Indivisible is a rare thing: A crowdfunded video game that actually delivers. Originally announced back in 2015, Indivisible is a turn-based RPG with Metroidvania exploration elements. It features hand-drawn animations and an art-style influenced by various Asian cultures. Like many others, I’ve been waiting for this game to drop since it was first announced. I’m happy to say that the end result is near perfection. Indivisible is one of the most beautiful and rewarding gameplay experiences of 2019.
Indivisible takes the standard “chosen one” tale we’ve seen hundreds of times before but presents it in a cool and unique way. You play as the plucky Ajna. She lives in a quaint jungle village and spends her days practicing martial arts and getting into arguments with her stern but loving father. After agents of an evil empire destroy her village, Ajna sets off on a journey to avenge the ones she’s lost. Along the way, she meets others who’ve also felt the sting of the empire’s blade. As she journeys with her companions. Ajna learns about her true nature and what it means to believe in oneself.
While turn-based, battles play out in real-time. You’ll have to wait for an action bar to fill before you can initiate another attack. Think of the Active Time Battle system of Final Fantasy. What makes Indivisible’s combat more immediate is how you can perform different attacks by pressing up or down on the left analog stick. If you have a full party of four, you can hit foes with multi-hit combos. This fighting game style of combat doesn’t come as a surprise considering Indivisible is from the same folks who brought us Skullgirls. Mastering combat is one of the most satisfying aspects of the game.
The characters in your roster (called Incarnations) have their own distinct attacks and abilities. Some are melee fighters while others attack with ranged weapons. Some play support roles and provide the party with heals and buffs. The party collectively has a meter that fills up after successfully landing or parrying attacks. Once this meter fills, characters can either unleash devastating attacks or heal the entire party. You’re free to swap characters in and out of your rotation. You don’t have to worry about anyone becoming under-leveled as even inactive members level up with the rest of the party. This encourages players to try different combinations even when new characters become available later in the game.
The other half of the gameplay is exploration. Ajna will occasionally come across areas of the map she cannot access. As she gains new abilities from her allies, she can then return to these areas and further explore them. For example, Ajna will obtain an axe which she can use to chop down vines. She can also use the axe to elevate herself to higher areas. I won’t spoil it here, but some abilities allow Ajna to explore the world in unique and fun ways. Platforming isn’t as precise or smooth as I’d like. But once you get the hang of the somewhat stiff mechanics, exploring the world becomes rewarding.
Indivisible keeps things light when it comes to upgrades. Aside from red stones used as currency to improve your offense and defense, there is no upgrade system whatsoever. The main focus is on the individual characters’ skills and how to best utilize them during combat. It’s a refreshing change of pace if you’re tired of every game having some kind of complicated upgrade or crafting system.
Boss battles are where combat truly comes to life. Parrying attacks, knowing when to heal, and waiting for the right opportunity to unleash combos are the keys to victory. Bosses will occasionally leave the battlefield and throw different obstacles at you. These take the form of small enemies and environmental hazards like acid dripping from the ceiling. You’ll even have to navigate through platforming sections during some of the later boss battles. Though some bosses tend to absorb way too much damage before they go down, fighting these creatures is always a blast.
Aside from the engaging combat, Indivisible’s biggest highlight is its presentation. Each character and monster comes to life via gorgeous hand-drawn animations. Even simple things like Ajna’s basic running loop looks amazing. There were certain instances where I lost battles simply because the animations mesmerized me so much. Making the already wonderful animations pop even more is the bright and vibrant color palette. Seriously, you can take a screenshot of any moment of this game and frame it on a wall. My words cannot properly convey just how gorgeous Indivisible looks.
As someone who has watched Indivisible since its reveal, I can unequivocally say it was well worth the way. It reminds me of the type of RPGs I used to enjoy on the Sega Saturn. Like Cuphead, it demonstrates how awesome hand-animated games look on modern consoles. Its combat system is the epitome of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” While the platforming sections aren’t all that, they do a nice job of breaking up the combat. If you haven’t been keeping an eye on Indivisible, you owe it to yourself to try it. It really is an awesome experience.
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