Category Archives: Game Reviews

John Wick Hex Review – Beware The Boogeyman

John Wick is an orchestrator of death. He efficiently uses both the tools and space around him in a fight, delicately flowing between enemies and intelligently picking them off. John Wick Hex effortlessly replicates the slick violence of the films, allowing you to embody the feared assassin in combat scenarios that are both challenging and satisfying to overcome. It also introduces a fast-paced spin on traditional turn-based action, letting you think and act like the elusive Baba Yaga while also looking as refined and controlled as he is.

At the core of John Wick Hex is an overhead timeline, which records actions both you and enemies take. Each action takes a set amount of time, represented plainly in the timeline to give you a clear view of when you’re taking a shot versus when you have to dodge an incoming one, for example. After each turn, the action you’ve made plays out in real-time, only pausing if a new enemy enters your line of sight or if you take damage to let you adjust accordingly. You’re always aware of how the action is going to play out when it starts moving again, which lets you plan ahead and position yourself for your next turn.

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The choices you make in combat are vital, though. Sometimes an enemy might be quicker on the draw than you, forcing you to decide between potentially taking a hit or throwing your gun to stun them in time. This has its own set of consequences. If the enemy is too far, you’ve now disarmed yourself with too much ground to cover for a close-quarters takedown, or left yourself vulnerable to the surprise appearance of another foe. Each turn is a new step in a moving puzzle, rewarding careful consideration of positioning, sight lines, and resource management with a graceful flow of murder.

Aside from health, you have to consider both ammunition and a resource called focus. John Wick is great with a gun, but Hex limits the number of bullets you can carry at a time to force you to experiment with new weapons that you find. Knowing how many bullets you have in the magazine before a fight helps you manage how many enemies you think you can dispatch before needing to find a new one, which in turn helps you move efficiently from one kill to the next, collecting dropped firearms in the process. It’s a satisfying balance; I constantly had to adapt to the firing speeds and effective ranges of new weapons, which in turn changed the way I advanced on or retreated from a fight.

Focus governs most of your actions outside basic movement and shooting. Everything from performing an instant melee takedown to reloading your weapon requires some focus points, making it the backbone to most of your available repertoire. Although it can be replenished easily enough, finding space in a fight to do so without taking too much damage is tough, encouraging you to only bite off as much as you can chew and space your enemies out to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Your successes and failures are governed but how well you’re able to manage both ammunition and your distribution of resources, with Hex focusing less on hit percentages and random rolls and more on the choices you make and your ability to anticipate how things will play out.

Levels are designed to challenge your understanding of movement and its inherent risks, too, stuffing you into long, cramped corridors laden with doors that enemies can spawn through at any point. Sight lines are obscured to keep you guessing about who’s just around the corner; a reckless roll could put you in the firing line of a group of previously hidden enemies. Each step you take towards the exit of each level has to be a calculated one, taking into account acute angles of doorways and the benefits of elevation from overhead balconies.

When you hit a stride with this balancing act, John Wick Hex feels like it’s almost moving in real time. Your decisions will start feeling instinctive, with moves playing out as if you’re beholden to a ticking clock. Hex is tuned to make you feel like you’re always one step ahead. Because you have a beat or two to react to new enemies before they make their moves, you’ll often feel like your reaction times are split seconds ahead of them–so long as you’re thinking carefully. But it’s equally unforgiving if you’re too bold. If you don’t learn how to break sight lines while moving, you’ll quickly find your timeline overwhelmed with enemy actions that you can’t address entirely. Hex is a power fantasy with the odds ever so slightly tilted in your favor, but it’s also a game that wants you to understand the fine margins that John Wick operates within during every fight.

With such dynamic and engrossing combat at its center, it’s disappointing that John Wick Hex’s original story fails to live up to the same standard. It takes place well before the events of the first film–when John was the most dangerous weapon the High Table had in their employ, and before he ever met his wife–with John searching for series stalwarts Winston and Charon, reprised by Ian McShane and Lance Reddick respectively (Keanu Reeves’ likeness is used in the game’s stylized cartoonish aesthetic, but John Wick has no dialogue to speak of). Hex, a new villain to the series, has kidnapped the pair in an attempt to dismantle the High Table in a fit of revenge, inviting the wrath of John Wick as he ruthlessly hunts him down over a variety of locales, like neon-soaked night clubs with harsh electronic music and silent, snow-slicked forests which quickly become drenched in bright pink streaks of blood from fallen foes.

While the narrative gives the game a reason to bounce from one location to the next, it never taps into the intriguing layer of lore that sits on top of the high-octane action from the films. You’ll learn nothing new about the High Table or their seedy, mysterious Continental hotels, and even less about John’s time before giving up his assassin lifestyle in pursuit of something quieter. Hex’s revenge tale also fails to establish any interesting backstory or lasting impression on the franchise, making the story feel meaningless in the grander scheme of things.

It’s a disappointing thread that ties together the exceptional gameplay, which faithfully captures the feeling of being John Wick in a strategic and pulsating formula. John Wick Hex has turn-based gameplay at a pace you’ve likely not experienced before, and it intricately balances its systems to give you a sense of being an expert hitman while also making it feel earned. It’s a slick and well-oiled game that succeeds in giving you a new, engrossing way to experience John Wick and its signature brand of chaotic action.

Source: GameSpot.com

Concrete Genie Review – Ash-thetic

Restoring the place which harbors your fondest childhood memories is a cute and almost noble goal. In Concrete Genie you get to take something drab and dead and bring it back to life with colour, love, and warmth. It’s a very simple and short experience that focuses mainly on light puzzling, 3D platforming, and a little stealth, but its charm and general sense of playfulness really make it a worthwhile adventure.

In Concrete Genie you play as Ash, a boy who dreams of bringing his former home, a fishing port called Denksa, back to life. The town has been corrupted by an oil spill and negative emotions, and is now a desolate maze-like neighbourhood by the water. Ash’s love of art and memories of better days draw him to the run-down area, despite his parents’ warnings. Unfortunately for Ash, his bullies also enjoy running amok in the ghost town; they tear up his art book and push him into a cable car bound for Denska lighthouse (known for housing a ghost), starting him on a new journey.

Small drawings of the genies Ash drew as a child are scattered around the city and, when combined with the power of the lighthouse ghost, bring his paintings to life. These friendly genies bid him to use his artistic talents to paint the town using a new magic brush, which restores the electric lights in the area. He sets to work, using his vibrant artworks to push back the darkness infecting the town. The premise doesn’t make a tonne of sense, but its message and execution are sweet and full of heart, much like the rest of the game.

No Caption Provided
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Ash is determined to restore Denska to its former glory and each area of the town, including the lighthouse, has hanging fairy lights over some parts of buildings. Painting these areas will clear the dark vines that block your path to the next section. Mechanically, painting is more like placing large dynamic stickers rather than using your own brush strokes. You choose whether you want to paint something like a rainbow or a flower, use either motion controls or the right stick to choose its location, then drag across the screen to determine the general size and shape of the object.

Concrete Genie fills in the rest, adding fine details that can vary depending on the sticker. Flowers may create extra grass, and trees can grow additional branches, but it all works to make whatever you’re creating far more impressive. The artwork is made of light and genuinely quite beautiful–if a little overbearingly bright at times. Much like projected light art or bright neon signs, they work well in moderation but can get overly busy. You do have to go quite overboard to create something that’s actually ugly, which makes the act of painting the town really satisfying–you get to watch a boring dull environment become something quite pretty with very minimal effort.

To light up the hanging lights, any painting will do. This means that sometimes, for simplicity’s sake, I used the same art over and over again, covering the walls with butterflies or stars out of laziness. Occasionally, you may need to paint something specific, but even then it can get a little repetitive. All of the paintable objects come from your sketchbook the aforementioned bullies tore apart, and these pages are scattered all over Denska.

