Brought to life by the beautiful hand animation of Lab Zero Games, a captivating score from Secret of Mana Composer, Hiroki Kikuta, and an addictive combat system, Indivisible is one of the most creative hybrid RPGs I’ve played to date.
Indivisible is centered around a rebellious teenage girl, Ajna, who sets out on a quest for revenge when her home is attacked and her father is killed by the tyrannical forces of Lord Ravannavar. However, she won’t be fighting this war by herself. Ajna possesses the unique ability to absorb and summon Incarnations, which are powerful combatants that Ajna will come across during her journey and develop deep bonds with. With the help of her new companions, Ajna will explore the world, learning more about its people, their struggles, and how she is destined to save them from a world-threatening force.
At its core, Indivisible is an action/RPG, but it’s one that contains so much creativity and soul in both its mechanics and presentation. Starting with exploration, Indivisible’s maps and platforming segments are structured similarly to Metroidvania-style games. At the beginning of the game players will follow a linear path as they hop, skip, and jump their way to the next area, but that changes once the game opens up and gives the players the choice to explore different nations and unlocks more abilities for Ajna to use outside of combat. By utilizing her new skills, Ajna can uncover new areas of the map to explore, collect upgrade materials to strengthen her party, and potentially run into other infamous indie characters across a wide range of titles.
Exploration wouldn’t nearly be as entertaining without the diversity of the nations and areas Ajna will discover for the first time in her life. Lab Zero Games created many of these areas with multiple themes, cultures, and mythologies in mind, creating a captivating fantasy world that packs in a ton of personality. My personal favourite nation was the city of Tai Krung due to its beautiful aesthetic of neon signs, food stalls, and ambient nightlife. However, the city tells a deeper tale of drugs and corruption the more you explore, which is just an example of how detailed these environments truly feel.
No doubt inspired by their fighting game roots, Lab Zero Games has developed Indivisible’s combat to feel like a mix between a turn-based RPG and a 2-D fighter. Players assemble their party of four fighters out of the potential 20+ character roster, each with their own unique gimmicks and properties that change up how you’ll engage in every battle. Once in combat, each party member is controlled by one of the four face buttons on the controller. Simply tap the button that character is bound to and execute a neutral attack, or change the direction of the attack to discover their character’s unique abilities. The goal of any combat encounter is to utilize your party in tandem and build off their attacks to rack up massive combos to defeat your foes. Once your turn is over, enemies take their turn swinging at your party members, which is where the defensive game happens. Players can block, parry or even counter enemy attacks as long as they time their defense right.
Ranging from knights and mages, to KamenRiders and even a massive Chow-Chow, there are sure to be multiple members of Indivisible’s widely diverse cast that players will resonate with and want to field due to their awesome character designs or their infectious personalities. Thankfully, each character is viable to use in combat and some characters manage to synchronize with each other with minimal effort. For example, one of my early teams to use was Ajna, the fire wielding witch Razmi, the pirate queen Baozhai, and the Shayak knight Tungar. With this party I could do wide AOE attacks with Baozhai’s cannons and Tungar’s urumi, while Razmi and Ajna locked the enemies in mid-air with their neutral attacks, easily racking up over 100 hit combos.
With a cast of over 20 characters to play with, it’s understandable that only half of them are fully fleshed out members of Ajna’s party and are regularly featured throughout the journey. While it’s disappointing some of my personal favourite characters didn’t get a ton of spotlight, I do appreciate that everyone gets a side quest to experience so players can develop a better bond with their own favourite optional members in the cast.
Unlike in traditional RPG’s, players can’t simply grind out enemies to become stronger in Indivisible, instead relying on players to develop skill to overcome the most challenging threats that stand in their way. Over the course of the campaign, players will encounter creatures that need to be defeated in certain ways or possess attacks that can potentially knock out your party members in one-hit. The only solution is for players to put in the time to learn how to perfect parry attacks, utilize your party members to launch enemies off their feet, and learn how to manage your Iddhi meter and other resources to decimate foes with huge damaging supers during a combo.
As a fighting game enthusiast, I personally love this combat system because the more I learn and experiment during fights, the more I’m rewarded with being able to execute flashier combos. Indivisible’s difficulty is essentially determined by the player’s skill. If you’re not ready to learn the game’s systems, you will encounter a lot of frustration dealing with battles and bosses later on because button mashing simply won’t work. It’s a bold choice for Lab Zero Games to make that harms accessibility to a wider audience, but I feel by adding an auto parry button or an automatic combo system, a significant part of Indivisible’s rewarding gameplay is lost.
One of the more disappointing aspects of Indivisible is actually Ajna herself. Despite her well-developed character arc and her host of new abilities she assembles throughout the journey, her actual gameplay in combat is stale when compared to the rest of the members in the cast because she has no unique abilities. For nearly 24 hours of gameplay I had to use the same set of axe attacks, when I know she’s capable of using a spear, a bow, and can even transform to overcome the obstacles in her path during exploration. This wouldn’t be much of a problem if her move set evolved, or at the very least her super attacks after pivotal story moments, but she is the only locked member in your party that must always be present. It would be nice to see in a later update if we can create parties without Ajna at the helm because this would open the gates to even more potential team synergies.
The more taxing issue I encountered however is definitely performance. During my playthrough of Indivisible on my base PlayStation 4, I encountered six hard crashes during combat and exploration, which were particularly frustrating when three of them were in the middle of boss battles. Exploration segments weren’t all that bothersome when the game is rife with save points for tricky platforming sections, but the ones during combat definitely got on my nerves a little. I also encountered some minor audio glitches when some characters wouldn’t speak during voiced cutscenes and I would also recommend players play with the audio mixing a little because the dialogue felt much too quiet when compared to the sound of the score and effects by default.
Despite my complaints, I couldn’t help but be hooked by Indivisible’s story and gameplay. Lab Zero Games has proven their talent isn’t just limited to developing a fantastic fighting game, they have the ability to combine different genres of games together and create truly unique experiences that are sure to be locked in player’s minds for years to come. Indivisible is another great addition to the crowdfunding pantheon of successful indie games, but I hope the game will be adopted by an even larger crowd of players when it releases for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on October 8.