Indivisible Review

Indivisible

Developer: Lab Zero Games
Publisher: 505 Games
Released on Oct 08, 2019

Indivisible is an action-packed, fantasy RPG developed by the same guy behind the 2D fighting game, Skullgirls. Set in a mythical world of gods and demons, the protagonist is a rebellious teenage girl named Ajna with hidden powers, destined to save the world–or destroy it as the prophecy foretold. Influenced by anime, every character is hand-drawn to bring out the game’s quirky cast of “incarnations”.

I did some digging on Indivisible and was shocked to see the massive amount of support poured into the crowdfunding campaign alone. They managed to get many high-profile voice actors and music composers working together to build the game from the ground up. It was an amazing effort all around and the intro really showed the game’s crisp animation and sense of adventure.

The epic intro brought to you by Studio Trigger.

The prologue is the tutorial that teaches you about combat 101, with four heroes trying to seal away an evil goddess. The story begins with Ajna, who lives in Ashwat Village and trains daily with her father, Indr. After an argument over her family’s past, Ajna grows frustrated by the lack of answers and returns to the village which is suddenly set on fire.

Save your game by ringing the bell. Ooohhhmmm…

She confronts the man who killed her dad and accidentally absorbs him into her mind. This, of course, ends the fight scene prematurely in an unexpected way. Witnessing her town ransacked by the Navar soldiers, she swears to avenge her dead father and destroy the army’s leader, Ravannavar, once and for all.

Recently, evil spirits have been terrorizing the inhabitants of this world. They were born from the remains of the goddess, Kala, who has threatened to recreate the world many times before. One reason or another, Ajna is connected to this goddess of destruction and rebirth which causes her to be treated with fear and distrust.

We finally have an actual healer in the party.

Over the course of the game, Ajna will gain more allies to help her fight against the strange monsters taking over the forests. Things get downright weird when you realize she has an inner realm where people she meets can live inside of.

Ajna can enter her inner realm anytime by focusing chakra to talk to her teammates. Initially, this place is rather empty with only a few people setting up shop. But as you get further in the story, floating platforms will materialize with a cooking station, alchemy lab, library, flea market, and training grounds above the starry sky.

The only way to raise Ajna’s strength and defense is to exchange Ringsels, red gems scattered across the land with two traveling aliens who live in Ajna’s head. It is also a nice place to practice your button-mashing skills on some trash mobs. Later on, you’ll pick up a merchant who offers to recolor your characters’ clothes.

Indivisible’s strongest point is certainly the combat system–a turn-based, hack-and-slash sequence that tests your ability to chain combos. It does take a while to get used to because you need the right timing to block incoming enemy attacks. Most monsters have their own AOE attacks and might target a single character at random.

My rule of thumb is to keep attacking until you run out of moves and then have everyone block on the enemy’s turn. It is all timed so you have to think fast before they have an opportunity to counter your actions. If a party member gets knocked down, you can switch them out by spending an additional Iddhi bar.

Nuna summons plants to trap or interrupt enemies.

Speaking of, here is a typical combat encounter. Ajna and friends stand on one side with buttons you have to press to start attacking enemies on the right. You can select between them to check how much health they have left. Say if you press a button assigned to Ajna, then she will perform a regular attack with “A” or “Up/Down A”.

Increasing your hit count fills up the Iddhi bar which grants your party a special move in the form of a “final smackdown”. Dhar raises a pillar from the ground, Zebei fires a flurry of arrows, Qadira stabs with her shield–almost every character has a powerful finisher able to shatter the enemy’s defenses.

There are more than twenty potential recruits.

The ones that don’t already pack a serious punch in their neutral attacks anyway. Incarnations execute combos according to their build: Some are heavy hitters whereas others are glass cannons, and only three of them are actual healers. You can see their hp, attack, and speed stats in the “Party Select” menu to learn how to play them.