No Caption Provided

Sometimes you might not have the page you need yet, but setting out to find them gives you a genuine reason to explore the environment and fortunately, it’s really fun to do so. Ash is just a kid and doesn’t have superpowers, so he can’t jump particularly high or survive large falls, but he does have a spirited spring in his step. Clambering up the sides of buildings is quick and efficient while still feeling grounded and not at all floaty. Even if you do fall to your death, you’re immediately returned to where you fell from, and daredevil actions like sliding down power lines make getting around enjoyable without fear of punishment. There’s a really nice fluidity to his movements, which emboldens you to explore every nook and cranny to hunt down your strewn pages.

Along the way, you’ll also find spots to create new genies, which will in turn help you solve puzzles and access new areas. These genies have set colours which allow them to solve different elemental puzzles–red genies can burn down a tarp, for example, whereas blue ones can blow on specific objects, and yellow ones generate electricity to power various doors and switches. The downside to the puzzles is calling one genie to solve a problem calls all who are available to come, so often there’s not much active work on your part to solve them–Instead, the genies come along and, aside from a few exceptions, they’ll just solve it on their own. As genies are still technically paintings that exist on the walls they were painted on, they can only travel on connected walls and are locked in their own areas. This means you may need to have found the painting spot for the type of genie you need first, but this still isn’t very difficult.

No Caption Provided
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You also have a fair amount of control over how your genies will look, depending on how many genie design pages you’ve collected. The choices you make can impact their personalities, which can make interacting with them incredibly endearing–it’s also very easy to make some hot mess genies, but they don’t seem to mind their appearance. The interactions between Ash and the genies are very sweet–you can hang out with them, play games together, and paint things for them. Keeping your genies happy also makes them more likely to help you solve puzzles and provides you with Super Paint, which is required to paint over some surfaces, so the whole interaction with the genies feeds back into the positivity of the game.

Concrete Genie takes a surprising turn in the final act, when combat suddenly makes an appearance. As a part of the narrative, it makes sense and is an enjoyable twist, but because it’s such a short-lived mechanic it feels under-developed. Like the elements of the genies, you are granted three different elemental attacks that need to be used to take down different shields. The half-hour dedicated to combat, mostly involving boss fights, doesn’t give much opportunity for you to experiment with it. I’m still not sure if all the attacks did damage or whether some just caused status effects because there wasn’t enough time or enemies to organically work it out.

No Caption Provided

When you’re granted combat, you also gain new movement abilities, which include paint skating. This means you no longer have to run so much and can instead essentially skate on magical painted shoes. It makes getting around even more fluid than it was before, and unlike your ability to shoot elements, you get to keep this one even after the main story is completed. Because it’s introduced fairly late into the game, it makes jumping back in after the story to clean up collectibles really enjoyable. The game itself only takes about six hours to complete on an initial playthrough, and once it’s “over” you really do want to play more. But even with the 10 or so hours I spent finding all the secrets and collectibles, it still feels like some concepts could still have been explored to a greater degree.

Most of what Concrete Genie has to offer is fun and beautiful in a sort of childlike way. The game is not particularly difficult, and overcoming a puzzle or combat scenario isn’t always satisfying. But it’s ultimately still an endearing experience throughout. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be found just from the act of exploring, and little hidden secrets along the way help make it worthwhile; I just wish Concrete Genie had more adventure waiting for me.

Source: GameSpot.com

Concrete Genie Review – Paint The Town LED

Restoring the place which harbors your fondest childhood memories is a cute and almost noble goal. In Concrete Genie you get to take something drab and dead and bring it back to life with colour, love, and warmth. It’s a very simple and short experience that focuses mainly on light puzzling, 3D platforming, and a little stealth, but its charm and general sense of playfulness really make it a worthwhile adventure.

In Concrete Genie you play as Ash, a boy who dreams of bringing his former home, a fishing port called Denksa, back to life. The town has been corrupted by an oil spill and negative emotions, and is now a desolate maze-like neighbourhood by the water. Ash’s love of art and memories of better days draw him to the run-down area, despite his parents’ warnings. Unfortunately for Ash, his bullies also enjoy running amok in the ghost town; they tear up his art book and push him into a cable car bound for Denska lighthouse (known for housing a ghost), starting him on a new journey.

Small drawings of the genies Ash drew as a child are scattered around the city and, when combined with the power of the lighthouse ghost, bring his paintings to life. These friendly genies bid him to use his artistic talents to paint the town using a new magic brush, which restores the electric lights in the area. He sets to work, using his vibrant artworks to push back the darkness infecting the town. The premise doesn’t make a tonne of sense, but its message and execution are sweet and full of heart, much like the rest of the game.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Ash is determined to restore Denska to its former glory and each area of the town, including the lighthouse, has hanging fairy lights over some parts of buildings. Painting these areas will clear the dark vines that block your path to the next section. Mechanically, painting is more like placing large dynamic stickers rather than using your own brush strokes. You choose whether you want to paint something like a rainbow or a flower, use either motion controls or the right stick to choose its location, then drag across the screen to determine the general size and shape of the object.

Concrete Genie fills in the rest, adding fine details that can vary depending on the sticker. Flowers may create extra grass, and trees can grow additional branches, but it all works to make whatever you’re creating far more impressive. The artwork is made of light and genuinely quite beautiful–if a little overbearingly bright at times. Much like projected light art or bright neon signs, they work well in moderation but can get overly busy. You do have to go quite overboard to create something that’s actually ugly, which makes the act of painting the town really satisfying–you get to watch a boring dull environment become something quite pretty with very minimal effort.

To light up the hanging lights, any painting will do. This means that sometimes, for simplicity’s sake, I used the same art over and over again, covering the walls with butterflies or stars out of laziness. Occasionally, you may need to paint something specific, but even then it can get a little repetitive. All of the paintable objects come from your sketchbook the aforementioned bullies tore apart, and these pages are scattered all over Denska.

No Caption Provided

Sometimes you might not have the page you need yet, but setting out to find them gives you a genuine reason to explore the environment and fortunately, it’s really fun to do so. Ash is just a kid and doesn’t have superpowers, so he can’t jump particularly high or survive large falls, but he does have a spirited spring in his step. Clambering up the sides of buildings is quick and efficient while still feeling grounded and not at all floaty. Even if you do fall to your death, you’re immediately returned to where you fell from, and daredevil actions like sliding down power lines make getting around enjoyable without fear of punishment. There’s a really nice fluidity to his movements, which emboldens you to explore every nook and cranny to hunt down your strewn pages.

Along the way, you’ll also find spots to create new genies, which will in turn help you solve puzzles and access new areas. These genies have set colours which allow them to solve different elemental puzzles–red genies can burn down a tarp, for example, whereas blue ones can blow on specific objects, and yellow ones generate electricity to power various doors and switches. The downside to the puzzles is calling one genie to solve a problem calls all who are available to come, so often there’s not much active work on your part to solve them–Instead, the genies come along and, aside from a few exceptions, they’ll just solve it on their own. As genies are still technically paintings that exist on the walls they were painted on, they can only travel on connected walls and are locked in their own areas. This means you may need to have found the painting spot for the type of genie you need first, but this still isn’t very difficult.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

You also have a fair amount of control over how your genies will look, depending on how many genie design pages you’ve collected. The choices you make can impact their personalities, which can make interacting with them incredibly endearing–it’s also very easy to make some hot mess genies, but they don’t seem to mind their appearance. The interactions between Ash and the genies are very sweet–you can hang out with them, play games together, and paint things for them. Keeping your genies happy also makes them more likely to help you solve puzzles and provides you with Super Paint, which is required to paint over some surfaces, so the whole interaction with the genies feeds back into the positivity of the game.

Concrete Genie takes a surprising turn in the final act, when combat suddenly makes an appearance. As a part of the narrative, it makes sense and is an enjoyable twist, but because it’s such a short-lived mechanic it feels under-developed. Like the elements of the genies, you are granted three different elemental attacks that need to be used to take down different shields. The half-hour dedicated to combat, mostly involving boss fights, doesn’t give much opportunity for you to experiment with it. I’m still not sure if all the attacks did damage or whether some just caused status effects because there wasn’t enough time or enemies to organically work it out.

