Indivisible is an undoubtedly unique game. Developer Lab Zero Games has placed its efforts in tying together two pre-existing popular genres, especially in the independent gaming scene; metroidvanias, and party-based RPGs. While these two disparate styles of game sound almost impossible to meld together cohesively on paper, Indivisible miraculously manages to pull it off, without making either aspect feel forced or out of place. However, the game is plagued with numerous other problems, with the fundamental concept alone not being enough to make it a game worth playing.
In Indivisible, players control a teenage girl named Ajna as her village is attacked by an army led by a tyrannical leader. Dhar - one of the armies most prolific soldiers - kills Ajna’s father in front of her, before the two clash in a fight to the death. In a surprise twist for both parties, Dhar ends up inside the head of the teenage girl, with the two opposing forces being tied together as the first members of the RPG party. From there, the plot advances, with Ajna trying to get revenge on the ruler and Dhar trying to stop her.
It’s a fresh set-up, but an immediate sore spot comes with the game’s grating attempts at quirky modern humour. It feels forced and generally isn’t very witty, undercutting a lot of charm that comes from the gorgeous 2D visuals and striking character designs. It makes it hard to fully attached to Ajna’s plight, as well as the various other conflicts that unfold throughout the course of the adventure.
Questionable writing doesn’t just end with the dialogue either, as it extends to the overall character writing. A lot of the party members in Indivisible feel like they have relatively weak motives for joining Ajna on her journey, leaving them and the narrative as a whole feeling unmemorable in the long run. Even those who do have more immediately compelling motives often lack a satisfying story arc or much overall growth, with their own personal conflicts falling far to the wayside and very little screen time or dialogue dedicated to them. This isn’t even concerning the optional party members, who almost have no motivations for joining Ajna on her quest, and zero semblance of any kind of development or growth. The narrative as a whole has no compelling hook, leaving Indivisible to stand firmly on its gameplay.
Thankfully, the large and eclectic crew of party members that is amassed throughout the course of the game manage to shine brighter in the combat of Indivisible. During battles, players will control up to four selectable characters at a time, with each one being assigned to a face button. Each character can attack multiple times at once (up to five times total by the end game) and the properties of the attacks can be altered depending on whether the player movement remains untouched, or whether the movement is being held up or down. Each party member has different individual abilities as well as unique mechanics overall, giving a fundamentally solid combat system some nice flexibility in the long run. For example, you could have an archer who’s able to easily launch enemies into the air before juggling them, or a pyromancer who can inflict a slowing curse on enemies as well as fire-based attacks.
While it can be fun to tackle foes throughout the course of the game, it becomes extremely tiresome at times due to the general length of battles. Even fights against basic enemies can last for what feels like minutes at a time, and when each area’s fodder only has a few tactics that need to be applied to overcome them, the tiresome nature of a lot of these battles can’t be understated. Thankfully this doesn’t apply to the boss encounters, which are easily Indivisible’s strongest point. Not only do they apply unique move sets that need to be learned and countered, but they often break up the combat with some platforming elements to keep the player on their toes.
Much like Indivisible’s combat, the Metroidvania platforming sections also feel fundamentally solid. Thanks to Ajna’s allies all residing within her head, the party-based elements manage to exist separately from the platforming, with encounters being engaged at the snap of a finger when bumping into an enemy traversing the environments. The usual staples of the genre are present, with tough platforming sections being integrated into larger winding areas. The areas generally feel more linear and segmented than the typical Metroidvania however, and the game loses some of its contemporaries’ strengths because of it.
Instead of the player finding new equipment or abilities throughout the world on their own to unlock new paths, the game always gives players these additional powers at very specific points, making the exploration feel much less rewarding and more restrictive. What’s worse is that all of the different areas are segmented until a few loose connective tissues tie some of them together haphazardly towards the end of the game, removing a lot of the inherent satisfaction that comes discovering the ways areas connect to each other in other metroidvania titles.
The flaws in Indivisible’s level design and progression become most apparent in the final act of the game, where players are sent to re-traverse areas they’ve already explored. Instead of being able to burn through these past areas with new abilities that lead to clever new pathways, the progression through them ends up being very similar, with the slight variation coming from pre-determined moments.
It’s hard to truly dislike a game that tries to meld pre-existing ideas into something new, and this is true with Indivisible. However, it’s also hard to truly enjoy a game that doesn’t fully succeed in any of its key areas, and unfortunately this also applies to Indivisible. The plodding pace of combat, along with the lacklustre level design, results in a game that feels tiresome to sit through despite its endeavour to deliver something fresh.
Indivisible (Reviewed on Windows)
The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.
It’s hard to truly dislike a game that tries to meld pre-existing ideas into something new, and this is true with Indivisible. However, it’s also hard to truly enjoy a game that doesn’t fully succeed in any of its key areas, and unfortunately this also applies to Indivisible.