"Indivisible is unlike anything you have ever played" It is one of the phrases that accompanied the presentation campaign of the second license Lab Zero Games, after the already, deserved, success of Skullgirls. A phrase that may seem risky, maybe even a little arrogant, but absolutely true. By dissecting the game in its various "forms" it could be said that there is nothing innovative but it is the way in which they blend and balance to make the original formula. Indivisible constantly brings the player his desire to entertain and entertain, telling in the meantime a light story with sharp and dramatic colors, with a memorable cast of characters.
A Hystory of Violence
The Ashwat forest is overwhelmed by the fierce war perpetrated by Lord Ravannavar, who decided, in the name of a distorted desire for perpetual peace, to deploy his army against the whole world. The young woman Ajna so he loses his only parent at the hands of the soldier Dhar, henchman determined to please his Lord, and one of them begins desperate struggle, which ends in an absurd unplanned truce. In fact, inexplicably, Ajna, at the height of his fury, absorbs Dhar in the coils of his mind, in the Inner Kingdom hosted by his psyche. Once this new and seemingly absurd power has been revealed, the two enemies are forced to work together to achieve their goals, which are diametrically opposed but which see a crucial point in common: to arrive in the presence of Ravannavar. A journey that leads them to meet a series of others, bizarre, characters, in turn involuntarily imprisoned by Ajna in his Kingdom, and from which a mad alliance is born, determined to support the charismatic protagonist.
As already discussed in thetitle preview, the combat system is the pivot on which the whole experience revolves. Taking inspiration from the wonderful Valkyrie Profile, and putting on the plate also the knowledge accumulated with Skullgirls, Lab Zero Games creates a system of clashes exceptionally rich and multifaceted, halfway between real time and turn based. Once you have explored the basics of battles and become familiar with its mechanisms, you can experiment with the various combinations and create teams suitable for any eventuality. Some enemies push us to stay at a distance, or to avoid using magic attacks, to exploit area attacks, launchers and so on. Therefore, creating your own party also means study combos best that that particular team can deploy and make it perform at its best. To all this is added the need to break the opposing guard with specific modalities, which strongly dampens the possibility to face the fights relying on button mashing. Finally, accompany the whole special attacks, usable through the Iddhi bar, which works in a similar way to that of the Street Fighter Super or others fighting, genre that contaminates the battle system in every aspect. Effectively linking attacks, performing perfect saves with the right timing and hitting the weak points of the enemies allows us to accumulate bars quickly, and then pour a flurry of special moves on the enemies. Although Lab Zero is already working on improvements and updates designed to further refine the experience, it is necessary to specify how in the final stages of the game, the difficulty (as far as the fights are concerned) suffers a significant decrease, attenuating in fact the sense of challenge during the clashes, even the most theoretically demanding ones. Despite the nasty surprise, this does not undermine the experience too blatantly, and provides that sense of "supremacy" that is often achieved in this type of production, but which in this case comes too abruptly and creates a really wide gap between our team and the opposing team. This defect will probably be eliminated very soon but it needs to be reported. The fact remains that, regardless of this imperfection, the fighting is true flagship of Indivisible, of which you will fall in love without a doubt.
The art of war
Each character is a bit of a school in Indivisible, and has a degree of difficulty in use, statistics and combat modes more or less unique. Most of them have stance e gimmick proprietary, not all very successful but still interesting. Among the most intriguing stands out Nun for example, a girl capable of transforming the limbs of her body into plants, which has the exclusive ability of placing traps between us and the opposing party, not only damaging the enemies that activate the defensive mechanism but also making them skip a turn of attack. Needed to mention too Kushi, who can exploit two distinct stances thanks to his trusted partner Altun, a giant eagle that we can exploit to fight from distance, or choose to ride to maximize damage in close combat. However, listing all the peculiarities of the various characters would take too long and, above all, would take away much of the surprise and fun that you suddenly encounter in a new component ready to swell the ranks of the cast. Much of Indivisible's charm is inherent right here: in the knowledge of the various members of the roster and their stories, their characters and of course their fighting style. Not everyone will meet your taste and not all are immediate, but given the great variety, even in the face of a balance not too well executed, you will be able to build your "dream team", tailoring the best party possible.
Around the World
Our journey takes us through the various cities and most important areas of the Indivisible world, with one good variety of landscapes and areas to explore. Deserts, port cities, catacombs and snow-capped peaks. Each area has its peculiarities and allows us to get to know the Folklore of the game world, which takes various cultures of our world and proposes them, revisits them and mixes them with taste and intelligence, always respecting the sources from which it takes inspiration. The map is apparently disconnected but presents several surprises and secrets to discover and builds an effective and well-characterized imagery in all its aspects.
We often forget, discussing this production, that Indivisible is composed of two very distinct souls and that in reality, one cannot exist without the other. The component platform with strong colors metroidvania timidly appears in the early stages, only to explode as the game progresses, even going so far as to be that preponderant. Obviously, for anyone interested primarily in the combat-related counterpart, this statement could cause a bit of disappointment, but it is necessary to understand that the team worked very well also in this sense. Although it does not present completely original or innovative ideas, the game offers a large set of skills to be collected during the adventure which, combined with a level design more than discreet and a wise use of the bracktracking, provides a significant boost to the overall experience. Jump into the void and take an aerial shot, stop in mid-air and then throw an arrow at an enemy behind an inaccessible loophole, and finally teleport beyond it to throw a devastating uppercut at the monster and then weaken it before entering combat, it becomes the order of the day and every time it is damn exciting. What might have seemed only a "boundary" thus becomes the main and strong point of a challenge rate that is so consistent from beginning to end, further strengthens the offer. Being able to pass seamlessly from platform flasks to clashes and use our movement skills to be able to bypass or scratch enemies without going into battle, it works very well but even more so the numerous Boss Fight, which are always a hybrid clash between rpg and metroidvania mechanics. This dualism is therefore "indivisible", blending perfectly and corroborating a mixture that gives life to a winning formula and, indeed, never seen before.
