I remember playing the prototype demo for Indivisible when the Indiegogo campaign launched way back in 2015. It was a simple pitch but the idea of mixing a Metroidvania style game with Valkyrie Profile combat sounded like a match made in heaven. The execution of it, from what I played back then worked surprisingly well. They were clearly on to something, but info on the game and its development was scarce for a few years. It had kind of faded to the back of my mind, but having finally played it now, I’m happy to say that it delivered on its initial pitch and then some. It’s pretty darn good.
Indivisible follows a young girl named Ajna who’s on a quest for revenge after her village was burned to the ground and her father killed by the hands of a solider serving under a tyrant lord. Her journey ultimately leads her to discover an ancient and evil force that has long since been sealed away but is now threatening the world again and it’s up to her to stop it. It’s standard stuff in all honesty but the diverse group of characters you meet throughout the game of different ethnicities and backgrounds makes for an enjoyable and refreshing experience. That said however, the biggest issue I have with the story isn’t with its writing or characters; it’s the terrible pacing.
Things kind of just happen in this game. When Ajna’s father dies she swears to exact revenge, expresses some regret for the type of daughter she’s been and then carries on normally. It’s a bit jarring. They make no attempt to hide the fact that the game doesn’t quite take itself seriously, but it’s often at odds with itself on how it presents the story. Worst yet is the way you gain companions. Some join for logical reasons, like a prisoner joining your cause out of gratitude for saving him. While others just tag along for no good reason. You literally run into some of them while exploring and after exchanging a few lines of dialogue, they join your group. It made it hard for me to really get invested in not just the characters but the story as well but at the end of the day, it was still funny and endearing at times which at least meant it was never annoying or hard to get through. As much as I had issues with the story, the combat alone made me forget all about it.
The devs have clearly stated that the combat system draws heavy inspiration from Valkyrie Profile and even though they look similar when viewed side by side, Indivisible does enough to set itself apart, and that’s probably due to the company’s fighting game roots. Combat is turn-based and as with Valkyrie Profile, each character in your four-person party is mapped to the face button, and pressing it causes that character to attack. Each move is also governed by how many Action Points you have, which recharges during battle. You can also upgrade your AP limit which allows characters to do more actions in one turn. Basic attacks come in three flavours and each is modified by combining it with the press of either the up or down directional button or doing a neutral attack without any directional input. If an enemy targets a specific character, you can press the corresponding face button to guard where pressing it just as the attack hits mitigates much more damage than simply holding it in. It’s a very simple system at its core but the real depth and fun comes in with understanding each character’s moveset and how to effectively chain them together.
Much like fighting games, combos are your bread and butter. One character can launch an enemy into the air, while another fires a flurry of arrows at them. Meanwhile, the other characters can either build up charges to augment their next attack if they can or join in to extend the combo. There’s an addictive flow to battles that kept me engaged throughout and the amount and diversity of characters encouraged me to always change up my team. There’s also a bit of strategy that comes into play in how you compose your party. For instance, some bosses have defenses that can only be broken after they’ve been hit a certain amount of times. So one character who specializes in healing has a weak multi-hit attack which is mostly used as a way to increase the potency of their healing move but because it hits so many times, you can use it as a set up to put the enemy in a vulnerable state, creating an opening to initiate a combo. There’s also the Iddhi bar which builds up over time that you can expend to have your entire party block at the same time, resurrect fallen allies or execute a character’s super move. The Iddhi moves are glorious with my favorite being Ajna’s where she fires a massive beam of energy right across the screen which looks like Ryu’s Shinku Hadouken from the Marvel VS Capcom games. Overall, I love what they did with the combat by taking the foundation laid by Valkyrie Profile and putting their own unique spin on it.
On the Metroidvania side of things, it’s a pretty standard affair. You’ll explore environments on a 2-D plane and unlock tools as you can go along to access areas of the map you couldn’t before. I have to say though, for a game which puts such a heavy emphasis on its combat, the platforming is quite involved and can get quite tricky at times. Don’t get wrong though, this is no Celeste, but I had fun and there was a nice balance between combat and exploration. I think the most surprising thing about this game is that even though it touts itself as an RPG, there actually aren’t many RPG elements. You do level up but that’s about it. There’s no equipment or customization and the only menu you’ll spend time in is the one for switching characters in and out of your party. It’s unexpected but a nice change of pace in all honesty. Just focusing on combat and exploration without getting bogged down by stats and the usual number games associated with the genre, was a really refreshing experience.
Indivisible is just a joy to play. It’s a gorgeous looking game with a beautiful, hand-drawn art style and an addictive gameplay loop. The story has a few problems, but it still manages to entertain with its character interactions and witty sense of humor. I’m looking forward to coming back again when the guest characters such as Red from Transistor and The Drifter from Hyper Light Drifter are added to the game.
Last Updated: November 6, 2019