Crowdfunding campaigns have become a staple of independent game development in the modern age. Programs like Kickstarter help to get developers the financial support they need, while also bringing attention to their projects. In some cases, a successful campaign can catch the eye of a publisher with the resources to complete and distribute the game. This is the route followed by Lab Zero Games when working on their newest title, Indivisible.
Published by 505 Games, Indivisible is a game that combines metroidvania style exploration with a unique form of combat that leans on more tactical RPG elements. This original tale follows the story of Ajna, a feisty and rebellious youth set on a mystical adventure when her village is attacked. From here, Ajna will meet a colorful cast of friends and foes while on her journey to save the world from destruction.
A fantastic adventure
Initially, Ajna’s story hits the same major beats we’ve come to expect from an RPG. A seemingly average character goes about their regular life as usual, when they are suddenly misplaced by some sort of loss or tragedy. Soon after, we learn that there’s more to our unlikely hero that meets the eye. That being said, Indivisible manages to carve itself a different path. After the narrative is underway, Indivisible builds upon the tried and true formula in its own way.
Through her journey, Ajna meets “incarnations.” Incarnations are different characters that can be absorbed and used as allies. Each of these incarnations have their own personality, backstory, and abilities. For example, Razmi is a melancholic healer, while Dhar is an uptight soldier who fights with a sword and shield. These incarnations reside in “The Inner Realm”, a spiritual land that exists within Ajna’s mind. She can enter this are by meditating, it expands and develops as you progress through the game.
The incarnations can provide new abilities to Ajna to help her maneuver the map in new ways. Some of these abilities allow access to areas previously inaccessible. This often makes the player backtrack and revisit areas previously discovered, but I feel like this concept could’ve been taken a step further. They could’ve doubled down on the puzzles in the overworld, further enforcing the duality of the metroidvania meeting the RPG.
I really liked the “incarnations” component to Indivisible. It’s a creative way to handle allies and hub worlds within an RPG. Along with that, each character has their own reactions and opinions towards the Inner Realm, it's interesting to see how new characters feel about the spiritual land. The incarnations also have a direct influence on Indivisible’s combat and open world.
Brain over brawn
I was quite impressed with the combat design in Indivisible. When going into battle, Ajna can bring up to three of her incarnations with her. Each character has an up, down, and neutral attack. The four different fighters are mapped to one of the face buttons on the controller. The combat system is loosely turn-based, allowing characters to attack as long as one of their meters are full. There are cooldowns on all attacks, usually taking a few seconds to fully recharge. This forced me to play more strategically. Jumping into a fight, it’s tempting to just spam all four characters attacks at once. However, that barrage of fury only lasts a few moments and will leave your entire party defenseless afterwards.
I found that some characters paired well with others, and I often reshuffled my lineup to see what characters complimented each other the best. Choosing to couple certain moves with other was key to winning most of my fights. Enemy attacks also have to recharge, so timing is everything in terms of attacking, blocking, and waiting.
Successfully blocking or landing attacks will fill up the “Iddhi” meter. When full, you can select a character to unleash their Iddhi power. Iddhi power is a forceful move that is different depending on which character uses it. Attempting to block with no success will deplete the Iddhi bar.
Outside of the smartly designed mechanics, the battles in Indivisible are visually pleasing and can be a bit of a spectacle. This isn’t exclusive to combat, however. The beautiful optics extend into every part of this RPG metroidvania.
Saturday morning glory
The art design in Indivisible is truly something to marvel at. This is thanks to the hand drawn art and animation. This decision makes Indivisible look like a cartoon plucked straight out of a saturday morning lineup. Each character is uniquely composed in a way that they feel alive and distinct from one another.
The vibrant colors and art are also apparent in the world’s environments. It’s clear that Indivisible takes influence from a number of cultures and religions; the art style helps the devs to fully realize these ideas. Simply traversing the world felt like flipping through an art gallery.
Saving the day
Indivisible manages to be something fresh and new, without ever getting too outside of the box. The mechanics feel familiar, as they are an exceptional blend of of metroidvania style exploration with RPG character progression. The combat harkens back to traditional RPG gameplay, but introduces new systems that really add a fun sense of strategy. Indivisible also hosts one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse rosters of playable characters I've ever seen. All of this on the back of a story that dances around and toys with what we’d expect from a fantasy RPG, and Indivisible makes for an experience like none other in its genre.
This review is based on a digital PC code provided by the publisher. Indivisible is available now for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 for $39.99.
- Vibrant hand drawn art design
- Intuitive and strategic combat system
- Subversive story
- Would benefit for more puzzle integration