there’s a lot of quirky funny lines and it manages to be a bright point in the game.
There are 5 unique areas to be explored, each divided up into smaller sections. The exploration has a sort of Legend of Zelda type feel to it but much simpler. Steven and the gang move between areas of the map with simple finger swipes and interact with chests or doors with a finger tap. There are secret rooms to be discovered as well as basic puzzles to be solved. It remains simple throughout the game but it manages to never be tedious.
As the team explores these dungeons they run into the color creatures that need to be stopped. Battles take place in traditional turn based RPG fashion. However taking cues from Mario RPG all attacks come with an additional input component. By either tapping or swiping at the correct time, attacks become more powerful or add additional effects. Even defending against enemy attacks requires a well-timed tap to reduce damage.
Surprisingly there is a level depth to the battle system as well. There are an assortment of attacks and buffs at the team’s disposal, and each one has a potential use. For instance some enemies require shield breaking attacks to be performed before they can be defeated, while others can only be reached by specific attack types. Even conserving “star points” (the point required to perform actions) comes into play. The game never reaches a crushing level of difficulty but it does require some strategy to get by unscathed.
Also adding some extra flavor into the mix is the badge system (anyone familiar with the Paper Mario series should be right at home). Various badges can be found throughout the game and each grants a different ability or stat change. These vary between boosting stats, to giving random heals during battle, or even chances to revive after a KO. It helps to keep things interesting and gives another reason to search every nook and cranny of the worlds.
Steven Universe: Attack the Light has definitely been the most pleasant gaming surprise I’ve had in quite some time. It managed to take some of the best aspects from great RPGs and distill them into a short and sweet gaming experience. I often found myself wanting more from the game only to remember that this is a $3 downloadable game for mobile devices. This is a game that delivers way beyond it’s asking price, and it’s one of the best mobile titles I’ve ever played. I can only say to mobile developers out there to take note, because this is the way to do mobile gaming right. And for any fans of the Paper Mario or Mario RPG series this should definitely be on your list of games to get. I wasn’t a fan of Steven Universe going in, but I’ll be damned if I’m not a fan now.