Captured on Nintendo Switch (portable/undocked)
We begin our time with Mojiken Studio’s A Space For The Unbound curled up on our sofa, a steaming cup of tea nearby, winter rain gently tapping on the window. Like reading a good book, it felt right to play this slice of life adventure game in this way; we were immediately drawn in with its gorgeous pixel art depicting 1990s Indonesia and wowed with its narrative of anxiety, depression, and a strong dose of magical realism.
A Space For The Unbound puts you in the role of a high school student named Atma, who spends much of his time with his girlfriend Raya as they explore their village of Loka. It isn’t long before Raya reveals her supernatural powers to you, and it’s these powers, along with a mysterious notebook found by Atma, that leads you to a whole host of problems for you to solve.
You see, such a notebook allows Atma to jump into people’s minds to relieve their mental anguish. A chef who can’t decide which culinary art to pursue, a forgetful old man who can’t recall a fond memory of his deceased brother, a little boy with an unhealthy obsession with chocolate: the list goes on, with Atma helping them each in turn. to advance an overarching plot that touches on abuse, bullying, loss, and more.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)
We won’t spoil the story anymore because, as is typical of most adventure games, it’s the main reason to play. The characters quickly endeared themselves to us, and the mystery of Raya’s powers, strange dreams, and strange happenings in the city kept us hooked from the prologue to the poignant epilogue, despite some confusing errors in the English dialogue. , without ever falling too much into the melancholic. Quirky characters abound to lighten the mood as the game delves into heavier themes, and as each chapter concludes, the story becomes more wildly fantastical. A chilling soundtrack that we can’t wait to add to a lo-fi beat playlist is the perfect accompaniment to all the highs and lows.
Also cats. If you like cute pixelated cats, you can pet them all. And give them names, too.
The general loop of A Space For The Unbound is a family adventure game. You spend most of your time looking around town for specific items to give to the right people or make an event happen. For example, you might have to find the ingredients to bake a cake or a rope to throw over the school wall to get out and skip class. These scenarios often did not faze us; in fact, helpful characters like the talking cats hold your hand too much, giving you obvious clues as to where you should go, reducing a part of the game to walking from point A to point B and back.
A lot of it feels padded. A man asks Atma to help him fix his truck’s flat tire, which is inconveniently blocking the road during a particularly busy time, and a general store owner requires Atma to find and clean a dumpster before to give the oil he needs, but none of these requests relates to the current situation. It gets a bit boring to kill the beat when you just want to see what happens next, especially in the poignant final chapter of this rather lengthy adventure. It’s good that everything is so beautiful to see. The screenshots don’t do it justice, especially if you’re playing on an OLED.
Captured on Nintendo Switch (docked)
Fortunately, many puzzles take place in the minds of Loka’s residents. Atma, using her special notebook, can ‘space dive’ inside her head. These feature much more engaging logic puzzles that would sometimes stump us for a few minutes, along with a handful of delightful mini-games and some creative Phoenix Wright-esque interrogation sequences. Touchscreen support for jumping through dialogue is included, though not for movement or the myriad mini-games from what we could see.
With these varied elements, A Space For The Unbound kept us engrossed by introducing something new inside each mind we entered. Paired with a narrative that magically gripped us and kept us in suspense with one surprising story after another, we couldn’t put our Switch down until we saw the story of Atma and Raya, an impressive feat from this small development team.
Despite the runtime being filled with some meandering requests, A Space For The Unbound is a perfect little adventure title to curl up in on a rainy day. The myriad of puzzles, while never overtly challenging, change things up often enough to keep them from getting tedious. At the same time, we wholeheartedly recommend it for its bittersweet and bleak narrative alone. It never strays too far into melancholic territory, but it handles some heavy themes with grace. We do not leave saddened by the potentially depressing themes represented by the wonderful inhabitants of this beautiful snapshot of Indonesia. Rather, we came away genuinely touched and inspired.
Review: A Space For The Unbound: A Stunning And Beautifully Rendered Adventure Game