Reviewed on PCAlso available on Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox One, Apple Mac, Nintendo Switch and Linux
Indivisible is the newest game developed by Lab Zero Games and published by 505 Games. Well known for their widely successful Skull Girls game series, Lab Zero Games created Indivisible using its signature hand-drawn art and animation style in a genre-bending action-platformer-RPG-fighting-metroidvania-style.
The story of Indivisible is set in what appears to be a fictional adaptation of various Southeast Asian cultures. Following a beautifully animated intro by Studio TRIGGER and Titmouse, players are introduced to the heroine of the story, Ajna, in her rural home she shares with her father. Ajna's tale begins with a frustrating encounter with her father who pushes her hard to train, resulting in her father giving her time to cool off and leaves without her. Setting the story's wheels in motion, Ajna shortly thereafter returns to find her village destroyed by soldiers and her father being fatally struck down by the soldier in charge.
Following Ajna confronting the soldier, Dhar, Indivisible takes a quite interesting turn. Dhar informs Ajna that the village was destroyed at the insistence of the authority he serves, Lord Ravannavar, for the purpose of world peace. As ridiculous as it sounds to destroy a village in the name of world peace, it is much more ridiculous that, after this argument, Dhar becomes absorbed into Ajna's psyche and talks to her (not very pleasantly) within her head! From here the story takes off, despite the heroine's immediate grief at the loss of her father and confusion about having an annoying, murdering soldier in her head, by Ajna pledging to take revenge on Ravannavar.
As Ajna's new powers grow, along with the ever increasing roster of head prisoners called Incarnations, the gameplay opportunities grow as well. Ajna's initial abilities are typical for this style of game, including running, jumping, sliding, and punching. As the game progresses, through the exploration process and acquisition of additional Incarnations, further platforming abilities emerge. For example, to help reach previously too high locations, once Ajna acquires her mother's ax she is able to used said ax to cling to walls and wall jump higher. Other areas are inaccessible until certain Incarnations join and offer the use of their special skills or weapons.
What truly sets Indivisible apart from similar titles in my opinion is the combat system. Combat is initiated in what we will call the over-world (platforming world?) when Ajna either preemptively attacks the enemy with her ax or abilities, or when the enemy attacks Ajna preemptively. As you would expect, whoever attacks first has an advantage upon starting the battle. Ideally you would attack first because that allows you to jump straight into an awesome attack combo to start the battle out, possibly knocking a fair bit of health off the enemy before they can even react.
Once actually in battle, combat takes on an interesting mashup of turn-based RPG and fighting game mechanics. Actually, turn-based isn't the most accurate description as if you do not perform any actions the enemies will continue to attack and decimate you. Rather, each character in your team of Ajna and up to three Incarnations has a set number of actions they can perform before having to wait for them to replenish over time. When you first start out this is limited to just one action per character, though through the leveling up system of collecting red crystals called ringsels, this number can be increased. Thankfully you don't have to choose who to level up though. When Ajna levels up, all of her Incarnations improve as well. There is a separate leveling system for the Incarnations, but rather than improving stats directly they increase the connection or infinity they have with Ajna to make them more effective within battle.
As far as the actions go, think of a combo system similar to a fighting game in which the higher the quantity and variation of moves performed, the better and more effective the end combo will be. Plus, stringing together huge combos involving four characters just going to town and completely destroying an enemy is just plain satisfying to watch! All characters have different attacks depending on if their corresponding button is pressed alone, with the down direction for a lower attack, or with up for an upper or juggling attack. Furthermore, each character has their own set of special abilities corresponding with said attacks, adding even further to the variety and specializations possible in a given party arrangement. Best of all, given that all Incarnations improve as Ajna improves, basically all party combinations are valid choices for the entirety of the game. Party make-up essentially just boils down to personal preference.
While tearing down the enemies with epic combos is fun and all, eventually the combo ends and the enemy takes that opportunity to attack back. Never fear! The fighting game basics of blocking attacks to the rescue. Just as each character has a button associated with their own attacks, so can those buttons be used for blocking purposes. Some larger enemies have attacks that target the whole party, but a collective blocking button can help out in just such situations. Even blocking comes down to skill level though, as perfectly timed blocks occurring immediately prior to being struck reduce damage taken even more, as well as rewarding more additional Iddhi points if defense is properly upgraded.
Speaking of Iddhi points, a meter on screen reflects how much Iddhi, or power, has been accumulated via successfully blocking or attacking. Once a full bar of Iddhi has been gathered, an Iddhi Power move can be used by any character, ranging from extra-powerful attacks to potentially game-changing healing opportunities.
Graphics and Sounds
Ok, so I know most of my focus has been on the combat system as this is the heart of much of the game. I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the art and sound styles of Indivisible. The hand-drawn environments and characters alike are absolutely breathtaking at times. And when not presented with an incredible vista to admire, even the more "common" areas of platforming and exploring are so unique and engaging that I still felt captivated. Just like their previous success with Skull Girls, Lab Zero Games absolutely knows character design and ambiance mastery.
Indivisible also does not disappoint in the auditory arena. All major characters are fully voice-acted, helping their individual personalities shining even brighter. And with a soundtrack by the famous Hiroki Kikuta of Secret of Mana fame, it goes without saying that my ears were fully engaged throughout my time with Indivisible.