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  1. #1

    [NSW/PC/PS4/XBO] Indivisible

    I'm playing the recently released Switch physical version; the digital version has been available for some time, along pretty much every active format at the time; Indivisible is available on Steam and is compatible with Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

    Indivisible is the result of an IndieGoGo campaign that barely made its goal, and it kinda shows. The game's graphics are lush, with wonderful animations and good environments. There are a few animations here and there, but most cutscenes are just a series of static images with some kind of music theme underscoring the events shown. Music doesn't quite live up to the graphics, but the voice acting is quite good...although you must really like Americans trying to make accents.

    Indivisible takes inspiration from Valkyrie Profile, with Ajna, the main character, moving around dungeons and cities via some light platforming. And I dislike the platforming in Indivisible. Movement in general feels a bit stiff, so is jumping around. There's no ledge grab, instead you have to rely on Ajna's axe to attach yourself to a ledge and jump up. Even after a few hours of play, I still forget there's no ledge grab and have Ajna fall to her doom.
    Well, not really doom, as there's no falling damage and very few areas have spikes or other hazards. In general, platforming and exploration feels like it was done for people not that experienced in platformers, and that makes it not so good for people that are. It must also be noted that the developers, Lab Zero Games, only produced one title prior to Indivisible, Skull Girls, so it might also be due to inexperience. And yes, Lab Zero no longer exists. I'll save the various shenanigans sorrounding Indivisible, its IndieGoGo, and Lab Zero in general.

    The most developed aspect of Indivisible is the combat. Combat is in real time, with no turns, and with the four face buttons controlling directly the four active characters. After attacking you need to wait for a while until the cooldown is over, and this is usually when enemies attack; you defend by pressing either L (group defence) or the face button corresponding to the character being attacked.
    Character attacks are modified by pressing one of the directions on the d-pad, and combinations are used to destroy enemy shield and the like. There's a good number of possible party members that specialize in various roles (healers, tanks, DPS, all-rounders, debuffers) and each have their own gimmick, but having someone in the frontline doesn't mean they'll get attacked more often, and so I've found no real reason why not filling your party with just DPS. Debuffers and healers are fine in theory, but Ajna has the ability to heal the whole party with a full meter and once you understand how the battle system works, it's easy to keep all your characters healthy without a character that doesn't really do much against enemies.

    All boss battles I've fought so far have also been multi-staged, and when bosses switch phase, your characters are healed anyway. Compared to recent Valkyrie Profile-alikes like Exist Archive and Fallen Legion, there isn't much strategy in composing your party in Indivisible, which is a bit of a letdown, considering that the battle system itself is heavily reminiscent of a fighting game, with parries, throw escapes, and correct timing to continuously juggle enemies launched in the air.

    Battles against mobs take a bit too long for my tastes, but there aren't that many in any given dungeon. This should be good for exploration, but labyrinths aren't particularly complex and some of them require a lot of backtracking without respawining enemies, maing the whole experience rather dull.

    On my journey I've encountered only two minor bugs: the first, which seems not to happen anymore, was a series of black lines rotating around sprites during battle; at first I thought it was some error in the sprite's transparency or bad scaling, but I've never encountered it after the starting area.
    Second, doors and switches that need to be activated to proceed visually reset to their "off" state, but are still activated. Nothing major, but a bit annoying.
    And last, for Switch users only: the in-game timer continues to tick down even on stand-by if you don't quit the game, and so my savefile already has 80 hours logged in when I actively played the game for 6 or 7.

    A good effort so far despite the shortcomings.

  2. #2
    Almost at the end of the game, and oh boy I wish Indivisible was a good five to ten hours shorter...

    The game becomes partially non-linear after confronting the first main bad guy, with four locations to which Ajna can travel to. In perfect search-action style, you need specific abilities to complete these stages, so there's a good amount of back-and-forth inside stages and between locations.
    Unfortunately there's no fast-travel, unless if you reach the end of a stage and then teleport to another location entirely. There are a lot of shortcuts, but more often than not shortcuts meant to let you travel faster between portions of a stage are designed to be used with the same ability meant to clear the stage, and going back and forth within locations becomes boring fast.
    Enemies do not respawn, which is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing because combat becomes stagnant no matte how many new playable characters you encounter, a curse because this leaves you wandering around stages with nothing to do other than watching the huge variety of NPCs around. On that subject, Indivisible has its share of backers-turned-NPCs, as well as a collection of cameos like The Baz, Plauge Of Gripes, Mike Z, and Zone-tan. You might know or not who those personalities are, but if you do, they are nice the first time you encounter them.

    I tried several party compositions trying to give combat a bit of variety, but to no avail. I appreciate the sheer number of characters available (some of them hidden and/or requiring to complete a secondary quest), their variety, and how different they play, and if they were standalone characters in a fighting game, it would be great. However, as a team in a JRPG they stand alone, with no entertwining abilities, preferred position, or something with a more tactical approach to combat. There are a couple of healers and debuffers, but with the combat system relying on beat'em'up-like blocks and parries, it's easy to greatly limit damage or downright nullify damage to your party, and if you really need a heal, Anja can do that with a full meter. The same meter is used to execute special attacks, but I've never found those particularly more damaging than a standard combo, and so I've always kept my meter for heals. Healing also becomes less and less important as you go on, even if you focus upgrades on offence. I did upgrade defence once, but most mob enemies are HP sponges, so I wanted as much power as possible to go through those battles quickly. And I still haven't found a way to escape battles, if that is even possible.
    On the other hand, bosses go down surprisingly quickly and don't do that much more damage than standard enemies either. All bosses have fighting phases alternating with "platforming" phases in which you have to do something to fight them again, like hitting them enough times or use the environment to do so. This does spice things up a bith, but not that much.

    Ajna acquires a lot of traversing abilities, but location layouts aren't that original and a lot of the travesing puzzles involve a mix of wall-jumping, ledge grabbing, and dashing. It's not particularly difficult or engaging, and this coumpounds on the boredom of going through stages.
    I have to mention that the camera at times doesn't correctly frame Ajna in the center of the screen, leading to a lot of run-stop-run, hoping that the camera would catch up. In the most egregious situations the camera will be angled in a way that the terrain (in 3D) would actually lead you to believe you are closer to a surface than you actually are, making Ajan fall to her doom (spikes) and thus resetting you to the last checkpoint. Luckily this doesn't happen very often.

    I still think Indivisible is an OK game, but the more I play, the more its faults become evident. The ideas are in the right place, but the lack of experience and focus on certain elements that don't quite gel well together the game's style might make for a very irritating experience.

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