No Caption Provided

When you’re granted combat, you also gain new movement abilities, which include paint skating. This means you no longer have to run so much and can instead essentially skate on magical painted shoes. It makes getting around even more fluid than it was before, and unlike your ability to shoot elements, you get to keep this one even after the main story is completed. Because it’s introduced fairly late into the game, it makes jumping back in after the story to clean up collectibles really enjoyable. The game itself only takes about six hours to complete on an initial playthrough, and once it’s “over” you really do want to play more. But even with the 10 or so hours I spent finding all the secrets and collectibles, it still feels like some concepts could still have been explored to a greater degree.

Most of what Concrete Genie has to offer is fun and beautiful in a sort of childlike way. The game is not particularly difficult, and overcoming a puzzle or combat scenario isn’t always satisfying. But it’s ultimately still an endearing experience throughout. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be found just from the act of exploring, and little hidden secrets along the way help make it worthwhile; I just wish Concrete Genie had more adventure waiting for me.

Source: GameSpot.com

Concrete Genie Review – Rubs Me The Right Way

Restoring the place which harbors your fondest childhood memories is a cute and almost noble goal. In Concrete Genie you get to take something drab and dead and bring it back to life with colour, love, and warmth. It’s a very simple and short experience that focuses mainly on light puzzling, 3D platforming, and a little stealth, but its charm and general sense of playfulness really make it a worthwhile adventure.

In Concrete Genie you play as Ash, a boy who dreams of bringing his former home, a fishing port called Denksa, back to life. The town has been corrupted by an oil spill and negative emotions, and is now a desolate maze-like neighbourhood by the water. Ash’s love of art and memories of better days draw him to the run-down area, despite his parents’ warnings. Unfortunately for Ash, his bullies also enjoy running amok in the ghost town; they tear up his art book and push him into a cable car bound for Denska lighthouse (known for housing a ghost), starting him on a new journey.

Small drawings of the genies Ash drew as a child are scattered around the city and, when combined with the power of the lighthouse ghost, bring his paintings to life. These friendly genies bid him to use his artistic talents to paint the town using a new magic brush, which restores the electric lights in the area. He sets to work, using his vibrant artworks to push back the darkness infecting the town. The premise doesn’t make a tonne of sense, but its message and execution are sweet and full of heart, much like the rest of the game.

No Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Ash is determined to restore Denska to its former glory and each area of the town, including the lighthouse, has hanging fairy lights over some parts of buildings. Painting these areas will clear the dark vines that block your path to the next section. Mechanically, painting is more like placing large dynamic stickers rather than using your own brush strokes. You choose whether you want to paint something like a rainbow or a flower, use either motion controls or the right stick to choose its location, then drag across the screen to determine the general size and shape of the object.

Concrete Genie fills in the rest, adding fine details that can vary depending on the sticker. Flowers may create extra grass, and trees can grow additional branches, but it all works to make whatever you’re creating far more impressive. The artwork is made of light and genuinely quite beautiful–if a little overbearingly bright at times. Much like projected light art or bright neon signs, they work well in moderation but can get overly busy. You do have to go quite overboard to create something that’s actually ugly, which makes the act of painting the town really satisfying–you get to watch a boring dull environment become something quite pretty with very minimal effort.

To light up the hanging lights, any painting will do. This means that sometimes, for simplicity’s sake, I used the same art over and over again, covering the walls with butterflies or stars out of laziness. Occasionally, you may need to paint something specific, but even then it can get a little repetitive. All of the paintable objects come from your sketchbook the aforementioned bullies tore apart, and these pages are scattered all over Denska.

No Caption Provided

Sometimes you might not have the page you need yet, but setting out to find them gives you a genuine reason to explore the environment and fortunately, it’s really fun to do so. Ash is just a kid and doesn’t have superpowers, so he can’t jump particularly high or survive large falls, but he does have a spirited spring in his step. Clambering up the sides of buildings is quick and efficient while still feeling grounded and not at all floaty. Even if you do fall to your death, you’re immediately returned to where you fell from, and daredevil actions like sliding down power lines make getting around enjoyable without fear of punishment. There’s a really nice fluidity to his movements, which emboldens you to explore every nook and cranny to hunt down your strewn pages.

Along the way, you’ll also find spots to create new genies, which will in turn help you solve puzzles and access new areas. These genies have set colours which allow them to solve different elemental puzzles–red genies can burn down a tarp, for example, whereas blue ones can blow on specific objects, and yellow ones generate electricity to power various doors and switches. The downside to the puzzles is calling one genie to solve a problem calls all who are available to come, so often there’s not much active work on your part to solve them–Instead, the genies come along and, aside from a few exceptions, they’ll just solve it on their own. As genies are still technically paintings that exist on the walls they were painted on, they can only travel on connected walls and are locked in their own areas. This means you may need to have found the painting spot for the type of genie you need first, but this still isn’t very difficult.

No Caption ProvidedNo Caption Provided
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

You also have a fair amount of control over how your genies will look, depending on how many genie design pages you’ve collected. The choices you make can impact their personalities, which can make interacting with them incredibly endearing–it’s also very easy to make some hot mess genies, but they don’t seem to mind their appearance. The interactions between Ash and the genies are very sweet–you can hang out with them, play games together, and paint things for them. Keeping your genies happy also makes them more likely to help you solve puzzles and provides you with Super Paint, which is required to paint over some surfaces, so the whole interaction with the genies feeds back into the positivity of the game.

Concrete Genie takes a surprising turn in the final act, when combat suddenly makes an appearance. As a part of the narrative, it makes sense and is an enjoyable twist, but because it’s such a short-lived mechanic it feels under-developed. Like the elements of the genies, you are granted three different elemental attacks that need to be used to take down different shields. The half-hour dedicated to combat, mostly involving boss fights, doesn’t give much opportunity for you to experiment with it. I’m still not sure if all the attacks did damage or whether some just caused status effects because there wasn’t enough time or enemies to organically work it out.

No Caption ProvidedNo Caption Provided

When you’re granted combat, you also gain new movement abilities, which include paint skating. This means you no longer have to run so much and can instead essentially skate on magical painted shoes. It makes getting around even more fluid than it was before, and unlike your ability to shoot elements, you get to keep this one even after the main story is completed. Because it’s introduced fairly late into the game, it makes jumping back in after the story to clean up collectibles really enjoyable. The game itself only takes about six hours to complete on an initial playthrough, and once it’s “over” you really do want to play more. But even with the 10 or so hours I spent finding all the secrets and collectibles, it still feels like some concepts could still have been explored to a greater degree.

Most of what Concrete Genie has to offer is fun and beautiful in a sort of childlike way. The game is not particularly difficult, and overcoming a puzzle or combat scenario isn’t always satisfying. But it’s ultimately still an endearing experience throughout. There’s plenty of enjoyment to be found just from the act of exploring, and little hidden secrets along the way help make it worthwhile; I just wish Concrete Genie had more adventure waiting for me.

Source: GameSpot.com

Indivisible Review – Concentrated Power Of Will

There’s nothing quite like the bright, beautiful, and sometimes distraught world of Indivisible. It’s one that wears its Southeast/South Asian influences on its sleeve, and pulls you into places you want to be in with characters you want to be around. Developer Lab Zero blends several genre elements to create a system of combat and platforming that flows seamlessly between Indivisible’s seemingly disparate parts. It has so much going for it that it’s disappointing when heartfelt exchanges and pivotal moments lack the gravitas they deserve or are simply glossed over. While Indivisible has trouble following through narratively, I can’t shake its enjoyable moments and the sense of cultural visibility it gives a region I’m connected to.

Your journey across Indivisible’s world revolves around Ajna, the hard-headed but full-hearted protagonist who perpetually stumbles into revelations about her true nature. She makes new friends along the way who either have mutual goals in mind or don’t need much convincing to join her cause. Other than brief surprise, no one seems to bat an eye at the fact that they get physically absorbed into Ajna’s consciousness–a separate plane of existence that acts as a sort of hub area–only to be summoned in battle or in conversation. You’ll have to concede having deeper explanations other than Ajna’s supernatural powers and third-eye chakra which are connected to the ominous villain Kala, goddess of destruction and creation.

