Indivisible is very much the sum of its parts, which is ironic since the game’s title word means unable to be separated or divided, an intentional choice to describe many of the themes presented throughout the game’s story and experience. Indivisible is an action RPG at its base, but it takes many different pieces from quite a few different genres and strings them all together in an effective package that works to the game’s benefit.
The game at its very core is all about companionship, and has a theme not so subtly flowing throughout it that people are stronger when they work together, that complex problems can easily be solved if people band together and ask for help, and that people are made better by the people around them that help them make their individual traits even stronger as a result.
This theme is reflected in the gameplay, where your tactics and strategies are completely changed based upon the characters that you have in battle. There is a wealth of companions, twenty total in the base game, that all play for the most part completely unique in terms of abilities and how they function. The game is very much all about building your own parties and making your own strategies, finding out which companions you like the most.
Indivisible at its heart is absolutely a RPG, one that plays fast-paced and uses simple controls that help always make the battles frantic and quick, not letting you linger on a single battle for too long. But it makes even fighting against basic enemies fun and entertaining, and speeds up the pace of how it takes to defeat enemies that you are more than a match for.
The game uses an action-based system more akin to something like Final Fantasy 7, where taking your own actions freezes the enemies temporarily until you are done, and waiting to regenerate those actions is usually when enemies will end up attacking you. It gives a flow to battle, and sometimes nail-biting desperation, as you desperately wait and hope you get to attack before the enemies knock down your health.
Your party at any given time consists of at least four characters, and each are controlled completely with the press of one button, both for attacking and defending.
When a Fighting Game Developer Makes an RPG
Lab Zero Games has taken inspiration from their origins as a fighting game developer and have implemented mechanics familiar to fighting game veterans, as enemies can be knocked up in the air and juggled for extra damage, or even the fact that you can press each of your characters’ buttons in rhythms based on their attack pattern to create gigantic damage combos that will list the overall damage dealt and number of hits.
The complexity comes when you take character passives and different types of attacks into account. Each character has three different attacks, one pressing the button without any directional input, and the other two while holding up or down on the directional stick. What each of these inputs does is completely dependent upon which character is doing it, so while there are some universal concepts like how the Up-button is usually a character “launcher” attack, some characters will do something that is related to their unique playstyle, which can change the feel of a battle completely.
Strategy and Environment in Indivisble
Defending is done with the same buttons when an enemy attacks and the game will indicate which party member the enemy is attacking, but it’s up to you to react in time. You can hold the button to put up your guard, or if you try to time the defense, you can even parry the hit, making it deal no damage and actually healing you a small amount instead as a reward for knowing the timing of the attacks. Parrying isn’t as hard as in most fighting games that use a similar mechanic, but it becomes almost mandatory later on, making you at least become familiar with the mechanic and encouraging you to practice and learn the timing of each enemy’s attacks naturally.
Battles are done completely in the overworld, transitioning into combat as soon as you attack an enemy. The surroundings of wherever you are located are used to make the battlefield you fight on, seamlessly transitioning you into and out of battle with no loading times. This is something that I came to appreciate immensely as it gave the battles a high octane speed from when they started to when they ended. It also allowed me to traverse the world quickly and efficiently without feeling the same groan-inducing annoyance as yet another enemy blocked my path, as the battles were genuinely fun to experience and the wealth of companions allowed me to experiment and keep the experience fresh no matter where in the game I was.
The battle system itself is superbly done, and even though there are no items, spells, or anything other than attacking and defending, I didn’t feel like the game was any lesser for it. I found myself immensely enjoying each battle, finding complexity in the mechanics that hold the battles up as something unique only to Indivisible, without any of the annoyance that fiddling with menus can sometimes provide when trying to create a fast-paced RPG experience.
Exploration and Discovery
The world itself is beautiful, and the maps you traverse actually pulls from yet another genre to good effect, the much-beloved Metroidvania. Each map is laid out almost like a dungeon to explore, designed to make use of your platforming abilities as you gain more and more tricks the farther you advance in the game. Paths that are closed off when you come across them for the first time are opened up later when you learn new abilities to open them, making it beneficial to come back and explore each area again when you have the capability to.
In fact, there are quite a few things to find, even though it’s only one type of collectible. But these collectibles are vital, as they allow you to upgrade your attack and defense, which lets you have even more fun as you run over enemies like a freight train and piece together even more complicated strings of attack patterns into a glorious combo that can wipe away an entire screen of enemies in a single button combination of animation. The feeling of doing so is quite cathartic and one of the high points of the entire experience.
Journeying in 2D
Speaking of animation though, Lab Zero is back at it again with their amazing handcrafted visuals. Those that have seen Skullgirls will instantly recognize that same artistic style that encompasses Indivisible. Each character has been hand-drawn and animated from scratch, and as such, all of them animate beautifully and look fantastic from their designs to their attack patterns. I honestly love the way that Lab Zero combines three-dimensional objects with their hand-drawn animation because it creates a style that never really ages poorly at all, and simply remains beautiful and timeless.
The story itself is a story about a hero coming of age, a common trope in this genre, but done in a way that feels like it’s more paying homage to the trope rather than tastelessly trying to do the same thing again. You play as a girl named Ajna, who’s grown up in the simple village of Ashwat under the guidance of her strict and stoic father. She is strong-willed and determined in everything she does, even if sometimes that makes her stubborn and stupid in some circumstances.
The story starts when Ajna’s village is attacked by soldiers, kicking off a world-spanning adventure that takes you to a variety of locations. Along the way, you meet a colorful cast of characters. Voice actors play the cast well, and the writing had me chuckling a fair amount as the characters themselves were easy to like. They grew on you the longer you hung around them, making the whole theme of the story about companionship and friendship really hit home, no matter how sappy it can be as well.
The story is light-hearted and filled with character–as well as many characters–and does exactly what it’s trying to do, creating a hero’s journey that keeps you invested from start to finish and keeps you looking for more once you get to the finale.
The Unique Experience of Indivisible
I want to say that overall, I had a fantastic time playing Indivisible. The game is a unique mishmash of various mechanics and concepts pulled from multiple genres to create a new and fresh experience that I really feel like other RPGs should take serious note of.
It goes to the core of RPGs and pulls out what makes the genre itself fun and engaging while further enhancing those pieces, the combat is fast and entertaining, the characters are colorful and varied in both playstyle and design and personality, and the exploration is interesting and engaging. Take all of these things and add a gorgeous hand-drawn animation style and you have an unforgettable RPG experience that I think even those that necessarily don’t like the genre should give a chance.
Indivisible is an unforgettable experience of a game, a culmination of ideas and concepts pulled from different genres and titles that only serve to enhance the adventure and make it a completely unique experience that other RPGs need to take note of. A possible contender for my Game of Year, I can’t recommend this game highly enough and encourage everyone to try it for themselves.
This review is based on a review copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Are you going to check out Indivisible? Have you already tried it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. If you want more about RPGS, check out our reviews on GreedFall and Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden.
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