Disclaimer: I backed Indivisible as part of its original crowdfunding campaign for $30 in 2015.
Additional disclaimer: I completely forgot I backed Indivisible until it was released and I received an e-mail with codes.
Supplemental disclaimer to the additional disclaimer for the disclaimer: discussed whether to include this and previous disclaimers with editor, who agreed to include all disclaimers in the spirit of the fun Indivisible succeeds at.
Developer Lab Zero Games and publisher 505 Games present the platformer action RPG Indivisible for review. Indivisible aims to provide an energetic and colorful experience with standard RPG power growth broken up by sequences of skillful platforming. By gathering allies through the journey, the player may unlock various forms of tackling combat while discovering what secrets await in protagonist Ajna’s past.
Indivisible drips with colorful personality. From protagonist Ajna to the many supporting characters that fill up the roster, everyone has an immediately identifiable aesthetic that goes beyond how they’re drawn or voice acted. The cast unlocks different abilities within and around Ajna, helping shape the course of her journey without thoroughly defining it. This helps make the various unlocking of powers feel less like roadblocks and more like the characters thinking through the situation while using the tools at their disposal.
Fans of traditional RPGs will likely enjoy the added complexity this cast brings to combat where each character controls and brings unique qualities to the battlefield. The platforming sections can be difficult, so it’s possible that those playing Indivisible for just the RPG and character elements may find the platforming sections difficult roadblocks. Otherwise, Indivisible synthesizes the same character growth in combat and personality through the platforming, pushing Ajna to new heights with each beat.
I have backed some godawful crowdfunded games and been ready to give up the practice for good after the unpleasant bordering on hostile Yooka-Laylee. Then, in the same year, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night came out to prove that a strong formula taken to its ridiculous limits can still entertain. Now we’ve got Indivisible, which takes the joyful freedom of platforming, best of RPG character development, a generous pinch of fighting game experimentation, then blends it with energy and panache galore.
Indivisible most directly pulls inspiration from Valkyrie Profile but replaces VP‘s weighty spiritual stakes with something that’s less spiritual and more pop joy. Lab Zero Games embraces the rainbow with a delightful array of landscapes and character designs that manage to not overwhelm the senses. The hand-drawn visuals are just the foundation but a magnificent place to start. They did not skimp on giving even random NPCs personality with sequences that are as much fun as they are throw-away. That’s something of the point though, as Indivisible has so many strong personalities that they could all be the protagonists of their own adventure while making a cameo in Ajna’s.
The other big success of Indivisible is its platforming. These sections are difficult and don’t flow “perfectly” as Ajna has weight and momentum to her different pogo or axe climbing abilities. I’m bored with pixel perfect control emphasized in other precision platforming titles. Ajna’s steadily growing array of imperfect traversal helped me feel I was guiding a character instead of training for some kind of military-grade platforming test. The thunk of Ajna’s axe is my favorite sound as it gives me a moment to assess the platforms around me before planning my ascent or descent. It wonderfully mirrors Ajna’s growing understanding of herself and her role in the world as she finds ways of pushing herself, with the support of her friends, to literal new heights.
When Indivisible backtracks the platforming design keeps the traversal fresh. New abilities means new ways to think through familiar territory and what could have been a dull retread yields fresh powerups to the curious. These detours aren’t necessary to proceed but reward experimentation when faced with the familiar. Indivisible is almost, though coming short by just a hair, as good at creating unique platforming experiences as Iconoclasts from 2018.
Indivisible falters slightly when it comes to the combat which, on first blush, is a great extension of Valkyrie Profile‘s button-to-character battles. I loved how no two characters function the same way and encouraged experimentation with a brief explanation of what they’re capable of. This extends to the healing and the imprecise abilities of the water empath Thorani. These healing abilities are more fun than the (also delightful) Ginseng and Honey because of the potential strength in Thorani’s volatile puddle control versus G&H’s stable healing mixes. However, as fun as the combat is the enemies become damage sponges more than skill checks quickly. The first act keeps things paced excellently with enemies about as fast as your team, which kept me on my toes. After that, it’s combos combos combos with not much standing in the way between me and victory besides my patience.
My only big complaint could also be applied to the fetishized approach to character design Lab Zero Games also takes to Skull Girls. The comforting sexuality of Thorani isn’t what I’m talking about here, though you could see her gradually losing clothes as she was redesigned over time. The problem is more with characters like Yan, who is basically a bondage fetish come to life and a far cry from the Chun-Li strength her design seems meant to convey. Thorani’s perpetually moving breasts are sometimes an overly sexualized distraction from the excellent surroundings but at least the character and design are more of a strong comfort than Yan, who seems like she might have escaped from the Furi school of BDSM character design where she would have been a more fitting presence.
Indivisible is a hell of an accomplishment. Lab Zero Games managed to create a vibrant world with strong characters that leave their mark in support of Ajna's journey. The few missteps it takes are at least signs of growth from Lab Zero Games' other major project. What remains is a fantastic experience, underscored with a gorgeous soundtrack, and platforming that players of Super Mario Maker and games of its kind should study. For those able to handle both the platforming and the fun, if eventually overlong, combat, they'll find one of the best games of 2019.
- Lush hand-drawn art that's rich in personality without overwhelming the screen with detail.
- Some of the best platforming you're likely to find all year that rewards those curious during necessary backtracking.
- Consistently engaging combat that gives every character their own spin on traditional RPG roles.
- A bit of out-of-place fetishizing in character design.
- Battles quickly become overlong, if still engaging, fights against hit-point sponges.