A Space for the Unbound puts the player in the shoes of a young man named Atma. In the prologue, you see Atma helping a little girl named Nirmala write a tale about a star princess who can grant wishes. However, things quickly shift in the earlier hours with the perspective shifting to the boy at school trying to enjoy his high school days with his girlfriend Raya.
A couple of lovers, Atma and Raya, are in the final throes of high school and have to go through the uncertainties of which career to follow when strange events start to happen to signal the possibility of the end of the world. Possessing supernatural powers, Raya with Atma must explore the city to find out what is happening and put an end to it. That’s the premise of A Space for the Unbound, a slice-of-life adventure developed by Mojiken Studio.
A Space for the Unbound is a time capsule from the 1990s
Although it seems to be a game with a simple story, A Space for the Unbound brings as its main themes anxiety, depression, and suicide wish. Delicate subjects, but a plot wrapped in mysteries, will help us to understand how a person suffering from such diseases sees the world and how her mind works. I believe this is one of the games with the best visual representation of what is depression and how it can affect the life of someone. I find it touching the way the developers are presenting the symptoms and signs, making you reflect on the attitudes you have toward others and how your actions can reflect on others, but also helping to open your eyes and identify possible signs that a person is not well.
As already mentioned, Atma and Raya are far from ordinary young people. Atma possesses the power of a magical book and can space dive into the psyche of others — an ability to get inside people’s hearts and see their desires. While Raya has a much more complex power, comparable to being able to bend space/time to shape the world to her will. The kicker is that while Raya has a pretty overpowered and cool ability, every time she uses it, the rest of the town is affected by it and it begins to slowly unravel everything around the teens. Did I mention the giant crack in the sky that
The gameplay of A Space of the Unbound is pretty simple consisting of exploring the city and talking to the inhabitants through interactions. During the exploration, you’ll collect items ranging from bottle caps to gum figurines, and pet animals and even fulfill some optional objectives. In certain situations, Atma will be able to use his power to help the inhabitants while also finding out more about their lives. At other times, the game will present small minigames that consist of pressing the buttons in the sequence that appears on the screen or at the right time. Besides them, there are dozens of puzzles to solve and these are what I found to be the best bits of the experience. The puzzles, for the most part, are simple and intuitive, but there are some that end up being a little more challenging.
Stuck On You
A Space for the Unbound does a pretty good job of being a time capsule into the 1990s. The atmosphere is very inviting even reminiscent of movies like Your Name and Weathering with You. Of course, it helps that the developers confirmed A Space for the Unbound is heavily inspired by the work of Makoto Shinkai. This is bolstered by a stellar soundtrack. Composed by Masdito “Ittou” Bachtiar, the music of A Space for the Unbound carries a lot of the emotions the situation conveys.
The more time I spent exploring this small Indonesian town, the more I wanted to travel across the world and see it for myself. So many of the beautifully rendered places including the cafes, arcades, schools, and even ramen shops felt inviting. The colours splashing across the screen helped a bit, too I’d wager given everything felt like a vivid dream.
After the events that led to the delay of A Space For the Unbound last year, I’m glad Mojiken Studio and Toge Productions were able to see their game launch. It’s the first must-play of 2023 and it has left me feeling moved by the story and the characters. Paired with some incredible visuals, I felt at home, yearning for a place I’d never visited but someplace I’d like to be one day.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: Nintendo Switch
A story filled with special moments, a fleshed out cast of characters