Indivisible E3 Impression
Indivisible scratches an itch I didn’t realize I still had. It may just be a playable E3 demo at this point, but 2019 can’t come fast enough, now that I spent a good twenty or so minutes becoming acquainted with Lab Zero Games’ upcoming and incredibly gorgeous Metroidvania RPG.
Ajna is just a normal girl. Then, one day, her village is attacked by warlords. During the course of this experience, she discovers she has the ability to absorb others into her mind, and she sets out on a colorful revenge quest filled with humor and interesting characters to pay back her village’s attackers.
The world of Indivisible is separated into various zones, from the mundane like jungle and desert to delightfully exotic-sounding ones like an Asian market city and a Victorian steampunk zone. Unfortunately, the demo did not show off these unusual locales. Even so, the environments and backgrounds were bold and striking to look at, and instantly sent the message of: “Yes, you’ll feel right at home playing a game here.”
The same praise can be heaped on the smoothly-animated character models; no surprise, that, coming from the creators of Skullgirls. The game has a total of twenty-five playable characters, any three of which can be in Ajna’s battle party at any time. The combat system is one we’ve seen before, and isn’t my favorite, but the developers have tweaked it in some ways that made me embrace it more than I would have thought possible. During battle, all four characters stand in a diamond shape, with each corresponding (and being controlled via) one of the controller’s four face buttons. But each character has variations on their attacks — activated by holding up or down on the d-pad while pressing the button — and can even earn additional attacks by powering up. Each character can block if an enemy attack is directed at them, again by pressing the corresponding face button, and I haven’t even mentioned special abilities. All of this just means that there’s enough to make the combat feel more varied that I barely even had time to dislike the basic system.
Being a Metroidvania, Indivisible of course places heavy emphasis on exploration, as well as on backtracking after attaining new exploration abilities that let you access new areas. Nothing new there. But while playing the demo, I actually laughed at several moments due to the interactions between Ajna and her steadily-growing retinue. When Ajna comes across a helpful ally willing to accompany her, she ostensibly absorbs them, meaning they disappear from the screen and only reappear during battles (if they’re in the combat party) and dialog scenes. Although I only got to see three of her companions, their banter was enough to make me chuckle, especially the dry wit of the shamaness Razmi.
All of this was well and good, and enough to leave a positive impression on me. Eventually the developers let me cheat and jump ahead to face an actual boss, who promptly wiped out my party. But a curious thing happened as I picked myself up and prepared to face the boss a second time. Not that I won; no, I still solidly lost. But after only a handful of minutes, and on just the second boss attempt, I noticed that the combat mechanics were starting to click with me in noticeable ways. I was able to make better use of each character’s attack variations, as well as perform some deft blocking when the boss prepared to go in for big-damage strikes. It wasn’t enough to win, not yet, but on just the second attempt I noticed I was already improving and, more importantly, having fun while doing so. Indivisible just shot high up my list of must-owns in 2019.