Lab Zero’s Indivisible
is a strange game, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from the developer of
Skullgirls. A cross between an RPG,
platformer, and fighting game, Indivisible
was something that I knew little about heading into a recent demo. But
after a half hour hands-on session that ended far too early, Indivisible is a genre-blending game
that is as exciting as it is rough around the edges.
follows Anja, a tomboy who gets swept up in an
adventure after her village is attacked by a menacing army. My demo was set
inside a prison, after Ajna and her party were captured, with the goal of
breaking out and defeating its commander. This section takes place a few hours
after the start of the game, and while I wish I could have played through the
opening, it’s clear that Indivisible has
a lot of heart. The writing is filled with jokes and anachronisms that you
wouldn’t expect to see in a fantasy RPG influenced by southeast Asian
mythology, but it’s charming, and the biggest compliment I can give from what
little I saw is that I want to see more. Particularly since Ajna’s special
ability allows for a lot of interesting character interactions.
While the specific details of it weren’t made
clear to me, Ajna has a special power that lets her absorb individuals into
herself. That means every party member you see in-game resides within her mind,
coming out into the physical world only in battle and in rare occasions. It’s a
unique twist, but one that I did not get to fully explore in my brief
Instead, I spent much of my time delving into Indivisible’s two halves: its
exploration, and its combat. There is a large focus on platforming in Indivisible, but rather than just
jumping and sliding through obstacles, Ajna can also use her axe to grab onto
walls in order to reach a better position. 505 Games, Indivisible’s publisher, said that Ajna will gain a variety of
abilities that she can use to traverse the environment. One such ability,
unlocked after recruiting a new party member that specialized in using a bow,
allowed me to covertly take out an enemy that was otherwise unapproachable. It takes
a moment to get used to the controls, but before long I was jumping through
vents and smashing down doors with ease.
In its battle system, Indivisible plays like a cross between fighting games and Valkyrie Profile. Each character is
assigned a face button, and by pressing that button you unleash attacks, though
in the demo I played there was a limit of two attacks per characters before
they would have to recharge. Additionally, by pressing up or down when
activating an attack, you can unleash powerful blows that can break down an
enemy’s guard. There’s a rhythm to the attacks that I really enjoyed, and
setting up a combo after breaking through a boss’ guard is both exciting to
watch and deals a lot of damage.
Far from being simple, there’s plenty of actual
depth to the combat. Continuing the fighting game comparisons, there’s also a
special meter that fills up when you successfully connect with an enemy. When
it’s full, you can activate a character’s special attack, which can range from
a high damage combo to healing for every party member. What’s more, you can use
the special meter to guard against attacks, as well as revive downed characters
to bring them back into the fight. Considering the large number of characters
who join Ajna in her journey, each with different specials and attacks, and you
have a battle system that allows for plenty of experimentation.
It’s also well-animated, with an
anime-inspired style that pops in both still frames and in how the characters
move and attack. While most of my time with the game was spent inside a prison,
the design of the prison, evoking both typical fantasy elements and early 20th
century decor, made it stand out from similar fantasy RPG’s.
Though the gameplay mechanics and story are
well in place, Indivisible clearly
has more development ahead of it, as there were placeholder assets and text in
place throughout the demo. Humorously, even the voice acting wasn’t in place
yet, as I was instead treated to a robotic cast that was just a slight step
above Microsoft Sam.
Despite this small issues, I am impressed by
what Lab Zero has accomplished so far. The great fighting game inspired
mechanics, irreverent writing, and gorgeous world design, have me looking
forward to seeing what Indivisible will
look like when it launches later this year.