Four years on from its successful Kickstarter campaign, Lab Zero Games’ Indivisible comes to PlayStation 4 with a decent degree of anticipation. Described as an experience that combines a number of different genres into one cohesive undertaking, the final product comes together much better than you might think. Indivisible is sure to please RPG and Metroidvania fans alike, but it’s not without its faults.
On a quest to avenge the death of her father and the burning of the village she inhabits, Ajna is just as much naive as she is full of heart. The protagonist quickly sets out on a journey to rid the world of such evil, recruiting a charismatic bunch of teammates to her cause along the way. And it’s those eccentric interactions that keep the narrative going, because outside of some light-hearted twists and turns, the main plot isn’t particularly noteworthy.
It’s just sort of fine. Enough to keep you going, but not one that you’ll back on with any sort of reverence. That task lays at the feet of the party members you meet along the way, all of which come with their own personalities, traits, and quips. Some will feel like your new best friend five minutes after meeting them while others will grate on you for the entire journey. We suppose this is intentional, but there are a handful of characters whose dialogue you’ll want to skip almost immediately thanks to questionable voice acting and quirks.
Nevertheless, each and every one of them feed into the game’s battle system where you’ll assemble a party of four to take on the beasts and combatants of the world. Consistently likened to the PSone classic Valkyrie Profile, you’ll assign the characters of your choosing to four different positions on the battlefield, each of which corresponds to a face button on the PS4’s controller. You’ll then wait for their meters to build up before sending them into battle to deal damage, and it’s here where things get creative.
In waiting for your party members to build up their meters, they gain access to a larger amount of attacks they can perform in any one instance. This means you can unleash a melee of strikes upon an unsuspecting enemy if you give it enough time, resulting in a flashy takedown that leaves their health bar in tatters. Better yet, doing this fuels the Iddhi meter which gives you the opportunity to finish a foe off with any one of your party’s special abilities.
With blocks to perfect, directional attacks to make, guard breaks, and air juggling to take into account, Indivisible’s battle system goes as deep as you want to make it. With so many party members to choose from, more than 20 in fact, the sheer amount of experimentation on offer as attacks sync with each other is really quite impressive.
The problem is that the difficulty of said battles isn’t what we could consider consistent. Spikes are aplenty as you go from one encounter to the next, with the first being a breeze and the next testing your abilities to the absolute limit. There’s no real consistency or natural progression, meaning frustration can set in quickly after an hour’s worth of easy wins.
What links these tests of might together is intricate, enjoyable platforming that takes advantage of all manner of abilities to help you reach new heights. The wall jump and dash are what you’ll use to get about the most, but the game quickly introduces new mechanics to keep things fresh. The axe that Ajna uses in battle doubles up as a makeshift pickaxe that you can dig into a wall and propel yourself upwards, while an assortment of other objects will have you clearing gaps and reaching ledges you never thought possible.
In contrast to combat, progression is much more natural as it gives you just enough tools to access a handful of secrets as well as keeping you guessing about the pathways you can’t access at the time. Simply traversing the range of environments you encounter on your travels is by far the most enjoyable thing about Indivisible.
Accompanying those locations is an art style that’s nothing short of stunning. The hand-drawn textures bring colourful, bold life to the game’s cast of individuals as well as beautiful backgrounds that’ll catch your eye at every turn. Along with visually fantastic enemy designs, there’s always something pleasing to marvel at.
Despite running into one too many difficulty spikes, Indivisible successfully blends the RPG and Metroidvania genres into one stunning experience. Its plot may be simple and some characters bothersome, but the 2D platforming that bridges the gap between those narrative beats is a dream. Indivisible is a little bit too forgettable in a couple of aspects, but it makes up for that when the tough gets going.