Lab Zero Games, the studio that brought us the artfully animated 2-D fighter Skullgirls, is at it again. This time they're taking to the crowd-funding scene along with 505 Games to help support their upcoming title, Indivisible, a Metroidvania dungeon crawler game, mixed with some Tales of Phantasia style combat and that same beautiful, hand-drawn animation feel. This game is both a feast for the eyes and controls buttery smooth. The kicker is there is a free prototype of the game you can download and play right now! (PC version available, but Mac and Linux versions are in the works.)
The game story is drenched in Southeast Asian mythology with a heavy Buddhist influence. It follows a young tomboy named Ajna on her journey to defend her home from a plague of horrible monsters.
A good-natured tomboy with a rebellious streak, Ajna was raised by her father on the outskirts of their rural town. Her father raised her to be fair-minded and tough, and trained her in martial arts so that she might defend their home. When their town is attacked by local warlords, Ajna discovers a mysterious power - the power to absorb certain individuals into her being. Furthermore, fusing with these “Incarnations” will not only allow her to summon them into battle, but also grant Ajna new weapons and abilities. Determined to confront the warlords and find out more about these strange new abilities, Ajna sets out on a globe-spanning quest that will reveal her true nature and much more.
Half of the game involves using weapons that Ajna finds on her travels to traverse puzzles and conquer dungeons. Some are as simple as grabbing an axe to chip your way up a wall or cut down vines. Others include grabbing a spear and chucking it to create a platform, or using a grapple hook to swing to safety. These weapons can also be used to defeat enemies from a distance rather than engaging in full on combat, but should you come toe to toe with the evil that lurks out there (everything from animated bowls of rice, to terrifying globs of guts hidden under long, black hair), then your companions jump in and the game makes a big shift.
Combat takes on a totally different tone all together, pulling from games such as Tales of Phantasia or Valkyrie Profile, it is an action oriented timed battle system. Characters have a power bar that slowly fills. Once one chunk is full that character can attack using their designated button and a directional button combination. However, if the enemy is attacking you can only defend. Defending uses up your Iddhi Meter. You can fill up your Iddhi Meter by completing complex combos. Stringing together character combos is akin to a fighting game, making timing and button presses crucial. If you can fill up your Iddhi Meter enough you'll be able to unleash devastating super moves.
The combat takes a bit to get used to, as you have to think in terms of both a classic JRPG and a 2-D fighting game. Once you get the hang of it you'll wonder why other games haven't done something similar. It's fast-paced, and one wrong move could mean the end of your whole party.
The game is beautifully animated and wonderfully crafted, and it is still in very early development. I can't wait to see what Lab Zero Games and 505 Games pull off, because this stands to have the ability to change indie RPGs as we know them. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go play the free prototype again!