It would not be a surprise if you thought a role-playing game by developers known for fighting games would not live up to expectations, but if Lab Zero Games’ first foray into the genre with Indivisible is anything to go by, consider us ready for even more. With its brand of precise 2D platforming, coupled with its great combat, and a story that get its hook into you from the start, this is one RPG you will not want to miss this year.
A world of its own
The first aspect of Indivisible that stands out is the outstanding art direction. From the characters to the world you will explore, there is not a single instance where the art fails to capture the attention. From the village you start off in, Indivisible brings you on a journey to exotic marketplaces, a bustling port, dangerous jungles, and more, each environment oozing with style and personality that meshes the 2D sprites into the 3D backgrounds so seamlessly.
It almost feels like a living, breathing world that many would love to be in, and that is a testament to the hard work of the artists and developers who crafted a gorgeous world that is breathtaking to look at, no matter how far you are into the game.
The animations are top-notch as well, diverse enough for the myriad of characters that breathe life into Indivisible, and their designs are all eye-catching and colorful. To say that Indivisible is a feast for the eyes is an understatement.
Two halves of the same coin
Indivisible tells a story of duality, where the real world ventures into the spiritual and vice versa. It is here where the tale of Ajna, our heroine begins. As the daughter of one of the heroes who helped banished the evil Kala years before, all Ajna knows is peace, a stability that is soon shattered when her village is beset upon by invaders.
The premise is familiar, no doubt, but what Indivisible does differently is where it goes on from there. As part of her journey of revenge, Ajna’s character develops way beyond the one-dimensional hero trope that the genre is known for. Through the meeting of new allies and the countless trials and tribulations that await, Ajna and the player will learn more about their place in this world, and how adopting a new perspective on things can make a world of difference.
Ajna is special and of vital importance to Indivisible and its story, and her place at the center of it all feels earned and well-deserved at the end of everything. While the villain’s plan of destruction is plain and straightforward, the growth of both Ajna and her allies are nothing but, giving us plenty to chew on, especially with a large cast of characters to love.
Indivisible‘s take on spirituality and the inspirations it draws on from the likes of Buddhism and the idea of balance help elevate the story beyond the genre’s tropes, and will keep you coming back for more to see the story till the end.
The motley crew
A hero does not fight alone, and in Indivisible‘s case, there can never be too many characters to help Ajna on her adventures. With over 20 allies to find and recruit, you will be hard-pressed to not find one you have an affinity to. A personal favorite is that of Ramzi, one of the earliest characters you will meet. An eccentric pyromancer who is impossibly curious and possesses no restraints, she has some of the best lines of dialogue you will hear in an RPG.
There is also the pirate captain Baozhai, the moody Dhar, the water-wielding Thorani, Kushi and her pet roc Altun, there are simply too many memorable party members. Whether you want to laugh out loud or have a sombre reminder of the realities of the world, Indivisible has you covered with its precise writing.
The voice-acting and artwork certainly help as well, fleshing out each character with their distinct personalities and traits. The whole experience in Indivisible is a rare combination of emotional highs blended splendidly with moments of brevity and wit that makes for roaring good time.
Getting into scrapes
The diverse cast and their quirks also extend into the semi-turned-based combat that keeps Indivisible moving along. The game gives you control over each individual in your party of four, while turns are split amongst the enemy and your entire party. Each party member is assigned to a face button, such as the X or O button, and pressing said button will either execute an attack or block during the enemy’s turn.
However, there is more depth to it than first appears. Directional commands combined with face buttons will unleash different attacks, be it a special move, aerial attack, or an attempt to knock the enemy into the air. Plus, each character has their own variations on the moves, and special attacks of their own that can make for devastating combos.
Take Kushi for example, she can either attack with Altun, or change into a different stance where Altun ferries her. Each mode presents the player with different attacks, which will come in handy in certain situations. Combine her crowd control ability to lump enemies together, and you can transition that into Dhar’s powerful sword swing to hit everybody at once, then throw in Ramzi’s fire to finish things off. This is but one example of many, and it is an enjoyable time trying to figure out the best combinations to take down the tough foes, and experimenting is a key part of Indivisible.
Making my way downtown
Outside of the combat, Indivisible has some serious platforming chops, allowing players to slide, wall-jump, and manoeuvre around the world seeking hidden secrets and to progress. Just when you are getting comfortable with the standard platforming, the game throws you even more ways to interact with the world.
From getting an axe to climb higher up walls to a spear that can double as a jumping boost, Indivisible has created a gameplay loop that is addictive, especially to completionists. Venturing back to old areas with newfound skills will more often than not yield rewarding secrets, and give you even more time to appreciate the work that went into creating the different areas.
Roses and thorns
That is not to say Indivisible is perfect on all fronts, with the combat balance being a particular sticking point. While the party is generally able to level up pretty quickly and stay competitive with the different enemies, there can be sudden peaks that raises the bar to the point of being frustrating. It is one thing to introduce a challenging mechanic that players can learn to overcome, it is another to have an enemy with too much health.
It is possible to grind, but it will only sour the otherwise impressive experience of Indivisible. Yet, leading up to the finale, the difficulty also plateaus in a head-scratching way that renders strategy more of a choice rather than a vital tool in your arsenal, and the battles almost fight themselves. For the fighting game background that Lab Zero Games boasts, the lack of balance is quite baffling.
Be it the interesting cast of characters, the excellent world-building and plot, or the satisfying combat and platforming, Indivisible has it all in spades. While there are small missteps here and there, they do little to take away from the fact that Lab Zero Games have a gem on their hands, and we are all lucky to be on this journey with Ajna and her crew.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
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