Indivisible (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Drew Hurley 16.05.2020

Review for Indivisible on Nintendo Switch

The second game from Lab Zero Games, Indivisible, launched on major consoles at the tail end of last year. It has been four years since that campaign was funded, and backers were eager to finally get their hands on this eclectic creation - a blend of metroidvania and RPG, and with a combat system inspired by classics like the Valkyrie Profile. Nintendo fans were hopeful to eventually hear confirmation of a port in the future for the Switch. Now a port has suddenly arrived onto the eShop, with no fanfare or warning. It seems a perfect fit for the Switch, but how does the port measure up?

The self-proclaimed 'Hot Blooded Teenage Girl' Ajna is the heroine of this tale. She's living quite the tranquil life in her little village, though she's regularly butting heads with her father, who refuses to speak with her about his past, or to give Ajna any information of how her mother died. All that remains of Ajna's mother is her sacred axe. Her father promises one day he'll pass that axe on to Ajna, and explain everything. As is always the way when someone is foolish enough to utter such an obvious death flag, Ajna's father meets a swift end following this introduction, as an army of armoured soldiers assault Ajna's village and slaughter the inhabitants. Ajna is the only survivor, and she embarks on a quest to avenge her people, off to find the leader of these warriors, the mysterious Ravannavar.

Screenshot for Indivisible on Nintendo Switch

The first step on this journey introduces Ajna to some strange abilities that she had no idea she possessed. While facing off with the lieutenant who led the assault on the village, she somehow manages to suck him into her brain. Literally. Ajna is able to pull people into her 'Inner Realm' within her mind, and release them when needed. This becomes one of the fundamental parts of the story, Ajna travels the world meeting many people along the way who join her in her quest against Ravannavar. That quest sees her travel with her companions across the globe, to a diverse and varied world that takes its inspiration from the religions and myths of South East Asia. A source that's criminally underutilised. A source that's fully utilised by Lab Zero, crafting an imaginative and gorgeous world.

Ajna's quest takes her across deep Jungles topped with Mezo American temples, Chinese cities run by a corrupt Buddhist deity, and the home of a corrupt, machine-obsessed, fascist empire. The background NPCs are filled with better designs than the main characters of other games. Best of all, though, is the cast of playable characters - a cast that embraces diversity across the board. It's not just a straight white man leading an ensemble of hot women who all fawn over him, instead every colour, creed, and sexuality is welcome, as Indivisible shows that including a diversified cast doesn't have to be hard. The characters are just as diverse in their appearance and background, but also their abilities too.

Screenshot for Indivisible on Nintendo Switch

The cast expands to over twenty, with abilities that enhance and supplement each other, not just damage dealing, but AOE attacks, traps, heals. Balancing a party is a fun exercise and experimenting adds extra life to the title in trying out each of the extensive cast. The enemy lieutenant Dhar is the first of the crew, a solid damage dealer with a sword and stone manipulation abilities. Though he's the least friendly of the lot at first, especially since he killed Ajna's father, he plays through a solid redemption arc from indoctrinated soldier to hero. There's also a crazy old Shaman with the spirit of a flaming tiger in her lamp and its skin on her head; a woman who keeps water in her hair who can leave puddles with her attacks then use the water of the puddles to heal the party; a crazy fight obsessed ninja; a trap laying Botanist who can summon trees.

This cast of characters can be utilised in a party of four - Ajna with three other characters. In combat, these characters are mapped to each of the face buttons and an ATB gauge-like system fills to allow them to attack. Valkyrie Profile players will be familiar with the system, but there are extra levels of depth to the combat system. These four characters are placed in line with the four face buttons, and as their ATB style gauge fills that face button can be used to get them to perform an action. Every character has a unique range of moves that are selected by using a direction along with their face button and balancing a team wisely can lead to some powerful setups and big combos as characters complement each other nicely. The buttons are also used for blocks, which when perfectly timed with the swing of an enemy attack can negate damage. Something necessary in the later game as damage spikes can one-hit party members.

Screenshot for Indivisible on Nintendo Switch

Combat is only half of the equation here, though. Platforming and exploration play just as big a role. Like all good metroidvanias, reaching everywhere requires some new methods of traversal that are unlocked at regular intervals throughout the journey. First comes the return of Ajna's mother's axe. This allows her to smash through walls; later a bow gives her the ability to hit switches and the like from afar; a spear brings back memories of Scrooge McDuck pogo'ing on his cane, as Ajna is able to hop along dangerous obstacles; inverting that spear means hopping upside down across ceilings; Special arrows can cover dangerous environments with a walk-able fauna. More and more these abilities unlocked, and the levels offer up sections that require quick reactions and switching between these abilities to overcome the obstacles.

While the individual platforming sequences are well-crafted and enjoyable, the overall design in regards to the levels and the metroidvania aspect of the game is so poorly designed. At the point where three different areas are available to explore, there is only one real route, as going to the others just leads to dead ends until the correct path is picked, and the tool for progression gets unlocked. Worse yet, it then results in a long backtrack to get back to the start of the level. It's such a shame. Such a basic aspect of a good metroidvania, and it is completely missed here. As for the port, it came out of nowhere. Even to 505 games. They had planned a day one patch to include 1080 when docked amongst other performance improvements, however, this went out without these. It was also released without the option for a New Game Plus mode or local couch co-op. Worse yet, these elements are still not even announced to be coming later.

Screenshot for Indivisible on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

It's great to see a developer so early in its life step out and experiment with new genres, and 505 games has taken its signature art style to create a stunning, original world. The battle system and depth of the roster make for an experience worth replaying and experimenting with, and is complemented by the platforming sequences between the combat. While the linearity of the metroidvania aspects leaves a lot to be desired, the fundamentals of the platforming are wonderfully realised.

Developer

Lab Zero

Publisher

505 Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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