Baozhai the pirate queen blows up enemies with explosive cannons. Leilani does spin attacks with her shark-tooth saw. Razmi summons a cursed tiger spirit. Ren throws his sickle. Ginseng heals the party by mixing herbs. Kampan decks opponents with an iron fist. Thorani sprays water out of her hair. Kushi does aerial strikes on her pet bird.

The map shows where you are relative to other save points.

The world is divided into several maze-like areas. Indivisible has platforming mechanics outside of its combat system. You control Ajna by getting past tricky obstacles and hard-to-reach places with her newfound abilities. The forests and caves are infested with monsters so you have to prepare your team in advance. It can be confusing if you don’t know which way to go.

The underground city of Kaanul, sealed away by the Serpent Queen.

Ajna learns new abilities throughout the story. She can hang onto ledges with her ax, use a spear to jump higher, break ceilings and floors, slide under narrow spaces, dash with incredible force, and even shoot arrows to create a lotus bridge over dangerous spikes. You’ll need all of them to access secret areas that may have hidden Ringsels to collect. You are treated to a cutscene once you reach an important destination.

The Heruka Hustle allows Ajna to run against desert winds.

Strangely enough, Ajna does not take any fall damage, despite being vulnerable to monster attacks if she approaches one. To safely traverse platforms, you might need to think fast.–Some puzzles are timed, requiring you to activate a series of blocks that disappear after you step on them. It manages to be both frustrating and rewarding when you finally do succeed.

The cutscenes are pretty good. The voice acting has a lot of personality in it as well. While I thought the story’s pacing was too rushed, I did enjoy watching them interact or voice their opinions on Ajna’s actions, especially Razmi with all her snarky comments. I suppose it’s not easy to cram 24 characters into a single beat em’ up RPG.

The gang before they scale Mount Sumeru.

Almost everyone takes an immediate liking to Ajna, remarking on her determination to save the world from Kala. They all have reasons to join Ajna’s cause, to protect the people, or to continue their journey. Even Dhar has a redemption arc where he realized his mistakes. You’ll get to know them better if you complete their side quests.

Boss battles are another main mechanic of the game. They always transform into a monstrous form if you defeat their first phase. The strategy for fighting them is similar to a regular encounter, except there may be platforms in between the stages, forcing Ajna to catch up to them or avoid the incoming projectiles.

Bosses are often invincible until you pierce their defenses but you still need to wait for an opening to attack. Big monsters will usually summon minions to do their bidding. A few bosses stay out of combat unless you shoot them down or hit them with a counter move. If they use blue or yellow attacks, those must be blocked with precise timing.

The real fun begins at Port Maerifa, a busy trading center housing the Tower of Wisdom. From there, she could fast travel to many locations such as the Iron Kingdom, Kaanul, and Tai Krung through ley line portals. The other option is to sail the open seas with Baozhai on her ship nicknamed the Teotul. The goal is to align the three chakra gates to unlock Lhan where Kala is hiding.

The Iron Kingdom is ruled with a literal iron fist.

These locations introduce new obstacles like the bouncy slime walls and floating water columns to help you get around. Then you get to use the spear as a pogo stick to bounce on electric generators or across spiked floors. Kaanul definitely resembles an ancient Mayan civilization. And Tai Krung reminds me of the street vendors in Taiwan.

One of Indivisible’s strong points is the background art. It immerses the player in each area to take their mind off of the platforming. I do wish that you had the ability to teleport to specific save points as that would save a lot of time on backtracking to retrieve quest items. That was the real reason I never bothered to finish all the side quests.

A chakra gate connected to Tai Krung city.

Despite the game’s flaws, I felt like it did many things right. I got a kick out of switching out party members to find better strategies for taking down monsters as some are weak to uppercuts and others are immune to magic attacks. I did enjoy the world-building and how the NPC dialogue changes after you complete each area.

The Metroidvania elements provide a decent challenge for anyone who has played titles like Hollow Knight and has gotten lost in its subterranean environments with endless inter-connected maps to explore. Indivisible takes an unexpected turn by including concepts from Buddhist mythology into the lore itself.

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