A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible's fights stand out.
A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible’s fights stand out.
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Although a handful of key characters are central to the story, you assemble a party of four from a large and varied roster that’s built up rather quickly. You assign a party member to a position in combat that corresponds with a face button; this is how you actively send them in to deal damage in real-time during an offensive phase and have them individually defend when enemies initiate attacks. Getting the hang of Indivisible’s hybrid of turn-based and real-time mechanics opens you up to inventive ways of combining different characters’ movesets and timing their specific attacks at the right time. It’s easy to see how Lab Zero channels elements of its previous game, Skullgirls–there’s a slight fighting game touch with combos, directional attacks, guard breaks, perfect blocks, and air juggling attacks. You also build up a meter, called Iddhi, which represents Ajna and friends’ ability to go into overdrive for executing powerful special attacks. Battles tend to move fast, and this layered combat system makes you eager to get into the next fight.

It’s not necessary to learn every character as it’s viable to stick with a handful of your favorites to cycle between for certain situations (they all level alongside Ajna so no one gets left behind). But as great as combat can be, you’ll be disappointed to know that its wonderful complexities are squandered by a lack of challenge towards the end of the game. Your party becomes so powerful that simple button mashing will get you by most, if not all, enemies and bosses. You’ll continually recruit new members in the late-game, too, but with little reason to get in tune with their mechanics. Combat’s biggest enemy is the lack of difficulty right when the stakes should be the highest.

Fighting is only half of Indivisible, gameplay-wise, though–it’s partly a 2D side-scrolling adventure that draws from Metroidvania-style exploration. As you accumulate new tools and powers, so too does your means of traversal. Ajna starts with an axe that she uses to propel herself upward to higher ledges, but she’ll soon be pole-vaulting, pogo-sticking, and monkey-swinging with a spear to avoid hazards and reach new areas. Her own superpowers eventually let you dash across wide gaps, jump to greater heights, and break through walls. What makes all these mechanics fun to use is that you face a variety of obstacles that force you to think about the clever ways you need to string together your toolset and abilities to overcome these platforming challenges.

Unlike combat, platforming steadily ramps up to a satisfying difficulty towards the end, but it’s never frustrating since you only face light punishment for death. Rather than loading a previous save, you get brought back to a generously placed checkpoint should you fail a sequence. What’s more, a number of boss battles merge the two gameplay styles and test you to juggle both at a rapid pace. That could sound like the game biting off more than it can chew, but the pace at which you transition between the two phases keep things moving seamlessly.

From one location to another, Indivisible’s imaginative art style gives you an unmistakable sense of where you are and the things that happen there. I’m still thinking about the rough streets of Tai Krung City, which come to life through neon signage, quirky apartment setups, lavish clubs, and sketchy alleyways. Even the grimy, oppressive Iron Kingdom clearly communicates a hardship among the common folk who inhabit the cobblestone roads, and you feel the bustle of the markets that occupy the colorful seaside town of Port Maerifa. That rich sense of style extends to each of the characters, who are beautifully realized in expressive, hand-drawn artwork. It’s an evolution of the imaginative style and designs from Skullgirls, and it helps distinguish each member of the wide, diverse cast.

Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.
Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.

Indivisible’s sensational soundtrack tops off the joy of exploration and complements the feelings you get from soaking in the beautiful visuals. The infectious tunes solidify the personality of Indivisible’s locations, a favorite among the tracks being the song that plays in Tai Krung City–its steel drums and upstroke guitar riffs hook you, but its somber melody reflects the town’s dreary side. And the energetic tempo and horn section of the club area’s song propels you to keep going, especially when it doubles as the battle theme. The Pacific Islander-influenced region of Kaanul features a theme with catchy woodwind instrumentation and a solemn string section. Indivisible’s soundtrack is very much part of the atmosphere it aims to build, and it’s one that’s worth listening to on its own.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now.

Indivisible roots itself in broad-reaching concepts from Southeast/South Asian mythologies and history. Every in-game region’s introduction is written in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru, the critical location for which Indivisible starts and concludes, is derived from the sacred mountain in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology that harnesses all things physical and spiritual. An important character, Thorani, who treats Ajna as one of her own, calls her luksao, the Thai word for daughter. You can also spot smaller pop culture references, too–special shout out to the Jollibee reference in Tai Krung City, and a charming wannabe-Kamen Rider stand-in. Even down to character names, there are so many more connections to draw. While Indivisible doesn’t necessarily explore these cultures in any particular depth or in more meaningful ways, it gives the stage to a diverse region to tell a simple story of personal growth, self-acceptance, and sacrifice.

I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

With that said, while Indivisible has the foundation to portray something powerful it doesn’t exactly follow through. Many of Indivisible’s major story beats lack the necessary impact they need to stick with you and get you fully invested in Ajna’s fight to save the world. While there’s an assortment of likeable personalities and quips between characters, and the voice acting performances shine, many dialogue sequences don’t reflect the gravity of the situations that unfold. For example, Ajna internalizes life-altering events in ways that frame them as frustrations to her rather than tragedies. And when she inadvertently causes destruction, it’s largely brushed off as an accident with consequences that aren’t communicated. Characters are quick to change their minds about things without portraying the process through which they came to their conclusions, undermining possible emotional stakes.

There are key moments when other characters push back and confront others to think harder about what they’re doing. Whether it’s characters who open themselves up to feel any sort of positive emotion, go through a sincere redemption arc, or provide unquestioning support, you can identify the times Indivisible gets it right. I can’t help but wish that the story contained these highlights more often than not.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now. As a whole, it sometimes doesn’t come together; it’s missing weight to its narrative and the challenges necessary to flex its wonderful combat system. But it stands out as an RPG that’s doing something genuinely different, and it brings joy to its clever platforming with the tune of an infectious soundtrack. For all its faults, Indivisible has its heart in the right place.

Source: GameSpot.com

Indivisible Review – Represent Your Motherland

There’s nothing quite like the bright, beautiful, and sometimes distraught world of Indivisible. It’s one that wears its Southeast/South Asian influences on its sleeve, and pulls you into places you want to be in with characters you want to be around. Developer Lab Zero blends several genre elements to create a system of combat and platforming that flows seamlessly between Indivisible’s seemingly disparate parts. It has so much going for it that it’s disappointing when heartfelt exchanges and pivotal moments lack the gravitas they deserve or are simply glossed over. While Indivisible has trouble following through narratively, I can’t shake its enjoyable moments and the sense of cultural visibility it gives a region I’m connected to.

Your journey across Indivisible’s world revolves around Ajna, the hard-headed but full-hearted protagonist who perpetually stumbles into revelations about her true nature. She makes new friends along the way who either have mutual goals in mind or don’t need much convincing to join her cause. Other than brief surprise, no one seems to bat an eye at the fact that they get physically absorbed into Ajna’s consciousness–a separate plane of existence that acts as a sort of hub area–only to be summoned in battle or in conversation. You’ll have to concede having deeper explanations other than Ajna’s supernatural powers and third-eye chakra which are connected to the ominous villain Kala, goddess of destruction and creation.

A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible's fights stand out.
A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible’s fights stand out.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Although a handful of key characters are central to the story, you assemble a party of four from a large and varied roster that’s built up rather quickly. You assign a party member to a position in combat that corresponds with a face button; this is how you actively send them in to deal damage in real-time during an offensive phase and have them individually defend when enemies initiate attacks. Getting the hang of Indivisible’s hybrid of turn-based and real-time mechanics opens you up to inventive ways of combining different characters’ movesets and timing their specific attacks at the right time. It’s easy to see how Lab Zero channels elements of its previous game, Skullgirls–there’s a slight fighting game touch with combos, directional attacks, guard breaks, perfect blocks, and air juggling attacks. You also build up a meter, called Iddhi, which represents Ajna and friends’ ability to go into overdrive for executing powerful special attacks. Battles tend to move fast, and this layered combat system makes you eager to get into the next fight.

It’s not necessary to learn every character as it’s viable to stick with a handful of your favorites to cycle between for certain situations (they all level alongside Ajna so no one gets left behind). But as great as combat can be, you’ll be disappointed to know that its wonderful complexities are squandered by a lack of challenge towards the end of the game. Your party becomes so powerful that simple button mashing will get you by most, if not all, enemies and bosses. You’ll continually recruit new members in the late-game, too, but with little reason to get in tune with their mechanics. Combat’s biggest enemy is the lack of difficulty right when the stakes should be the highest.

