Indivisible: real-time JRPG platformer by Lab Zero

This was mentioned in a couple threads and a mention in a podcast, but there wasn’t a dedicated place for it. Has anybody been playing this?

It’s been out for a while on PC, and maybe consoles? But it got stealth (i.e. accidentally) released on the Switch last week. Apparently they were originally planning to release it, but then decided to hold off for a few weeks to include a day 0 patch, but then…they accidentally released the unpatched version anyways because they forgot to un-mark it for publication.

Lab Zero is the Skullgirls team, so they know how to make gorgeous 2d animation with very clever character design, and apparently it has a fighting game-esque (slow) real time JRPG combat system. Usually compared to Valkyrie Profile, if anything. It also has some Hindu theming, which is a somewhat unusual setting.

I’m thinking of playing it with/for my 7 year old, who enjoys Strong Female Characters, and the character designs don’t seem overly sexualized.

Well, I guess nobody else is playing this, which is a real pity, because you’re missing out. It’s a brilliant game, although I don’t think it’s one that I could blanket recommend to everybody.

Everybody talks about the 2d platforming core as a Metroid-vania, since it has areas gated by navigation unlocks that gradually open more of the map. But the actual platforming owes a bit more to maso-core platformers like Meat Boy or Celeste (though not at that difficulty level) than the relatively anodyne platforming in most Metroidvanias. Most things in that genre are really more about combat than platforming challenges, with the platforming just adding a dimension to the combat. But Indivisible’s combat here is pocketed into JRPG encounters, so that interplay doesn’t exist. The platforming set pieces are actual platforming challenges, usually with failure meaning an auto-respawn at the beginning of the screen.

So, the combination of actually hard 2d platforming and fighting game inspired timing in the combat, all embedded inside a very JRPG story structure makes this kind of hard to recommend without knowing the person you’re recommending to? It feels like it might need a pretty specific person to appreciate. I hope it’s been doing well financially, but I get a little bit of a Brutal Legend vibe that it may be too many genres in one package.

This game also makes me feel very “seen” as somebody from Southeast Asia. (There’s a joke about Jollibee!) It pulls from Buddhist and Hindu mythologies confidently, and achieves an Asia-pastiche that’s quite effective. The best analog is probably the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s very much Crypto-Asia (well, mostly, there’s a South America bit too). Its just a neat, well done setting, that’s pretty distinctly different from a most Western RPGs or many Japanese magic-techo-steam-punk settings.

It isn’t perfect. The world feels pretty empty, and while the main characters are brilliant and meticulously designed, most of the background NPCs are obvious Kickstarter backer inserts with a bit of a generic “how to draw anime the anime way” feel to their execution.

To answer my own question, it’s been fine to play with my daughter. She likes a bunch of the characters, and the while there’s a bit of violence (e.g. the murder of the main character’s dad), it’s pretty storybook style violence, and not especially traumatic. There’s some fictional opium-insert addiction and some implied prostitution/crime around it later on, but that’s by implication only, so I think it would just go over most kids heads. The platforming and combat mean it’s definitely something I play with her watching rather than something she can help out with though.

Damn, I’m glad you left this comment because I had this one earmarked for my girlfriend, but as someone who found the platforming of Hat in Time a bit too hard I think she would probably bounce right off of this one. :(

Spoilers, obviously, but if you look for videos of “Mount Sumeru”, that features what are probably the hardest platforming sections in the game? (The hardest I’ve encountered).

A randomly selected example, you can just sort of click around the latter half of the video.

When I saw this was leaving Game Pass I decided to see if I can finish it. The answer is YES I CAN!

I’d say Wheeljack covered it nicely. I was especially impressed with the character designs and the sheer, overwhelming number of new additions to my party. The steady drip of creative and appealing new characters never stopped throughout the entire 25 hours I spent playing. Same goes for all the new platform skills I kept learning. It stayed fresh and inventive the whole time.

The story and voice acting were really strong also. I liked the way it takes you through the three main settings twice, first with Ajna screwing things up and then again so she can make it right.

I’d recommend it for sure! Fun and breezy mix of two genres I enjoy plus tremendous production value.

I mentioned this in the Quarterlies thread, but sadly, the future of this game and franchise are probably scuttled thanks to revelations of some very bad behavior on the part of Lab Zero founder Mike Z. Lab Zero doesn’t meaningfully exist anymore, and the status of their IPs seems pretty questionable.

There was some challenge DLC released already for all platforms, but any future content (promised kickstarter content and any additional DLC) is dead. The game is still for sale though, and even did get physical copies.

There was even talk of an animated series at some point, and while it’s unclear how real those talks ever were, they have since been cancelled as well.

It’s unfortunate, but I’m still happy it exists, and hope that some of the ex-Lab Zero folks can carry on the torch in one way or another. A bunch of them have apparently founded a new venture called Future Club.

Oh my! Well, good riddance to that racist jerk. Guess I won’t plan on any sequels but hopefully Future Club can keep their gorgeous 2D animation style going.

The main animators Alex Ahad and Mariel Cartwright, are both part of Future Club, though Mike Z was a coding genius and no one of the artistic side has any coding chops. They’re going to need to hire some programmers to get anything done.

As for Mike Z, I suspect given interactions he is heavily on the spectrum, and I’m a little more forgiving of him than I am most who do similar , I suspect he is more of a Billy No-Brains than say, some of the more actively malevolent types, but he did have to go.

During his period of disgrace, he secretly gave Guilty gear AC+R proper rollback netcode secretly, until he was found out and Arcsys dumped him to avoid PR. Make of that what you wish.

The whole situation was pretty weird, because Lab Zero seemed to be a pretty progressive place in general, from what little I know (e.g. the SonicFox cameo thing), and it seemed from what I saw it seemed like it could have been a recoverable thing, but it seemed like Mike Z kinda blew it all up. There’s probably a lot I’m missing about it though, I wasn’t that tapped into the story.

Basically Mike Z made a somewhat racist joke, not anything totally hateful, but definitely inappropiate, he was called out for it, and apologized. All good so far.

Then, women accused him of being a creep. Nothing illegal, I doubt it would even qualify as harassment, but that was the last straw for folks given the recent prior. The allegations came off to me as Mike Z being awkward around women and doing things inappropiately and accidentally. Then the business stuff came from the allegations and most of the employees not wanting to work for him anymore, and then he got unpersoned from the FGC once Sonicfox, who used to be one of his closest friends ,called for it.

The fact that skullgirls had Combo Breaker as their main event didn’t help his cause either (the owners of Combo Breaker are pretty far-left, even by my standards, and tend to be the first org to ban folks)

I don’t want this to sound as apologia for Mike Z, he truly deserved to be punished, I just feel like he’s been made to be a monster on par with a rather infamous former poster here, when he isn’t. He’s a man who made some bad mistakes but I don’t think is irredeemable, though any redemption is going to be tough now.

It would definitely qualify as harassment. I’d go so far as to say his behavior was textbook harassment, and the allegations were based on patterns of behavior and not isolated incidents. I don’t care if he’s spectrum of not, he’s exactly the kind of jackass who deserves to be called out and held accountable for the way he treats women.

-Tom

Ah, I’d forgotten about that part. I suppose part of it is that people had somewhat higher standards for him, given the circles that he’d run in and given what they were trying to do.

Which isn’t to say that his behavior didn’t deserve it. But if it had been like, Activision or Ubi or something, I could have seen it kinda get swept under the rug and disappear. More a condemnation of most corporate environments than a statement about his case, I suppose.

I agree with that. And yes, he was jackass who got what he deserved- I just believe he didn’t know he was harassing.