Indivisible is an interesting game. Developed by Lab Zero Games, who also created Skullgirls, Indivisible looks great. The hand-drawn, anime aesthetic and the painted, almost watercolour backgrounds leap from the screen. Characters are animated smoothly and fluidly and exploring the game’s 2.5D sidescrolling world is a lot of fun. At least in the beginning.
Sadly, over time, Indivisible’s reliance on backtracking starts to grate. It takes its cues from Metroid but doesn’t seem to understand why exploring those games is so enjoyable.
Where the backtracking in a good Metroidvania game is satisfying, going back and forth in Indivisible isn’t. There’s lots to like about the game though and there’s plenty of reasons to play, it’s just not as fun as it should be.
Playing as Ajna, players will need to explore a world under threat from a warlike Empire and its leader hellbent on discovering the ultimate power. Ajna is incredibly likable, fun and a tomboy at heart. Having spent her entire life with her father, she is a warrior, a fighter and pushes on with determination after her village is destroyed.
However, very early on, Ajna discovers she has the ability to absorb people she meets and use them to battle and forge ahead.
While Indivisible has a definite anime flair, it’s a much more eastern flavoured, evoking the Indian subcontinent rather than Japan. And it works really well too. It feels more like an epic episodic cartoon that you’d find on a Saturday morning rather than a dark and serious anime.
Something else that elevates Indivisible is the way the characters relate to one another. Sure, there’s some adversarial conversations, some drama and some friction, but for the most part, the characters all seem to really like one another.
Think Brooklyn 99, but in cartoon form.
Combat is yet another way that Indivisible strives to separate itself from the pack. And, it mostly works.
Players are able to control a four-person party by using the face buttons on the controller. Depending on which position a party-member is placed in the party will determine which button they’re controlled by.
There’s no movement, instead, players press the face button and/or the button and combinations of direction and shoulder buttons to perform different moves and abilities. For example, one character, primarily a healer, can heal others more effectively by dealing damage to the enemy first.
Other characters can charge up additional attacks or create massive combos by performing moves in the correct sequence. Unleashing massive combos across multiple characters is also lots of fun and watching the enemy helplessly fall to your 100+ hit combo is awesome.
When enemies attack you can press the character’s button with the right timing to reduce damage and often, enemies will aim for multiple characters at once. There’s lots to keep track of and despite only using one button (for the most part) the combat is deep, complex and a whole lot of fun.
Not Bad. Not Amazing
Outside of combat, Indivisible is a sidescrolling platformer that gradually unfolds and opens up as you unlock new abilities. As I said in the beginning, it’s heavily inspired by Metroidvania titles, it just doesn’t quite pull off the backtracking trick.
Sure, initially heading back to old areas to explore something that was previously closed off is fun but it happens so often and is so frequently underwhelming in this game that after a while you’d rather just plough forward than have to go back for the umpteenth time.
That being said, some of the abilities you unlock are a lot of fun to use and muck around with. Being able to climb higher with Ajna axe is an early example of both a great ability and a visually comedic one.
While the gameplay and backtracking may grow stale, thankfully the visuals, audio and narrative keep you engaged.
It’s not a definite must play, but there’s something about Indivisible that can’t be ignored. If you’re looking for something a bit different, with lots of charm and character, then look no further.
Indivisible was reviewed using a digital copy provided to PowerUp! by the publisher.
Game Title: Indivisible