[Disclosure: A preview key was provided for the contents of this article]
Considering that is still unfinished, Lab Zero’s Indivisible has already received a really incredible amount of praise. Of course, that’s to be expected when you consider that it is being developed by the same team that previously created the beautifully animated and surprisingly deep Skullgirls beat-em-up. This time out, Lab Zero have decided to use their considerable talents to create a kind of Metroidvania/Action-RPG hybrid featuring a central protagonist called Ajna.
Aside from being animated to such an incredible extent that I swear you’ll probably just move her around on the screen without really doing anything specific for the first five minutes, Ajna proves to be both charismatic and handy in a fight. We learn very quickly that she can hop, jump and punch with extreme agility, but she’s also able to convince other friendly NPC’s to join her. Those NPC’s are invisible during the platforming sections, but jump immediately into the fight whenever battle is joined, with each of them taking a slot on the controllers face buttons.
It isn’t long before players are dashing into more and more challenging fights and I have to say, Indivisible is the kind of RPG that expects a certain level of strategic intelligence and dexterity from players. Not only will you need to decide when you launch difference characters into the fray based on their countdown timer, but you’ll also need to time blocks, prioritise target enemies and adjust the actual nature of each characters attack by holding directions on the D-Pad that change focused attacks to area of effect ones, for example.
Whilst it may be referred to as a tactical or turn based RPG on some occasions, Indivisible is actually much more demanding than most because of its quick pace and tough encounters. Many enemies are armoured or otherwise resistant to various kinds of attack and the player must manage Iddhi, a resource that enables Ajna and her party to do essential things like block or use special attacks, for example. It’s quite a brutal system and whilst I can imagine it being off-putting for casual gamers, I expect hardcore players will absolutely adore it.
One thing Indivisible does extremely well is allow players to practice. Once the game begins, there is very little break in either combat or challenging platform sequences. In the latter, Ajna must jump and double jump her way through increasingly tough and more perilous sections, usually only to be met by more enemies once she reaches wherever it was she was going. In the preview I’ve played, there are some Metroidvania style features introduced by an axe weapon that both enables her to clear undergrowth and to scale new walls by using her axe swing as a kind of grappling tool.
All the while, Indivisible‘s exceptionally animated, cartoon graphics are accompanied by an inspirational and electrifying soundtrack courtesy of Hiroki Kikuta (of Secret of Mana fame) that really drives Ajna and her pals onwards. Story beats are so few and far between in the preview I played that I am not clear on why Anja is doing what she is (although there is undoubtedly a horde of bad guys to kill, if you needed any better reason) but I can say, the soundtrack and fast paced gameplay were generally enough to keep me moving forwards.
With platforming and combat systems that feel at least (if not more) complete than most action RPG’s, Indivisible seems as if it must be almost certain to make its scheduled release in January of 2018, although I would love to see a more fleshed out story to really round things off. As it stands, this is still an exceptionally promising title that looks and sounds fantastic, but more importantly has the kind of meticulously detailed, complex combat that fans of the genre will love. Certainly one to watch in the coming months!