Embracing Tranquility And Chaos

HIGH Well-established characters and robust combat.

LOW It’s not the best at explaining some mechanics.

WTF Literally losing your head in a sporting match.

Meet Ajna — she’s a rebellious young woman living on the outskirts of society with her father Indr. She asks him about the mother she never knew and while he dodges the question, their village is attacked and he dies before revealing the truth. Ajna vows to get revenge and awakens a new power that will change her life forever.

Indivisible is an action RPG developed by Lab Zero games. Players take control of Ajna to explore the world, solve problems (normally by beating them into submission) and recruit allies known as Incarnations to help in her fight. The colorful cast, beautiful landscape, and rewarding exploration ranked this title high on my list of 2019’s best, but incomplete tutorials and combat glitches kept it from the top.

The characters are the real stars of Indivisible. All of them vibrant and colorful, and the list that can be recruited is diverse. There’s a warrior mother, a pessimistic shaman, a botanist, a disabled dancer and more. Indivisible also makes every character viable by making them match Anja’s level, which means there’s no harm in testing out team combinations for fear of leaving some underleveled, and no EXP grinding is necessary.

Despite how straightforward the story begins, the way it asks questions about what it means to do the right thing and what revenge truly costs were refreshing surprises. It felt real to see characters like Dhar, the soldier who lead the attack on Ajna’s village, reconcile with his choices and with Ajna. Indivisible also shows characters at odds with Anja. Zebi, an archer of a monastic order, wanted to leave the party for the longest time until Ajna atoned for her mistakes.

When it’s not being serious, the game is hilarious. The shaman Razmi always has a one-liner about the world she’s completely disillusioned with, and Baozai the rowdy pirate queen becomes a bashful schoolgirl in the presence of another female member of the cast. It’s one of the first titles in a long while that had me cackling as I was playing.

Combat in Indivisible is a departure from traditional RPG-style combat, and ends up feeling similar to a fighting game.

Each character in the party (a maximum of four) is mapped to a face button on the controller, and they can attack when an action bar fills. Pairing a character’s attack button with a direction (up or down) will result in a different attack, like a knockdown or a juggle. Players then have to combine these attacks to defeat enemies — one character’s juggle might bring a flying enemy down so another can hit it, or combining a knockdown with a juggle might break the guard of an enemy. Some attacks can even heal instead of harm.

With careful management it’s possible for players to make attack combos go for minutes without letting the enemy get a hit in, but there’s a bit of a problem — each attack has a different effect, so players will need to watch carefully when they fight. Things are quick and hectic, party members can’t be swapped in the middle of a fight, and with all of the numbers and sounds flashing onscreen, it’s easy to accidentally heal an enemy.

Players also have to be wary of where they fight. It’s important to note that battles don’t take place in separate environments — the places that require platforming are the same areas where fights occur, and as they explore, players will come across insta-death spikes or endless drops. If a fight starts near them and a character falls prey to these hazards in a battle, they’re instantly killed and removed from the fight. 

Because of these spikes and pits, I was forced to go through previous platforming areas again just to get back to a creature and retry a fight, even if I was winning before the hazard got me. Other times the landscape was arranged in such a way that I wasn’t able to hit the enemy and they weren’t able to hit me, forcing me to restart so I could try to restart the fight in a different area. While I appreciate the immersion of having battle occur wherever I interact with enemies, I wish it didn’t turn the environment into an enemy.

I adore Indivisible. I enjoyed all of the characters, I appreciated how the story made Ajna reconcile with her choices, and as a fighting game player I loved the style of combat. Even though some of the hiccups had me muttering unkind words, Indivisible still sits with me as one of my favorites of 2019.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Disclosures: This game is developed by Lab Zero and published by 505 games.  It is currently available on PC, Switch, Xbox One and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 30 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated T and contains Suggestive themes, Fantasy Violence, and Blood. There are some fights where the cutscenes get a bit bloody, and there is a character who is a water goddess who wears mildly suggestive clothing. There is a lot of fighting in this fantasy world with dangerous creature and other humans.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Characters are voiced, but there are also text boxes for each voice. While the text is not resizable, the game does allow players to have the text box stay on screen as long as possible. There are no audio cues necessary for play. This game is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Controls are fully remappable.

Eugene Sax
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