Updated: Sep 9, 2021
I generally don’t do turn based RPGs. I love jumping into the action, making decisions (usually bad decisions) and fighting in real time. The whole upgrade system in RPGs can be long and complicated for me. I really hate the idea of messing up my stats for the rest of the game. Games like Pokémon are the exception. RPGs usually aren’t high on my list of games to play. That was until I saw Unleash the Light on Apple Arcade. As a massive Steven Universe fan, I had to give it a try.
Steven and Pearl fusion
The game takes place after the crystal gems reunite the diamonds to disassemble their colonies (after Steven Universe ends but before Steven Universe Future). As the Gems look towards their new lives, Steven finds out that a battalion is being sent to collect 2 Light prisms by force from Pyrope and Demantoid since they won’t respond. As this goes against Stevens peaceful era wish, the Crystal Gems set off to try and convince the off grid diamonds to let their colonies go.
The game is a great entry level to RPGs. I’ve been playing it on my iPhone (early days of my child being born) and honestly for the most part I’ve been submerged in the action. The combat can be tricky balancing out Steven with the rest of the 3 gem team with a limit of 5 moves before a response attack but I’ve enjoyed it. Limiting the use of Steven's bag, full of power up goodies and moving around a 4 person grid whilst battling adds to the fun and thought process when battling. It’s been fun working out what moves to use, whether it was Garnet's double punch or counter attacking abilities, the ever present Steven and his bubble that protects a member of the squad, whipping multiple enemies into shape with Amethyst or using the spear of truth with Pearl, whose array of moves for me were the most fun to use and had the greatest range. The additions of custom skill moves, badges and costumes affecting each character, added to a great combat system offensively and defensively. Overall the game has been fun, but there are a few issues that stopped it being great.
Hessonite joins Steven's movement
The additional characters could have been better balanced. Lapis and Bismuth should have been great additions and a welcoming tactical adjustment, but they were too far behind in skill level to catch up with the others. Lapis was useful at times but I found that when it came to bigger battles and I never felt comfortable using her. As a result she was basically an impact sub. I’m also quite an offensive player in the game and she would have been perfect with her multiple waves punch. Bismuth was very disappointing. I love the character, the voice actor is amazing but in this game she was just, bland. Not just in skill level but in moves. Yes, her moves reflect the character but a move set based on luck in a tactical game isn’t useful for me. Peridot on the other hand was interesting. She was added as a bonus character to a bonus level and it felt like she was really worked on. The robot and can assault she does helped, a lot. But unfortunately she fell to the same fate as Lapis.
I felt like the story was good and well written and the ending was a Steven Universe ending. I felt confused midway though because I thought after the 3 clear planets I completed the game. Turns out what I thought was a bonus level, was in fact the final level. This bit of confusion actually had me stop playing because that final level felt impossible. Just an endless grind. The bonus level they built in with Peridot was useful, both to the story, as a character and to reduce the feeling of an unnecessarily hard grind.
And of course there were glitches. For some reason I was seeing doubles of my fusions who were stuck in time. Really weird.
Seeing double - new fusions
I loved the game, and with the addition of Peridot's story I think they’ve balanced it well. It felt like a Steven Universe story from beginning to end and aside from some misread cues, glitches and the disappointment of a few added characters, this game was really good. Hopefully if there’s a Steven Future: Unleash the Light, we’ll get a more balanced character choice, and one fusion.
See video review here: SUUTL