Fighting is only half of Indivisible, gameplay-wise, though–it’s partly a 2D side-scrolling adventure that draws from Metroidvania-style exploration. As you accumulate new tools and powers, so too does your means of traversal. Ajna starts with an axe that she uses to propel herself upward to higher ledges, but she’ll soon be pole-vaulting, pogo-sticking, and monkey-swinging with a spear to avoid hazards and reach new areas. Her own superpowers eventually let you dash across wide gaps, jump to greater heights, and break through walls. What makes all these mechanics fun to use is that you face a variety of obstacles that force you to think about the clever ways you need to string together your toolset and abilities to overcome these platforming challenges.

Unlike combat, platforming steadily ramps up to a satisfying difficulty towards the end, but it’s never frustrating since you only face light punishment for death. Rather than loading a previous save, you get brought back to a generously placed checkpoint should you fail a sequence. What’s more, a number of boss battles merge the two gameplay styles and test you to juggle both at a rapid pace. That could sound like the game biting off more than it can chew, but the pace at which you transition between the two phases keep things moving seamlessly.

From one location to another, Indivisible’s imaginative art style gives you an unmistakable sense of where you are and the things that happen there. I’m still thinking about the rough streets of Tai Krung City, which come to life through neon signage, quirky apartment setups, lavish clubs, and sketchy alleyways. Even the grimy, oppressive Iron Kingdom clearly communicates a hardship among the common folk who inhabit the cobblestone roads, and you feel the bustle of the markets that occupy the colorful seaside town of Port Maerifa. That rich sense of style extends to each of the characters, who are beautifully realized in expressive, hand-drawn artwork. It’s an evolution of the imaginative style and designs from Skullgirls, and it helps distinguish each member of the wide, diverse cast.

Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.
Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.

Indivisible’s sensational soundtrack tops off the joy of exploration and complements the feelings you get from soaking in the beautiful visuals. The infectious tunes solidify the personality of Indivisible’s locations, a favorite among the tracks being the song that plays in Tai Krung City–its steel drums and upstroke guitar riffs hook you, but its somber melody reflects the town’s dreary side. And the energetic tempo and horn section of the club area’s song propels you to keep going, especially when it doubles as the battle theme. The Pacific Islander-influenced region of Kaanul features a theme with catchy woodwind instrumentation and a solemn string section. Indivisible’s soundtrack is very much part of the atmosphere it aims to build, and it’s one that’s worth listening to on its own.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now.

Indivisible roots itself in broad-reaching concepts from Southeast/South Asian mythologies and history. Every in-game region’s introduction is written in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru, the critical location for which Indivisible starts and concludes, is derived from the sacred mountain in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology that harnesses all things physical and spiritual. An important character, Thorani, who treats Ajna as one of her own, calls her luksao, the Thai word for daughter. You can also spot smaller pop culture references, too–special shout out to the Jollibee reference in Tai Krung City, and a charming wannabe-Kamen Rider stand-in. Even down to character names, there are so many more connections to draw. While Indivisible doesn’t necessarily explore these cultures in any particular depth or in more meaningful ways, it gives the stage to a diverse region to tell a simple story of personal growth, self-acceptance, and sacrifice.

I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

With that said, while Indivisible has the foundation to portray something powerful it doesn’t exactly follow through. Many of Indivisible’s major story beats lack the necessary impact they need to stick with you and get you fully invested in Ajna’s fight to save the world. While there’s an assortment of likeable personalities and quips between characters, and the voice acting performances shine, many dialogue sequences don’t reflect the gravity of the situations that unfold. For example, Ajna internalizes life-altering events in ways that frame them as frustrations to her rather than tragedies. And when she inadvertently causes destruction, it’s largely brushed off as an accident with consequences that aren’t communicated. Characters are quick to change their minds about things without portraying the process through which they came to their conclusions, undermining possible emotional stakes.

There are key moments when other characters push back and confront others to think harder about what they’re doing. Whether it’s characters who open themselves up to feel any sort of positive emotion, go through a sincere redemption arc, or provide unquestioning support, you can identify the times Indivisible gets it right. I can’t help but wish that the story contained these highlights more often than not.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now. As a whole, it sometimes doesn’t come together; it’s missing weight to its narrative and the challenges necessary to flex its wonderful combat system. But it stands out as an RPG that’s doing something genuinely different, and it brings joy to its clever platforming with the tune of an infectious soundtrack. For all its faults, Indivisible has its heart in the right place.

Source: GameSpot.com

Indivisible Review – For The Motherland

There’s nothing quite like the bright, beautiful, and sometimes distraught world of Indivisible. It’s one that wears its Southeast/South Asian influences on its sleeve, and pulls you into places you want to be in with characters you want to be around. Developer Lab Zero blends several genre elements to create a system of combat and platforming that flows seamlessly between Indivisible’s seemingly disparate parts. It has so much going for it that it’s disappointing when heartfelt exchanges and pivotal moments lack the gravitas they deserve or are simply glossed over. While Indivisible has trouble following through narratively, I can’t shake its enjoyable moments and the sense of cultural visibility it gives a region I’m connected to.

Your journey across Indivisible’s world revolves around Ajna, the hard-headed but full-hearted protagonist who perpetually stumbles into revelations about her true nature. She makes new friends along the way who either have mutual goals in mind or don’t need much convincing to join her cause. Other than brief surprise, no one seems to bat an eye at the fact that they get physically absorbed into Ajna’s consciousness–a separate plane of existence that acts as a sort of hub area–only to be summoned in battle or in conversation. You’ll have to concede having deeper explanations other than Ajna’s supernatural powers and third-eye chakra which are connected to the ominous villain Kala, goddess of destruction and creation.

A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible's fights stand out.
A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible’s fights stand out.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Although a handful of key characters are central to the story, you assemble a party of four from a large and varied roster that’s built up rather quickly. You assign a party member to a position in combat that corresponds with a face button; this is how you actively send them in to deal damage in real-time during an offensive phase and have them individually defend when enemies initiate attacks. Getting the hang of Indivisible’s hybrid of turn-based and real-time mechanics opens you up to inventive ways of combining different characters’ movesets and timing their specific attacks at the right time. It’s easy to see how Lab Zero channels elements of its previous game, Skullgirls–there’s a slight fighting game touch with combos, directional attacks, guard breaks, perfect blocks, and air juggling attacks. You also build up a meter, called Iddhi, which represents Ajna and friends’ ability to go into overdrive for executing powerful special attacks. Battles tend to move fast, and this layered combat system makes you eager to get into the next fight.

It’s not necessary to learn every character as it’s viable to stick with a handful of your favorites to cycle between for certain situations (they all level alongside Ajna so no one gets left behind). But as great as combat can be, you’ll be disappointed to know that its wonderful complexities are squandered by a lack of challenge towards the end of the game. Your party becomes so powerful that simple button mashing will get you by most, if not all, enemies and bosses. You’ll continually recruit new members in the late-game, too, but with little reason to get in tune with their mechanics. Combat’s biggest enemy is the lack of difficulty right when the stakes should be the highest.

Fighting is only half of Indivisible, gameplay-wise, though–it’s partly a 2D side-scrolling adventure that draws from Metroidvania-style exploration. As you accumulate new tools and powers, so too does your means of traversal. Ajna starts with an axe that she uses to propel herself upward to higher ledges, but she’ll soon be pole-vaulting, pogo-sticking, and monkey-swinging with a spear to avoid hazards and reach new areas. Her own superpowers eventually let you dash across wide gaps, jump to greater heights, and break through walls. What makes all these mechanics fun to use is that you face a variety of obstacles that force you to think about the clever ways you need to string together your toolset and abilities to overcome these platforming challenges.

Unlike combat, platforming steadily ramps up to a satisfying difficulty towards the end, but it’s never frustrating since you only face light punishment for death. Rather than loading a previous save, you get brought back to a generously placed checkpoint should you fail a sequence. What’s more, a number of boss battles merge the two gameplay styles and test you to juggle both at a rapid pace. That could sound like the game biting off more than it can chew, but the pace at which you transition between the two phases keep things moving seamlessly.

