While not without its moments, Indivisible isn’t quite as satisfying to play as it is to look at.
Developer: Lab Zero Games
Publishers: 505 Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date: October 8, 2019
As a person who enjoys good things, one of my most anticipated of this fall semester is season 4 of My Hero Academia. Perhaps my excitement for the popular anime is what fueled my initial interest in, thanks to its art style, Indivisible, from developer Lab Zero Games. The visual flair of the game should come as no surprise, as it comes from the same team behind the eccentric 2012 fighting game Skullgirls. But despite the props my anime-loving self would give to the game, does it succeed as a whole? Unfortunately, Indivisible is a bit rough around the edges.
Indivisible follows the story of Ajna, a rebellious young girl who is flung into an adventure after her village is attacked by evil forces. As a result of the attack, Ajna discovers she possesses incredible hidden powers that may be the key to a worldwide apocalypse. So, like many fantasy stories of this ilk, Ajna goes on a journey to discover the truth about herself and make new friends and allies along the way. It’s a fairly simple story that, while hardly revolutionary, serves as an entertaining excuse to explore the many different environments that the world has to offer.
Lab Zero GamesEven though the story, at its base, isn’t particularly gripping or emotional, there are a myriad of incredibly likable and eccentric characters. This is in large part due to the voice acting, which is great. The writing serves each character appropriately and makes you actually want to read through the many dialogue sequences that pop up.
One character in particular, Razmi (voiced by Stephani Sheh), is so darn hilarious that I took every opportunity I could to engage in conversations with her. I’m a sucker for cynical humor, especially when it comes from characters with mostly-dead tigers over their backs (this is actually just a descriptor of Razmi and no one else in particular. Although, I’m kind of convinced my 4th-grade teacher was kind of like her except minus the humor and smart dialogue).
Outside of simply hearing them speak, however, differing characters and personalities are kind of at the core of the Indivisible experience. Early on in the game, Ajna figures out that she has the power to absorb the people she meets and have them reside inside her mind. At any point in the game, outside of battles, you can then enter Ajna’s inner realm and interact with these “incarnations” (the term the game uses for characters that have joined you) and utilize them on your journey. Ajna’s inner realm essentially functions as a hub world for keeping track of information you’ve gathered, and later on as a way to train, boost your stats, and even change the wardrobe of each character to your liking. It’s mostly a gimmick, but it works.
When it comes to the core gameplay, Indivisible functions as an action-RPG with some platforming mixed in. Battles involve Ajna and her various allies/incarnations ganging up on enemies, with the four face buttons on the controller corresponding to each character. It’s your job to decide when, and in what order, you wish to send your characters to attack, while also controlling when they can defend. Each character can use their action points independently and at any point you see fit, which means it isn’t entirely turn-based. The key with combat in Indivisible is mastering different incarnations and utilizing their distinctive playstyles in ways that they better play off one another.
You’ll find that each incarnation’s strengths vary greatly. Some might be better-suited for getting in close against enemies, others with ranged attacks, or a combination of both. Timing your attacks and assembling a team that provides a balance of all these things is what will prevail. In a way, the combat feels like a fighting game in which you need to string combos together in order to prevent your opponent from ever getting the upper-hand.
There isn’t the typical grind of leveling-up characters in Indivisible that you traditionally see in other RPG’s, but instead an emphasis on trying out new combinations of playstyles that you see fit. There’s certainly something satisfying about pulling off combos that involve straight-forward axe attacks that can launch an enemy into the air followed by a series of arrows magic spells that inflict more damage on them while they’re airborne. You can also utilize your “Iddhi” bar, which essentially acts as a magic meter that allows you to use different special moves.
While this may sound all well and good, I found the combat in Indivisible to be, in a way, superficial. It’s certainly not boring, and it’s fun to try out new incarnations, but there is considerable lack of depth or challenge here. The battles look amazing, but they lose a bit of their luster the further you progress into the game. Boss battles are especially underwhelming, with the exception of the early-on and late-game ones, and I found that most encounters became repetitive.
Bizarrely, the biggest challenges in the game would involve seemingly innocuous creatures that, for reasons I could not understand, had the ability to one-hit KO each member of my party if I didn’t time my blocks absolutely perfectly. It was maddening, in fact, that at any moment I might stumble upon a battle that was, especially early on in the game, practically unbeatable since I had not yet acquired the incarnations that made these one-hit enemies more bearable. So instead, I had to focus on avoiding certain fights like the plague. You’d think the game would offer some sort of advice or tips on how to deal with these sporadic spikes in difficulty, but it doesn’t, and that’s just plain rude.
Another aspect of gameplay in Indivisible is the platforming, which is solid enough that it plays like a decent distraction when you may be getting tired of the sometimes repetitive battle system. There’s even a little Metroid-Vania style with it, as you’ll gain new powers and abilities for Ajna to use in order to discover new areas. You’ll definitely want to try circling back to old areas with the abilities you unlock to collect “Ringsels”, a kind of gem artifact that can be used to make offensive and defensive upgrades. It’s all fine, and that’s kind of the story of what Indivisible is like from a gameplay perspective: Fine.
The game, as a whole, is beautiful to look at and be immersed in. The hand-drawn art style is clearly the selling point, but I wish that playing it was more fulfilling. There’s nothing particularly bad about the gameplay; there’s just not a lot of depth or any equally-engaging moments as there are with the characters and visual aesthetic. It reminds me of my experience with a game like Kingdom Hearts II: the story and visuals are there, but the gameplay starts to show how streamlined and tedious it is the more time you spend with it.
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.