As someone who browses the video game section nearly every time I enter a Walmart or Target (sorry honey), I know from experience that the former never really puts games on clearance. Heck, in the year of our lord 2021, the closest Walmart to me STILL has a few licensed PlayStation 2 games. And they have the GALL to charge a ten spot for them! Listen, Walmart, I don’t think anyone is going to drop ten bucks on The Naked Brothers Band: The Video Game at this point. That game came out in 2008 – 13 years ago! The developer has gone out of business in the years since; THQ, the publisher, went bankrupt and has even come back in the intervening years! Just discount those games, or trash them, there’s no point in having them take up shelf space!
This is all to say I was surprised to actually see Walmart put a handful of games on clearance. And no, not THOSE games for some reason, but actual good games, like Indivisible. Being slightly familiar with the game’s Valkyrie Profile inspired battle system, and the prospect of a couch co-op RPG, the nine dollars practically flew out of my wallet. Unfortunately, the co-op didn’t wind up being as much of a draw as I had hoped; just as with the SNES Final Fantasy games, the second player really only participates in battles, so the non-combat sections leave them… waiting to play. BUT! It’s an otherwise enjoyable, refreshingly brief-for-an-RPG, video game.
Developed by Lab Zero Games, the now defunct Los Angeles based developer responsible for Skullgirls, it’s no surprise that Indivisible featured gorgeous hand-drawn art and fast-paced, combo oriented combat. Like that game, it also got its start through crowdfunding, although 505 Games also contributed and served as the publisher. After nearly four years of development, Indivisible was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and computers in October 2019, with the oft-requested Switch port following in April 2020.
As I mentioned, the game’s combat system is a clear homage to Valkyrie Profile, what with the actions of the party’s four characters assigned to one of the controller’s four face buttons. What I had not realized before playing was just how active it would be. I don’t remember my time Valkyrie Profile: Lenneth all too well. That game seemed a little… stodgy, especially the combat, whereas with Indivisible I felt like I was juggling burning matches – I only had so much time to act, and the next match was fast approaching. The combo interplay between party members, the uniqueness of their attacks, and even timed blocking like in the Mario RPGs, made for engaging combat.
Outside of battle, the game wore its inspirations equally shamelessly. Also unknown to me before I dove in, was the fact that it featured Metroidvania exploration. It wasn’t quite as exploration focused as a proper Metroid or Castlevania, but there were worthwhile perks to revisiting previously traversed areas with newly acquired platforming abilities. And this game had a lot! Inspired by the abilities from all your favorite side-scrollers, I obtained about a dozen during the game’s twenty hour runtime. Surpassing the toughest obstacles was especially satisfying, although those featured in Razmi’s Challenges, the $8 DLC pack, were brutal.
Featuring platforming levels designed around combinations of certain abilities and battles consisting of specific party formations, these challenges were nigh impossible. I was awarded a bronze, silver, or gold medal based on my completion time and for some, I have no idea how I could even shave time off to improve from a bronze to silver. Dare I say, these were some of the toughest platforming challenges in ANY video game. The quips from Razmi, who was hands down the funniest character of the twenty strong cast, weren’t enough to get me through. I completed roughly half of the forty challenges, and even if I WANTED to subject myself to the rest, it would’ve been a bitter end; the related trophies are glitched, never to unlock following the dissolution of Lab Zero Games.
On the topic of Razmi and the game’s characters, the general character of the game was very much in line with something like Avatar: The Last Airbender. Playing as Ajna, a strong-willed girl whose godlike powers and stubbornness bring the planet to the brink of destruction, I enjoyed watching her grow as she learned to listen to and work alongside those she shared the planet with. The cast of characters was diverse, with a core group fleshed out and fully voice acted, and a few others who were little more than just another party member. Those in the former group would offer input often, and their cartoonish personalities and responses to what was happening around them were genuinely funny, particularly Razmi, whose nihilism never seemed to bring anyone down, try as she might.
Tying everything together was a score composed by Hiroki Kikuta, the man responsible for Secret of Mana’s effervescent soundtrack, as well as the Shadow Hearts series of RPGs. Naturally, there were a handful of happy, bouncy tunes reminiscent of some of my favorites from Secret of Mana. Most often these were setting themes, helping to define the feel of a locale with distinctive wind instrumentation. Listening again after completing the game, I can vividly recall specific places, whereas my memory gets a little hazy with the various climactic action tracks, but that’s kind of how it always is, huh?
Equal parts action-RPG and Metroidvania platformer, Lab Zero Games didn’t shy away from wearing their inspirations on their sleeves with Indivisible. They adapted a menagerie of gameplay mechanics and abilities from multiple genres, created a beautiful game world to explore, filled it full of interesting characters, and had Hiroki Kikuta bring it all together with a varied soundtrack. Like the word indivisible itself, the game may not have gripped me as much were one of these aspects absent. Personally I would’ve enjoyed seeing the combat system coupled with deeper character and skill growth systems, but alas, if that were to have been addressed in a follow-up, that’s unlikely to happen at this point. I can’t complain though, because for nine dollars, Indivisible was a hell of a deal.