Metroidvanias and platformers are a dime a dozen these days, but truly unique takes on their combat are far less so. Indivisible, on its way to the Nintendo Switch, borrows ideas from the Valkyrie Profile games to do just that, though, while also introducing its audience to a unique world mythology that many of us in the West won't be as familiar with.
I was able to go hands-on with Indivisible at E3 2018, playing the same build as the current Kickstarter backer demo. Through the demo, I got a feel for Indivisible's unique combat system, a taste of its world, and a look at some of the quirky characters Ajna will team up with as she ventures outside her village for the first time.
What is Indivisible?
Indivisible is a side-scrolling Metroidvania and RPG developed by Lab Zero, which also made the Skullgirls games. In it, you play as a young woman named Ajna whose village has been destroyed. Discovering a newfound power within herself, Ajna sets off to track down those responsible for the deed, learning more about herself and her world along the way.
There are two main aspects to Indivisible: its Metroidvania exploration, and its combat.
How do you explore?
Ajna will travel the world through 2D environments, exploring various levels and encountering enemies. At first, she only can fight with her hands and feet, but will start to acquire different items that both unlock new explorable areas and also become useful in combat. For example, early on, Ajna will acquire an axe. The axe can be used to break vines and hook into walls to give herself a boost upward, or it can be used to attack enemies.
As she explores, Ajna will encounter new allies who she can invite into a world inside her mind, where they will wait until she calls them to help her in combat. Ajna's mind world can be accessed through meditation at any time, and serves as a sort of hub from which she can access quests and talk to characters. While I demoed the game, a character asked me to collect a certain number of items and bring them back, but in the short demo I was unable to complete her task.
How does combat work?
You engage enemies as you explore either by attacking them with your axe, or being attacked by them first. When you enter combat, each party member is mapped to a button on the controller (on the Switch: A, B, X, and Y). They can attack when you press that button, and each character has three main moves--one on the button and one each for the button plus Up or Down. Some moves deal heavy damage, others can hit multiple enemies, some leave status effects or can break through shields, and still others will heal your party. Indivisible has tons of possible party members, so you'll want to get to know who you're fighting alongside and what their moves are so you can fight intelligently.
Once a character attacks, an ATB-style battle system will force them to recharge before they can attack again. As you play, you'll gain the ability to attack multiple times in a row and store multiple attacks, but at first you can only get in one hit at a time.
Your enemies operate on a similar system, and will attack when they can. You can see a tell before they hit you and guard by pressing and holding that character's assigned button. Blocking uses up energy, causing them to take longer before they can attack again, so you'll want to carefully time your blocks so as not to ruin your offensive chances. Multiple characters can both attack and block at the same time.
Finally, a charging meter at the top of the screen will fill whenever you land attacks or successfully block. Once full, characters can enter a special state and execute powerful finishing attacks or massive heals.
Damage in Indivisible can be heavy, but the best part of the game is that since it seems to be devoid of items, you also fully heal between battles. Even if you end a fight on your last legs, you'll be recharged and ready to start the next one if you see another enemy appear.
What is gameplay like?
Indivisible has been on my radar for over a year now, and it was incredible to see how far it's progressed. Indivisible is a beautiful game to look at, particularly with its character animations. Every party member has detailed, interesting movements whether idle or attacking that convey their unique personalities very well. Backing this is an excellent soundtrack so far--the battle themes are particularly jammin'!
The combat and exploration combine in interesting ways as well. My demo concluded on a boss fight which melded the battle with occasional intermissions where I had to dodge attacks on the map using my platforming skills. The fight was a crazy challenge and I wasn't able to defeat the spider monster that had waylayed me, but I loved the way the two types of gameplay fused together for a singular experience.
Finally, my favorite part: the mythology. Indivisible brings a fascinating mix of Southeast Asian culture and mythology that I haven't gotten to experience in any other game. Though I'm ignorant of its origins, after listening to the demonstrators talk about the game's inspirations, I can't wait to learn more about this world through Ajna's eyes.
When can I meet Ajna?
Indivisible is currently planned for a 2019 release on Nintendo Switch. Pricing information is not yet available for the game, which so far has only been listed as digital-only.
Any questions about Indivisible? Let me know in the comments!
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