With a promising combat system and incredible visual design, indie title Indivisible has potential. But as it progresses, it becomes harder to ignore its problems.
Indivisible, a role-playing action game from Lab Zero Games, creators of the popular beat ’em up Skullgirls, came out after a successful Kickstarter campaign and several years of development.
Is the game on its way to becoming a classic, or is it yet another ambitious Kickstarter project that doesn’t meet expectations?
Indivisible is the spiritual successor to the classic RPG Valkyrie Profile that came out 20 years ago. Valkyrie Profile’s plot is inspired by Norse mythology, and has you exploring 2D dungeons with platforming segments, and fighting enemies with a revolutionary battle system. Indivisible is based in Hindu mythology, but shares many of the same gameplay mechanics, with a few gimmicks of its own.
Everything Changed When Ravanna’s Army Attacked
Indivisible follows Ajna, a girl whose hometown was destroyed and her father killed by an invading army. Ajana discovers that she can absorb and warrior souls summon them to her side in battle. She uses this power to embark on a quest for revenge.
During the game, she encounters various characters who join her journey, when it becomes clear that the fate of the world depends on her decisions.
The story is interesting, along with the development of Ajana’s identity and the consequences of the decisions she makes. Despite what the themes of war and revenge might suggest, the overall atmosphere isn’t very heavy or dark. It’s reminiscent of the animated style of the series “Avatar” – a serious main plot surrounded by humor and lightheartedness.
Unfortunately, a lot of plotlines kind of fizzle out towards the end, and reach an unsatisfying conclusion. Also, the game doesn’t focus enough on some of the optional characters that can join you. Their stories are expressed only in short snippets and a single mission towards the end of the game, and it’s a real shame.
Fighting on Solid Ground
The battle system is by far the most exciting part of Indivisible. During combat, you control four characters, each mapped to a different button on the controller. Pressing that button will cause the character to attack, and the d-pad can trigger special moves such as healing or boosting.
You can chain the attacks of different characters in sequence to create a combo, with the only restriction being the number of moves per character. Once in awhile, it’s the enemies’ turn to attack, so you need to defend each character by pressing the appropriate button before getting hit. There’s also an energy bar that fills up whenever you inflict pr receive damage. It’s used in special abilities and attacks.
Having several characters attacking in unison is a clever idea that can potentially add a lot of strategy to battles. This is especially true when you consider how different the characters feel and play, and the tactics you need to master with each of them. But two issues make the battle system underutilized.
Indivisible’s first issue is its difficulty or lack thereof. The early hours of the game provide relatively fierce battles, where you need to meticulously plan your every move. However, the game doesn’t get progressively harder. Aside from a few boss fights, you don’t really need to invest too much thought in your roster or how to best utilize it. Even healing becomes meaningless, as there’s a move that lets you heal everyone and revive any character that was knocked unconscious during a fight.
The second issue is the lack of customization. Characters’ equipment can’t be changed, attacks can’t be adjusted, passive abilities can’t be switched, and there are no spells to choose from. The only thing you can do is increase the number of attacks, and this upgrade applies to all characters simultaneously. Towards the end of the game, every combat encounter starts feeling the same, unless you decide to actively mix it up a bit by switching your party members. Also, the number of enemies in the game is tiny. In fact, there are more playable characters than types of enemies.
These problems are hard to ignore, especially given that Indivisible is trying to be a spiritual sequel to a game with a much deeper combat system and character customization. The longer I played, the more I started avoiding combat – it felt more of a nuisance to get through than a real challenge. It’s a shame, as the game’s combat system has excellent foundations to build on.
Climbing up the Walls
The other half of Indivisible’s gameplay is the 2D platforming. The game takes a lot from the Metroidvania subgenre, and you need to visit different areas to gain abilities that allow you to move forward. Overall, there are plenty of ways to move around, which comes in handy when attempting to traverse the tricky platforming.
Unfortunately, the platforming is all that enjoyable, especially compared to other games in the genre. Control is problematic and requires too precise an input in some of the moves. As the game progresses, the amount of platforming you have to do increases unreasonably, which does not help things. Even worse, the maze you explore is just hours of repetitive platforming sections, with very little else to break the monotony.
Exploring isn’t very necessary, so platforming your way through the environments does feel unrewarding. You can find more characters to add to your party, but they aren’t usually hidden in hard-to-reach places. You can collect special items that increase the attacks in combat, but I maxed that out about halfway through. I guess you can continue looking for more to improve your defense, but it feels very pointless.
A Girl, a Pirate, an Amazon, and a Fairy Walk into a Bar
The visuals of the game are excellent. There is a lot of diversity in areas and characters. Each character has their own unique design, which makes it easy to tell them apart and adds another reason to find them all. The graphics and animation look great and smooth, and the music contains some great tunes.
But the game doesn’t free of weird bugs. One time, a character just vanished from my party without warning and only returned when I advanced the story. Other times, my character got stuck in a wall, or I encountered an enemy that suddenly delt 10 times more damage than its friends. Though, the latter was kind of nice, as it presented an actual challenge for once.
Indivisible could have been great if it had maintained its quality throughout the entire experience. But it is visually awe-inspiring, and all the characters in it are distinctive and appealing.
Like many other crowdfunded games, it suffers from “feature creep” – an excess of ideas and promises, that results in a lack of focus. I personally recommend waiting to see if the developers fix some of the problems in the coming months, especially the lack of challenge. However, there’s still a lot to like if you choose to play it right away.