From one location to another, Indivisible’s imaginative art style gives you an unmistakable sense of where you are and the things that happen there. I’m still thinking about the rough streets of Tai Krung City, which come to life through neon signage, quirky apartment setups, lavish clubs, and sketchy alleyways. Even the grimy, oppressive Iron Kingdom clearly communicates a hardship among the common folk who inhabit the cobblestone roads, and you feel the bustle of the markets that occupy the colorful seaside town of Port Maerifa. That rich sense of style extends to each of the characters, who are beautifully realized in expressive, hand-drawn artwork. It’s an evolution of the imaginative style and designs from Skullgirls, and it helps distinguish each member of the wide, diverse cast.

Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.
Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.

Indivisible’s sensational soundtrack tops off the joy of exploration and complements the feelings you get from soaking in the beautiful visuals. The infectious tunes solidify the personality of Indivisible’s locations, a favorite among the tracks being the song that plays in Tai Krung City–its steel drums and upstroke guitar riffs hook you, but its somber melody reflects the town’s dreary side. And the energetic tempo and horn section of the club area’s song propels you to keep going, especially when it doubles as the battle theme. The Pacific Islander-influenced region of Kaanul features a theme with catchy woodwind instrumentation and a solemn string section. Indivisible’s soundtrack is very much part of the atmosphere it aims to build, and it’s one that’s worth listening to on its own.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now.

Indivisible roots itself in broad-reaching concepts from Southeast/South Asian mythologies and history. Every in-game region’s introduction is written in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru, the critical location for which Indivisible starts and concludes, is derived from the sacred mountain in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology that harnesses all things physical and spiritual. An important character, Thorani, who treats Ajna as one of her own, calls her luksao, the Thai word for daughter. You can also spot smaller pop culture references, too–special shout out to the Jollibee reference in Tai Krung City, and a charming wannabe-Kamen Rider stand-in. Even down to character names, there are so many more connections to draw. While Indivisible doesn’t necessarily explore these cultures in any particular depth or in more meaningful ways, it gives the stage to a diverse region to tell a simple story of personal growth, self-acceptance, and sacrifice.

I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

With that said, while Indivisible has the foundation to portray something powerful it doesn’t exactly follow through. Many of Indivisible’s major story beats lack the necessary impact they need to stick with you and get you fully invested in Ajna’s fight to save the world. While there’s an assortment of likeable personalities and quips between characters, and the voice acting performances shine, many dialogue sequences don’t reflect the gravity of the situations that unfold. For example, Ajna internalizes life-altering events in ways that frame them as frustrations to her rather than tragedies. And when she inadvertently causes destruction, it’s largely brushed off as an accident with consequences that aren’t communicated. Characters are quick to change their minds about things without portraying the process through which they came to their conclusions, undermining possible emotional stakes.

There are key moments when other characters push back and confront others to think harder about what they’re doing. Whether it’s characters who open themselves up to feel any sort of positive emotion, go through a sincere redemption arc, or provide unquestioning support, you can identify the times Indivisible gets it right. I can’t help but wish that the story contained these highlights more often than not.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now. As a whole, it sometimes doesn’t come together; it’s missing weight to its narrative and the challenges necessary to flex its wonderful combat system. But it stands out as an RPG that’s doing something genuinely different, and it brings joy to its clever platforming with the tune of an infectious soundtrack. For all its faults, Indivisible has its heart in the right place.

Source: GameSpot.com

Indivisible Review – Moving Mountains

There’s nothing quite like the bright, beautiful, and sometimes distraught world of Indivisible. It’s one that wears its Southeast/South Asian influences on its sleeve, and pulls you into places you want to be in with characters you want to be around. Developer Lab Zero blends several genre elements to create a system of combat and platforming that flows seamlessly between Indivisible’s seemingly disparate parts. It has so much going for it that it’s disappointing when heartfelt exchanges and pivotal moments lack the gravitas they deserve or are simply glossed over. While Indivisible has trouble following through narratively, I can’t shake its enjoyable moments and the sense of cultural visibility it gives a region I’m connected to.

Your journey across Indivisible’s world revolves around Ajna, the hard-headed but full-hearted protagonist who perpetually stumbles into revelations about her true nature. She makes new friends along the way who either have mutual goals in mind or don’t need much convincing to join her cause. Other than brief surprise, no one seems to bat an eye at the fact that they get physically absorbed into Ajna’s consciousness–a separate plane of existence that acts as a sort of hub area–only to be summoned in battle or in conversation. You’ll have to concede having deeper explanations other than Ajna’s supernatural powers and third-eye chakra which are connected to the ominous villain Kala, goddess of destruction and creation.

A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible's fights stand out.
A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible’s fights stand out.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

Although a handful of key characters are central to the story, you assemble a party of four from a large and varied roster that’s built up rather quickly. You assign a party member to a position in combat that corresponds with a face button; this is how you actively send them in to deal damage in real-time during an offensive phase and have them individually defend when enemies initiate attacks. Getting the hang of Indivisible’s hybrid of turn-based and real-time mechanics opens you up to inventive ways of combining different characters’ movesets and timing their specific attacks at the right time. It’s easy to see how Lab Zero channels elements of its previous game, Skullgirls–there’s a slight fighting game touch with combos, directional attacks, guard breaks, perfect blocks, and air juggling attacks. You also build up a meter, called Iddhi, which represents Ajna and friends’ ability to go into overdrive for executing powerful special attacks. Battles tend to move fast, and this layered combat system makes you eager to get into the next fight.

It’s not necessary to learn every character as it’s viable to stick with a handful of your favorites to cycle between for certain situations (they all level alongside Ajna so no one gets left behind). But as great as combat can be, you’ll be disappointed to know that its wonderful complexities are squandered by a lack of challenge towards the end of the game. Your party becomes so powerful that simple button mashing will get you by most, if not all, enemies and bosses. You’ll continually recruit new members in the late-game, too, but with little reason to get in tune with their mechanics. Combat’s biggest enemy is the lack of difficulty right when the stakes should be the highest.

Fighting is only half of Indivisible, gameplay-wise, though–it’s partly a 2D side-scrolling adventure that draws from Metroidvania-style exploration. As you accumulate new tools and powers, so too does your means of traversal. Ajna starts with an axe that she uses to propel herself upward to higher ledges, but she’ll soon be pole-vaulting, pogo-sticking, and monkey-swinging with a spear to avoid hazards and reach new areas. Her own superpowers eventually let you dash across wide gaps, jump to greater heights, and break through walls. What makes all these mechanics fun to use is that you face a variety of obstacles that force you to think about the clever ways you need to string together your toolset and abilities to overcome these platforming challenges.

Unlike combat, platforming steadily ramps up to a satisfying difficulty towards the end, but it’s never frustrating since you only face light punishment for death. Rather than loading a previous save, you get brought back to a generously placed checkpoint should you fail a sequence. What’s more, a number of boss battles merge the two gameplay styles and test you to juggle both at a rapid pace. That could sound like the game biting off more than it can chew, but the pace at which you transition between the two phases keep things moving seamlessly.

From one location to another, Indivisible’s imaginative art style gives you an unmistakable sense of where you are and the things that happen there. I’m still thinking about the rough streets of Tai Krung City, which come to life through neon signage, quirky apartment setups, lavish clubs, and sketchy alleyways. Even the grimy, oppressive Iron Kingdom clearly communicates a hardship among the common folk who inhabit the cobblestone roads, and you feel the bustle of the markets that occupy the colorful seaside town of Port Maerifa. That rich sense of style extends to each of the characters, who are beautifully realized in expressive, hand-drawn artwork. It’s an evolution of the imaginative style and designs from Skullgirls, and it helps distinguish each member of the wide, diverse cast.

Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.
Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.

