Generally, I just don’t get into turn-based RPG’s. The main reason for this is that I don’t have complete control of my character, for the most part. Sure, they listen to my tactical advice and I watch everything unfold, but the final blow is delivered for me, instead of letting me feel that certain victory for myself. It’s not a bad thing, but it makes me feel more like a sideline viewer rather than someone that did all the work. These games still tell stories, but I want to be involved in every aspect.
Indivisible, from the team at Lab Zero Games, does do things a little differently in this regard. It still has you tactically taking on enemies with a range of attacks. But now, you command your soldiers in real time, unleashing combos that can be chained together with devastating results. Furthermore, you can actually block incoming attacks with great effectiveness, even if the timing isn’t quite perfect. Hey, it’s a step in the right direction, and although the game has its fair share of problems, Indivisible is probably the first RPG/action adventure that I’ve stuck with for a while. That’s saying something.
The game follows an unfortunate young woman who encounters a dangerous foe that just attacked her father. He’s getting his orders from up above, and seems eager to finish her off. But then something odd happens, as he’s suddenly whisked inside her head. She’s not sure what’s going on, but seems intent to stop his boss from further destruction. Along the way, she meets other parties, who get zipped inside her head, but then pop out for battles.
The cool thing about this element, as weird as it is at first, is the camaraderie that grows between you and your party members. They may not be the most charming of folks, but you learn more about members of your team as they join, and get to know them better. It’s a change of pace from the usual adventure storytelling, and something that really makes Indivisible special.
Not only that, but Lab Zero Games also did a fantastic job with the game’s presentation. The hand-drawn visuals are absolutely startling, like an animation brought to striking life. The frame-by-frame work is excellent, and the backdrops really come through in every aspect possible. The battles look great as well, even if some attacks are executed with a blur effect.
I loved the audio stuff as well. The voice acting is terrific for a game such as this, with each character having something to add and no one standing out as an “odd duck.” It also lends a slight bit of humor to the game, while keeping its general story in focus. The music is great as well, and the sound effects are about what you’d expect them to be.
That leaves the gameplay. And while it’s very good for the most part, there are a couple of hitches that people will want to keep in mind.
The first involves travel. There’s no fast travel option here, which means you’re going to spend a lot of time running around. Getting through most places is fine, but climbing up walls can be tricky at first. Your character doesn’t have a double jump. Instead, she uses an axe to climb up to higher spaces. This system takes getting used to — I was frustrated with it at first during my PAX East hands-on — but eventually, you’ll get the hang of it. Overall, it’s good to get that Metroidvania-style exploration going with a game like Indivisible, but getting to certain spots might prove frustrating at first.
Then there are the actual RPG battles. These are pretty well done, but timing can be an issue at times. For instance, imagine setting up someone for some outstanding combo attacks. You do, but then your character is left in the midst of a recharge period, in which they’re fodder for an enemy’s counterattack. That’s typical RPG rules, but it feels like there should’ve been a defensive tactic, besides blocking, to keep things from getting out of hand.
Also, the battles can take wayyyyy too long sometimes. I remember running into a boss spider that took a good 15 minutes or so to kill. Boss battles shouldn’t last that long unless they’re breaking off into several segments. Here, it just felt more like a grind than it should be. Still, the rewards are worth it; and learning about what tactics work best will help you with the next one.
Indivisible has its hang-ups that keep it from being the sure-fire Metroidvania experience to put on everyone’s list. But if you don’t mind a few slight hitches with gameplay here and there, it’s still recommended. Even with the gameplay quirks, it stands out better than most action/RPG fare; and the presentation is simply stunning, scaling new heights for the team at Lab Zero. I wouldn’t mind seeing a more established sequel with better control options and the ability to zip around the world a little faster. For now, though, this one’s worth the exploration. Even if it does all seem like it’s in your head…
(Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.)
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