Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: 505 Games
Developer: Lab Zero Games
Release Date: Oct. 8, 2019


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NS/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Indivisible'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on July 12, 2017 @ 12:15 a.m. PDT

Indivisible is an action/RPG that stars Ajna, a girl who sets out on a globe-spanning journey to discover the truth behind her mysterious powers.

"Spiritual successor" can be a difficult title to bear, especially when you're referring to niche titles with dedicated fanbases. Tri-Ace's Valkyrie Profile is one such title. With the exception of a recent mobile game, the franchise and its distinctive gameplay style appear to be on indefinite hiatus. That is what makes Indivisible so interesting. It's clearly inspired by this franchise, but because it's a spiritual successor to a lesser-known title, the homage is out of love, not mimicking a popular franchise. More importantly, it's not merely a clone but something entirely its own. It's no wonder that Indivisible was one of the most exciting games we saw at E3 2017.

Indivisible follows the story of a young girl named Ajna who is on a quest to defeat the evil warlord who destroyed her village. The demo we played was extremely light on plot, but the focus was on the gameplay systems. As with Valkyrie Profile, Indivisible is a mix of real-time platforming and exploration mixed with a semi-action-based combat system. When exploring the overworld, you control Ajna directly. She plays like a 2D platforming protagonist, so she can climb, jump, slide, and unlock new abilities that increase her ability to explore dungeons, which manifest as mazes with hidden secrets.

The exploration in Indivisible seems pretty fun. Ajna is extremely mobile and only gets more so as she gains access to new weapons and abilities. She may lack Lenneth's ability to shoot magical crystals, but she has makes up for it with plenty of cool options. The demo is a light Metroidvania that encourages you to find new equipment so you can locate more items and characters. For example, an ax gave Ajna a new weapon to chop through things, but it also allowed her to swing the ax while exploring and use it as a makeshift hook to scale walls. There will be more weapons and exploration mechanics in the final version.

At its core, the combat system also resembles Valkyrie Profile's, but with a few significant changes. Once players enter combat, the four party members spread out. Since each is bound to a specific face button, you press the button to make them attack. Unlike Valkyrie Profile, combat here is in real time instead of turn-based. Each character has a charge meter that represents how many attacks they can do at once. The more attacks you use, the longer it takes to recharge. You can chain together the attacks to build up great damage, and doing so also builds up a super meter, which you can expend to perform special attacks. The super meter also represents the health you'll regain after finishing a fight, so it's a balance between sustain and damage.

In a style somewhat similar to Paper Mario, blocking is also a major part of Indivisible. It's important to block, since enemies hit hard. Solid play makes you powerful, but getting lazy and not blocking can lead to enemies burning through your HP. By pressing the button corresponding to the character when they are being attacked, you can attempt to nullify some of the damage. A properly timed block will be the difference between living and dying. There's also a "full party" block button that can be used against AoE attacks or if you're just not comfortable with timing individual blocks. However, this drains your party's special attack meter, so it should be used sparingly.

While Ajna is the main character, she can gather a host of supporting characters to help her. The characters have their own distinctive gameplay mechanics. Some are melee fighters, other are long-range magic casters, and others focus on defensive skills. You'll be able to develop the characters with specialized side-quests, which can provide them with more definition and grant them more abilities. Healing was always an oddity in the Valkyrie Profile system; it was usually smart to set up your characters to automatically heal with items or to abuse moves that rendered healing almost unnecessary. Indivisible looks to make this more engaging. Rather than having a healing spell, the dedicated healing character is an alchemist of sorts who mixes potions with their regular attacks and can activate healing with an alternate attack. The healing grows stronger as you attack, so you're encouraged to alternate between attacking and healing.

The majority of characters in the game will be new and exclusive to Indivisible. It's been well publicized that there will be cameo characters from other popular indie titles, like Shovel Knight and Shantae. We're told the characters will be a New Game+ bonus, rather than a major part of the story. The goal is to focus on the new characters who are part of Indivisible's world, not on being a massive crossover. While that might be disappointing to some, Lab Zero made the correct choice by creating a game that stands well on its own merits.

Of course, what really makes Indivisible stand out is its beautiful hand-drawn visuals. The game shares a visual design with Skullgirls, but at the same time, it's entirely distinctive. The style might be the same, but the character designs are memorable and stylish. Based on the playable demo, the animations were detailed and fluid. The environments and enemies shone, but the playable characters really drew the eye. Skullgirls was a great-looking fighting game, and Indivisible is shaping up to be an even better-looking RPG.

All in all, what we saw and played of Indivisible looked to be shaping up great. It's a love letter that takes pieces of Valkyrie Profile and other RPGs and melds them with a genuine affection for the genre. On top of that, it's absolutely gorgeous in motion and has a ton of style. If the final version of the game is anywhere as good as the demo, Indivisible will be a must-play for gamers who love Valkyrie Profile — or RPGs in general. Indivisible is coming in 2018 for all major platforms.

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