Indivisible’s sensational soundtrack tops off the joy of exploration and complements the feelings you get from soaking in the beautiful visuals. The infectious tunes solidify the personality of Indivisible’s locations, a favorite among the tracks being the song that plays in Tai Krung City–its steel drums and upstroke guitar riffs hook you, but its somber melody reflects the town’s dreary side. And the energetic tempo and horn section of the club area’s song propels you to keep going, especially when it doubles as the battle theme. The Pacific Islander-influenced region of Kaanul features a theme with catchy woodwind instrumentation and a solemn string section. Indivisible’s soundtrack is very much part of the atmosphere it aims to build, and it’s one that’s worth listening to on its own.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now.

Indivisible roots itself in broad-reaching concepts from Southeast/South Asian mythologies and history. Every in-game region’s introduction is written in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru, the critical location for which Indivisible starts and concludes, is derived from the sacred mountain in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology that harnesses all things physical and spiritual. An important character, Thorani, who treats Ajna as one of her own, calls her luksao, the Thai word for daughter. You can also spot smaller pop culture references, too–special shout out to the Jollibee reference in Tai Krung City, and a charming wannabe-Kamen Rider stand-in. Even down to character names, there are so many more connections to draw. While Indivisible doesn’t necessarily explore these cultures in any particular depth or in more meaningful ways, it gives the stage to a diverse region to tell a simple story of personal growth, self-acceptance, and sacrifice.

I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
Gallery image 1Gallery image 2Gallery image 3Gallery image 4Gallery image 5Gallery image 6Gallery image 7Gallery image 8Gallery image 9Gallery image 10

With that said, while Indivisible has the foundation to portray something powerful it doesn’t exactly follow through. Many of Indivisible’s major story beats lack the necessary impact they need to stick with you and get you fully invested in Ajna’s fight to save the world. While there’s an assortment of likeable personalities and quips between characters, and the voice acting performances shine, many dialogue sequences don’t reflect the gravity of the situations that unfold. For example, Ajna internalizes life-altering events in ways that frame them as frustrations to her rather than tragedies. And when she inadvertently causes destruction, it’s largely brushed off as an accident with consequences that aren’t communicated. Characters are quick to change their minds about things without portraying the process through which they came to their conclusions, undermining possible emotional stakes.

There are key moments when other characters push back and confront others to think harder about what they’re doing. Whether it’s characters who open themselves up to feel any sort of positive emotion, go through a sincere redemption arc, or provide unquestioning support, you can identify the times Indivisible gets it right. I can’t help but wish that the story contained these highlights more often than not.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now. As a whole, it sometimes doesn’t come together; it’s missing weight to its narrative and the challenges necessary to flex its wonderful combat system. But it stands out as an RPG that’s doing something genuinely different, and it brings joy to its clever platforming with the tune of an infectious soundtrack. For all its faults, Indivisible has its heart in the right place.

Source: GameSpot.com

Indivisible Review – Asian Amalgamation

There’s nothing quite like the bright, beautiful, and sometimes distraught world of Indivisible. It’s one that wears its Southeast/South Asian influences on its sleeve, and pulls you into places you want to be in with characters you want to be around. Developer Lab Zero blends several genre elements to create a system of combat and platforming that flows seamlessly between Indivisible’s seemingly disparate parts. It has so much going for it that it’s disappointing when heartfelt exchanges and pivotal moments lack the gravitas they deserve or are simply glossed over. While Indivisible has trouble following through narratively, I can’t shake its enjoyable moments and the sense of cultural visibility it gives a region I’m connected to.

Your journey across Indivisible’s world revolves around Ajna, the hard-headed but full-hearted protagonist who perpetually stumbles into revelations about her true nature. She makes new friends along the way who either have mutual goals in mind or don’t need much convincing to join her cause. Other than brief surprise, no one seems to bat an eye at the fact that they get physically absorbed into Ajna’s consciousness–a separate plane of existence that acts as a sort of hub area–only to be summoned in battle or in conversation. You’ll have to concede having deeper explanations other than Ajna’s supernatural powers and third-eye chakra which are connected to the ominous villain Kala, goddess of destruction and creation.

A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible's fights stand out.
A diverse cast of characters and a creative combat system make Indivisible’s fights stand out.
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Although a handful of key characters are central to the story, you assemble a party of four from a large and varied roster that’s built up rather quickly. You assign a party member to a position in combat that corresponds with a face button; this is how you actively send them in to deal damage in real-time during an offensive phase and have them individually defend when enemies initiate attacks. Getting the hang of Indivisible’s hybrid of turn-based and real-time mechanics opens you up to inventive ways of combining different characters’ movesets and timing their specific attacks at the right time. It’s easy to see how Lab Zero channels elements of its previous game, Skullgirls–there’s a slight fighting game touch with combos, directional attacks, guard breaks, perfect blocks, and air juggling attacks. You also build up a meter, called Iddhi, which represents Ajna and friends’ ability to go into overdrive for executing powerful special attacks. Battles tend to move fast, and this layered combat system makes you eager to get into the next fight.

It’s not necessary to learn every character as it’s viable to stick with a handful of your favorites to cycle between for certain situations (they all level alongside Ajna so no one gets left behind). But as great as combat can be, you’ll be disappointed to know that its wonderful complexities are squandered by a lack of challenge towards the end of the game. Your party becomes so powerful that simple button mashing will get you by most, if not all, enemies and bosses. You’ll continually recruit new members in the late-game, too, but with little reason to get in tune with their mechanics. Combat’s biggest enemy is the lack of difficulty right when the stakes should be the highest.

Fighting is only half of Indivisible, gameplay-wise, though–it’s partly a 2D side-scrolling adventure that draws from Metroidvania-style exploration. As you accumulate new tools and powers, so too does your means of traversal. Ajna starts with an axe that she uses to propel herself upward to higher ledges, but she’ll soon be pole-vaulting, pogo-sticking, and monkey-swinging with a spear to avoid hazards and reach new areas. Her own superpowers eventually let you dash across wide gaps, jump to greater heights, and break through walls. What makes all these mechanics fun to use is that you face a variety of obstacles that force you to think about the clever ways you need to string together your toolset and abilities to overcome these platforming challenges.

Unlike combat, platforming steadily ramps up to a satisfying difficulty towards the end, but it’s never frustrating since you only face light punishment for death. Rather than loading a previous save, you get brought back to a generously placed checkpoint should you fail a sequence. What’s more, a number of boss battles merge the two gameplay styles and test you to juggle both at a rapid pace. That could sound like the game biting off more than it can chew, but the pace at which you transition between the two phases keep things moving seamlessly.

From one location to another, Indivisible’s imaginative art style gives you an unmistakable sense of where you are and the things that happen there. I’m still thinking about the rough streets of Tai Krung City, which come to life through neon signage, quirky apartment setups, lavish clubs, and sketchy alleyways. Even the grimy, oppressive Iron Kingdom clearly communicates a hardship among the common folk who inhabit the cobblestone roads, and you feel the bustle of the markets that occupy the colorful seaside town of Port Maerifa. That rich sense of style extends to each of the characters, who are beautifully realized in expressive, hand-drawn artwork. It’s an evolution of the imaginative style and designs from Skullgirls, and it helps distinguish each member of the wide, diverse cast.

Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.
Excellent platforming scenarios challenge you to use all your tools and powers.

Indivisible’s sensational soundtrack tops off the joy of exploration and complements the feelings you get from soaking in the beautiful visuals. The infectious tunes solidify the personality of Indivisible’s locations, a favorite among the tracks being the song that plays in Tai Krung City–its steel drums and upstroke guitar riffs hook you, but its somber melody reflects the town’s dreary side. And the energetic tempo and horn section of the club area’s song propels you to keep going, especially when it doubles as the battle theme. The Pacific Islander-influenced region of Kaanul features a theme with catchy woodwind instrumentation and a solemn string section. Indivisible’s soundtrack is very much part of the atmosphere it aims to build, and it’s one that’s worth listening to on its own.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now.

