A symphony worth profiling?
Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Genre: 90s JRPG In Lush 2019 2D Southeast Asian Aesthetics
Fantasy RPG Indivisible is a byproduct from people who love fighting games and 2D exploration platformers who also happen to love the art and culture of Southeast Asia. From the padi field village where our heroine Ajna lives to the seedy underbelly reminiscent of Manila’s ugly side, complete with its nod to the ever-famous fast-food chain Jollibee, you can see and feel the love put into its backdrops & detail.
And that’s not even mentioning the fluidity and anime-slash-Western-art fusion style going on with the game’s party members and the way they grace the screen. In a way, that’s also a key element you need to pay attention to once you experience your first-ever fight with a full party.
“Valkyrie”ing & Profilin’
See, Ajna has the ability to “store” people in her mind via the Inner Realm from your repentant warriors to your oddball botanists. Whenever she fights in combat, she and her party members are mapped onto your face buttons on your pad. Pressing them will make them attack a target enemy.
Conversely, you can block and mitigate enemy damage by pressing the same face buttons; press the left bumper button if you want all of your party to block simultaneously.
Here’s where it gets interesting; each character has different forms and styles of attacks and gimmicks. Ajna is straightforward: she can do a regular attack, perform lows and launch attacks by pressing down or up plus the attack button to respectively guard break or juggle foes. Edgelord Dhar can store up to 12 charges and then launch them later for massive damage. The aforementioned botanist Ginseng can heal Ajna and company; its effectiveness is based on how many attacks she’s performed.
And then there’s the super meter on the top part of the screen: once it’s filled up, you can launch a barrage of special character skills and attacks to turn the tide of battle. Or you can just press both bumper buttons on your controller to resurrect whoever KOed in-game.
If you’ve played 1999’s Valkyrie Profile, you’ll know what to do here.
This is just a small sample of the diversity and fighting game influence Indivisible has to offer, and it’s glorious. Half the fun is recruiting the characters you want, and then testing them out in combat to see what power combination works. I’m a pretty straightforward bruiser, so my Ajna is accompanied with the AoE-focused Tungar, mortar-focused Baozhai, and quasi-healer Thorani.
If you want to get creative, you can experiment with the more unique party members like Hunoch/Xiboch, a twofer character with physical and magical ball slams, and Kushi, who is basically Samurai Shodown‘s Nakoruru.
Coupled with the sound design and simple screen effects playing to the ethnic-influenced works of Hiroki Kikuta, and you’ll have a blast connecting hits and doing your own figurative combo video in this facsimile Southeast Asian fantasy land.
A Different Symphony
The other brunt of the game is the Metroidvania structure of exploring Indivisible’s many locales. As you progress the 2D landscape, Ajna will learn new skills to overcome obstacles. She can pole-vault to hard-to-reach places or use special arrows to cover up vertical hazards so she can wall jump her way to the top.
Earlier sections that were barred can be revisited once you unlock a majority of Ajna’s tools and powers. Should you get killed by a pitfall or four, you’ll just resurrect a few steps away; no muss, no fuss.
Usually, these secret caches hold power-ups that improve Ajna’s defense and offense. Granted, the game won’t take you that long to get strong and uncover most of its hidden areas -20 hours or less give or take- but for what you’re paying for, it’s worth the effort. Not many games give you many options to either partake or avoid combat; Indivisible not only satisfies in delivering but at least gives you a healthy amount of choices.
She Is Legion
It’s a shame that the game got a bit easy at the last few hours of the game. If you’re a diligent RPG fan who relishes in the game’s fun combat, chances are you’ll unlock a great party with ample physical and magical attack combos. Or you’re at level 40 or so and can literally button-mash your way to victory.
Still, Indivisible‘s early and mid-game journey is a thrill ride that will hit your nostalgic buttons in the right places, as well as create a fresh experience with its melding of multiple genres into one cohesive package.
I’d honestly be shocked if this Lab Zero creation isn’t on any RPG aficionado’s top 10 list of 2019. This labour of love is more than enough to put most RPG-focused bigwig companies to shame.
- Lovely art & sound.
- Fun real-time arcade combat with depth.
- Diverse cast with cute & funny personalities & stories.
- Becomes a mash-happy cakewalk in the last third of the game.
FINAL SCORE: 90/100