Cartoon Network's Steven Universe has been quite a source of surprises lately, from a moving musical number about relationships to a premium mobile RPG that channels the spirit of Paper Mario.
Now I'm not saying $US2.99 will get you a game with the depth and story of something Nintendo might release. It's just GrumpyFace Studios' Attack the Light feels like a Steven Universe-themed love letter to Nintendo's Mario RPG series, with its focus on gesture-based skills with attack and defence bonuses relying on timed button (screen) presses.
Steven and his gemstone warrior pals uncover a powerful artifact that shatters into a bajillion pieces at our hero's touch, freeing colour-coded light monsters into the world. All of creation is in danger, the fate of everything hangs in the balance, and Steven is just pleased-as-punch to be participating in this role-playing game with his friends.
The game captures the spirit of the show quite nicely, which is good as series creator Rebecca Sugar wrote the story and the original voice cast lent their pipes. If Attack the Light had failed to capture the show's spirit, something would have been horribly, horribly wrong.
While it's got all of the basic features of a turn-based RPG — taking turns fighting, gaining experience levels to increase stats and unlock/upgrade skills, standing on one side of the screen — Attack the Light is a lighter sort of game. There's no overworld, no villages to rest in or stock up on supplies at. Just a series of dungeons Steven and friends take on one-by-one. Oh there are brief cutscenes with humorous dialog, but for the most part the game involves exploring, collecting items and battling enemies.
It's a good thing that last one is so much fun.
Feeling the Paper Mario vibe now? The Crystal Gems are the muscle of the group, attacking enemies with familiar powers. Steven acts as support, as he often does, offering encouragement, managing the action points, doling out items and healing.
These aren't casual battles. Maybe the first few dungeons, but as the party progresses the aggressors become pretty powerful, requiring advanced tactics to take down. Players need to manage items effectively, apply buffs and debuffs — there's no simply hitting attack, no auto fight feature.
I've seen the game over screen quite a few times myself. In fact the video above was taken while I was grinding the first boss — you can repeat stages — for experience. It's a pretty hardcore game. I was not expecting that
Unexpected complexity and depth is a running theme with Steven Universe. I'm pleased to report it carries over to the mobile game as well. A premium game with no in-app purchases of any sort, Attack the Light is a must-have for fans of both the show and turn-based role-playing games alike.
Attack The Light
Genre: Turn-based RPG
Developer: GrumpyFace Studios
Verdict: Totally worth it.