Indivisible roots itself in broad-reaching concepts from Southeast/South Asian mythologies and history. Every in-game region’s introduction is written in Sanskrit. Mount Sumeru, the critical location for which Indivisible starts and concludes, is derived from the sacred mountain in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain mythology that harnesses all things physical and spiritual. An important character, Thorani, who treats Ajna as one of her own, calls her luksao, the Thai word for daughter. You can also spot smaller pop culture references, too–special shout out to the Jollibee reference in Tai Krung City, and a charming wannabe-Kamen Rider stand-in. Even down to character names, there are so many more connections to draw. While Indivisible doesn’t necessarily explore these cultures in any particular depth or in more meaningful ways, it gives the stage to a diverse region to tell a simple story of personal growth, self-acceptance, and sacrifice.

I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
I wonder how the three-piece chickenjoy and halo-halo are at Jolly Katydid.
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With that said, while Indivisible has the foundation to portray something powerful it doesn’t exactly follow through. Many of Indivisible’s major story beats lack the necessary impact they need to stick with you and get you fully invested in Ajna’s fight to save the world. While there’s an assortment of likeable personalities and quips between characters, and the voice acting performances shine, many dialogue sequences don’t reflect the gravity of the situations that unfold. For example, Ajna internalizes life-altering events in ways that frame them as frustrations to her rather than tragedies. And when she inadvertently causes destruction, it’s largely brushed off as an accident with consequences that aren’t communicated. Characters are quick to change their minds about things without portraying the process through which they came to their conclusions, undermining possible emotional stakes.

There are key moments when other characters push back and confront others to think harder about what they’re doing. Whether it’s characters who open themselves up to feel any sort of positive emotion, go through a sincere redemption arc, or provide unquestioning support, you can identify the times Indivisible gets it right. I can’t help but wish that the story contained these highlights more often than not.

I want to love Indivisible unconditionally; it has so many great pieces, and it’s a special thing to feel seen. I’m happy to have a game that’s distinctly Southeast Asian, giving some earnest representation to a part of the world I belong to and one I’m even more curious about now. As a whole, it sometimes doesn’t come together; it’s missing weight to its narrative and the challenges necessary to flex its wonderful combat system. But it stands out as an RPG that’s doing something genuinely different, and it brings joy to its clever platforming with the tune of an infectious soundtrack. For all its faults, Indivisible has its heart in the right place.

Source: GameSpot.com

Yooka-Laylee And The Impossible Lair Review – Uninvited Nostalgia

It’s easy to love Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair when you start. The platformer is bursting with bright, saturated hues at every turn, with a whimsical soundtrack that’s as catchy as it is cheery. It’s a delightful veneer that quickly gives way to an otherwise predictable and unremarkable platformer. Despite changing its formula from full 3D to 2.5D, Yooka-Laylee is still too firmly rooted in a bygone era for platformers.

This shortcoming is hard to see at first, especially with Impossible Lair’s intriguing setup. In theory, the Impossible Lair is an endgame challenge you can attempt in the opening moments of the game. It’s a gauntlet of spike traps and moving platforms, populated to the brim with enemies ready to chew you up and spit you back out. Each stage outside of the Lair is meant to help you with this. You’re rewarded with a bee when you complete a stage, each acting as an additional hit point when you attempt the Lair once more. Gathering as many bees as you can lets you push further in while affording you more mistakes. This entices you to check back in with the Impossible Lair from time to time, seeing how well your new health pool holds up and if that (combined with your improving platforming skills) are enough to best it.

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In practice, though, you’re going to need pretty much every bee Yooka and Laylee can find, mostly due to how ridiculously difficult the Impossible Lair is compared to the rest of the game. It lives up to its name almost too closely, with no checkpoints throughout and long stretches of deadly chasms that will reset your progress significantly should you fall. It’s completely different from the rest of the game’s stages, which are well-paced with checkpoints and feature options to skip entire segments if you just can’t get them right. The shift from accessible, pleasant platforming to a poorly balanced test of skill isn’t an inviting one, and it sullies the otherwise interesting idea of having the Impossible Lair accessible at all times.

Outside of the Lair itself, this half-sequel, half-reinvention splits up into two distinctly different types of games. Individual stages are standard 2.5D platforming fare, tasking you with moving from start to finish, while a handful revolve around hunting down collectible items for completion. You navigate through spike traps, swinging ropes, rotating platforms, and dangerous cannons; everything feels familiar enough if you’ve played a platformer before. Enemies come in different varieties–some will hop in the air, others will charge at you on sight, and still others will simply move between ledges–but their designs aren’t visually exciting enough to be memorable.

As familiar as they are, it’s not long before stages start to feel like chores. Part of the problem is the merely serviceable platforming at its core. Yooka and his companion Laylee don’t feel bad to control per se, but there’s nothing exceptional about their move set either. Jumps feel a little floaty and it’s annoying that your only attack is mapped to the same button as your roll (any hint of directional movement initiates the latter, and there’s no way to change the control scheme), but outside of that there’s really nothing remarkably good or bad about making your way through stages. It just feels far too routine, which quickly becomes boring no matter how varied the stages get as you progress.

There are technically 20 distinct stages, but in practice it’s double that. Each stage can be manipulated in the hub world to alter both their makeup and challenge. For example, one level entrance on land can be submerged in water, flooding it and making new routes accessible via swimming. The changes are sometimes substantial, like introducing massive gusts of wind to help you float through the air or lasers that chase you through a route that was otherwise safe before. There are routes you’ll see on your first run through a stage that are clearly meant for your inevitable return visit under different circumstances, which is a nice touch to their overall design.

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Outside of these stages, the game transforms into an isometric 3D platformer, which lets you navigate through a relatively large world as you hop between individual stages. This area is more than just a hub for the real platforming awaiting; it’s a self-contained stage unto itself, filled with its own puzzles, secret areas to uncover, and characters to interact with. Each part of the map is themed–there’s one with large sentient fans that block paths with gusts of wind and an arid desert with a winding pipe system encroaching on its sparse wilderness, for example–which keeps things fresh as you travel between them.

Solving puzzles in this hub world rewards you with some additional bees for the Impossible Lair, but also with quills and tonics. You collect thousands of quills throughout your time in the game, using them to unlock the abilities that tonics offer, which can be incredibly useful in some tricky stages. One will force Laylee to stick around longer after getting hit, giving you more time to recover her and regain both her abilities and an additional hit point. Others let you glide for longer after a jump or lets Laylee emit a sonar pulse to reveal nearby collectibles. Others are just cosmetic. You can drench the screen in a variety of filters using FX tonics, or marvel at what a modern platformer would look like in a 4:3 aspect ratio before switching it back. They’re good for a giggle or two, but not much beyond that.

Finding tonics is more fun than messing around with the abilities they offer. Secret paths are obscured slightly with the fixed camera angle, which makes picking apart your surroundings and uncovering them a treat. Others require some lightly skilled platforming to reach entrances to small caves (which themselves are sometimes locked away behind rocks you need to demolish or prickly shrubs you need to burn away) or the deciphering of clues from other characters to find keys to locked chests. It gives you more reasons to interact with the hub world behind just shepherding yourself from one stage to the next and lets you tackle them in your own time.

The Impossible Lair is definitely a better attempt at capturing the magic of platformers than Yooka-Laylee’s first crack at it, but it’s still not remarkable.

What isn’t as engrossing is the progression system that governs how you move between each part of the hub world. Gates, jokingly referred to as paywalls, are erected throughout the world, and each requires T.W.I.T coins to unlock. There are five T.W.I.T coins in each stage, hidden in shrewdly obscured rooms or located at the end of particularly challenging platforming routes, both of which are satisfying. Initially it’s pretty easy to get by using the few you find naturally through playing. But the high requirement for later gates means replaying stages you’ve already completed is unavoidable, which quickly introduces an unpleasant pattern of repetition. It’s a slog to have to slowly comb through levels you’ve finished to find one or two coins at a time just so that you can continue on the game’s main path.

Having to backtrack through stages to eventually reach and tackle the Impossible Lair would be more tolerable if the final encounter wasn’t such a steep difficulty spike, but in truth it’s likely you’ll tire of its routine platforming well before that disappointment sets in. The Impossible Lair is definitely a better attempt at capturing the magic of platformers than Yooka-Laylee’s first crack at it, but it’s still not remarkable. If you’re itching to return to a bygone era, then The Impossible Lair might scratch it. Just don’t expect much beyond that.

Source: GameSpot.com