Steven Universe: Save the Light’s cast gets bigger with its coolest mechanic

Grumpyface Studios/Cartoon Network

Steven Universe’s first console role-playing game feels like a mash-up of many of the genre’s cult-beloved, idiosyncratic gems — with one twist that establishes it as unique in its own right.

Much like the Cartoon Network show that it’s based on, Steven Universe: Save the Light features the Crystal Gems, a group of super-powered, extraterrestrial heroes who protect Earth with their magical abilities. Chief among those is Steven, who’s half-Gem, half-human — and thus the most precious, mysterious Crystal Gem of all.

Even though Steven is just part-magical being, he has all the capabilities of a full-fledged one. The most important of those is the ability to fuse with other beings … although, somehow, his fusion partner is the very human Connie, his best friend.

This is preserved in Save the Light, as the Gems’ fusion powers make up a core part of an otherwise familiar combat system. The turn-based RPG pits teams of up to four characters against foes, and they can start forging stronger bonds throughout battle. Maxing out two characters’ relationship meter — which is tracked in a separate menu — unlocks a fusion option during battle. Choosing that will transform the pair into their new, even stronger form, which fans of the cartoon will recognize; after battle, the relationship meter resets.

Steven and Connie fusing into Stevonnie.
Steven Universe: Save the Light fusion dance

While all Gems have the ability to fuse together and create new, temporary fighters from a more limited cast, it’s Steven and Connie whose fusion we’re most excited for. Stevonnie, as the character is called, is a speedy sword-wielder who combines the best of both characters to be almost unstoppable. They’ve got Steven’s shield and Connie’s sword and the pair’s combined cuteness. Although attacks are limited by how many points the player has left on Stevonnie’s ability point gauge, it’s likely that a few hits will be enough to clear out all the enemies still standing.

The fusion system shakes up fights by giving players different moves to try, and it’s one of the standout parts of the battle system. While its active time-based movement and skill trees recall Final Fantasy, and its sense of humor, bright color palette and timing-based attack bonuses are culled from Paper Mario — neither of which are bad things to pull from, mind you — Steven Universe: Save the Light’s character-fusing system is what we’re most excited to try out further from this console RPG.

Steven Universe: Save the Light’s heading to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One later this summer.

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