As already mentioned, Ajna is able to host within his psyche the characters in which it is possible to come across history, being able to call them back to make them participate in the clashes. This Inner Kingdom it has not only plot applications, but is accessible at any time (except battles) and plays the role of HUB of the game. In this space it is possible to discuss with the characters to get to know them better and complete them side quest, enhance attack and defense by collecting specific objects scattered around the map and even change the color of the various ones skin of the roster. It is a simple but functional system, which grows gradually with the discovery of different "incarnations" to be exploited in battle, and also allows you to consult a seer if we have doubts about the continuation of the adventure or a former soldier able to train in a training mode in full beat'em up style.
One of Indivisible's strong points certainly lies in thecreative flair of Alex Ahad (formerly co-creator and skipper of Skullgirls) who, combined with the forces of the team, creates magnificent characters entirely designed and animated by hand. The game is based on the Z-Engine, owner of Lab Zero and created by the famous Mike "Mike Z" Zaimont, lead design director, programmer and player of the fighting fighting scene, also champion of an Evo, already exploited for the previous team title. Needless then reiterate how much the 2D sprites enjoy manic details and care, of the management of hurtboxes and hitboxes (which it is possible among other things to evaluate in sparring mode) or of the splendid choreographies that we will be able to go to create during the clashes. This overflowing quality is not found, however, in the game world that is the background of the small odyssey of Ajna and, however pleasant at a glance, has some trimming. If the choice of colors, shades and lights is always of a high standard, the same cannot be said for the assets and models that make up the seabed: too cold and with elementary geometries. The natural landscapes undoubtedly come out better, but the architecture of temples, cities and villages show the side to a much less appealing design although well characterized on an artistic level. The NPCs that populate the game world create a depth sense of detachment with the excellent character design of the supporting actors, and a glance is enough to notice the hand - probably inexperienced - that has hatched them. The same goes for the "scene elements" (o props) that often result botched if compared with the excellent quality of the characters. A real shame therefore, also because it is impossible not to think what would have happened if the team had chosen to build a "scene" also entirely in 2D and with the care dedicated to the roster; we will almost certainly face one of the most visually beautiful titles of this generation, like Ori and the Blind Forest or Hollow Knight. Despite this sensitive jarring, overall the title always remains pleasant, albeit fluctuating in quality. Technically the game, thanks also to its lightness, results very fluid and almost always anchored to 60 frames per second, albeit with small exceptions. Indivisible is not without small inaccuracies, as for example in collisions but it is always absolutely forgettable little things. There are also some sporadic problem due to entry into battle after particular actions (such as a slip kick for example) that lead us in and out of the clashes or move the enemies into uncomfortable playing areas for the rpg mechanics, creating a moment of disorientation and confusion, but which at most get us a laugh, given their rarity and ease of resolution. Honorable mention to the opening and cut-scenes animated within the game, all by the famous artist Studio Trigger, author of Kill La Kill, Little Witch Academia and the upcoming Promare.
Ring to Bell
The production can boast of the composer Hiroki Kikuta, famous for having worked on the series Mana (Seiken Densetsu) and Last Labyrinth, title released in November. Some tracks are a tribute to Valkyrie Profile and in general are not particularly original but are still a excellent accompaniment to the story, although not fully conquering. The sound design it is convincing and well executed but the real strength lies in the voices of the cast, all dubbed by professional actors and all well characterized in their cadences, accents or idioms. The umpteenth demonstration of how the heart of Indivisible lies precisely in the characters dashed in the story.
One of the aspects that ultimately always catches my eye is the one related to Polishing of productions. Finishing and taking care of the menus, presenting them and making them all functional as well as pleasing is an aspect that we often tend to ignore, and that instead can have a decisive importance. You will almost certainly find yourself at miss a more dense and comprehensive menu: the characters' abilities are explained summarily in some cases and their Super described only in part, although it is necessary to say that the most important and particular aspects are always clearly specified. Still, the feeling remains that miss something, also in the map and its legend that are very basic. Let me be clear, it is not that the game deprives us of important information or makes us unclear ideas, it is simply all so interesting that you would like to know more and more in detail, but you will not be able to.
Indivisible deserves the expectation it has created. It is not a defect-free title and certainly it is not a perfect title but it is nonetheless quality. Finishing it will take you away between the 18 and the 22 hours of play probably, unless you decide to press the accelerator, but I strongly advise against it. The bitter taste remains in the mouth for lno dedicated endgame content or a New Game Plus mode, especially considering that in the future they will arrive well ten other characters (all guests from other videogames plus, which makes them even more interesting) and that will break through the roof of the thirty personagesthe playable. On the one hand, therefore, I would say that the biggest flaw of Indivisible is that it has a term, because you will probably still get to the end credits, thanks to the addictive formula created by Lab Zero Games. In the face of some smearing and interference, the younger brother of Skullgirls reconfirms the talent of its creators and becomes a essential title for anyone who has loved the fights of Valkyrie Profile, for those who appreciate metroidvania and, in general, for those with an eye for atypical productions. In a period full of titles of quality and thickness, Indivisible manages to confirm itself as one of the protagonists of this rich 2019, which will be remembered as one of the best years of this generation now at the end. At this point, we can only hope that Lab Zero decides to make it become a brand, because the title absolutely deserves a follow-up. Funny, original, multifaceted, imperfect: Indivisible is all this and probably even more.