22 June 2024

What at first glance starts out as a touching title that smells like the 90’s, evolves into a story with dark contours mixed with supernatural powers, which addresses the lives of two teenagers with a strong connection, in a city located in Indonesia.

A Space for the Unbound produced by Mojiken studios, suddenly appeared on my Twitter timeline and I immediately wanted to understand what it was about. Set on a screen full of pixels, surrounded by a touching soundtrack and small notes in cutscene with anime contours, it tells the story of a boy, named Atma, who like most teenagers, although without major concerns about the subject, is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his future after finishing high school. Raya, his girlfriend, on the other hand, is quite methodical and decides to make a bucket list of activities to do with him. On that list are activities like going to the movies, having a party and inviting all of their friends, among others, which serve as a backdrop for the timeline of the denouement full of mishaps of this adventure.

Suddenly Atma finds himself wrapped in a mist that mixes dream with reality and discovers that he has a mysterious supernatural power. With the help of a red book he manages to delve into the minds of people disturbed by traumas in order to help them overcome that less positive moment. This “Spacedive” ability will be one of the most defining mechanics throughout this title. Raya also has powers, albeit quite different. Raya can change reality, transport herself to other places or, for example, levitate objects and even people.

All of this sounds very interesting, until it gets to the point where the powers used by Raya begin to affect not only her, but the entire city. The inhabitants begin to behave strangely, certain locations seem to have some kind of glitch alternating between parallel realities and even a rift begins to open in the sky of this peculiar location. Is this real life or just a dream? Atma will be the crucial point in answering all these questions, while trying to keep everything around from collapsing.

While the story becomes interesting as time goes by, its gameplay begins to gain somewhat repetitive contours between activities. In the end, the gameplay involves a lot of exploration, going through elements of a visual novel and small moments where it is necessary to click on the right keys at the right times. The main “problem” here is the fact that there are quite a few moments of exploration separated between running from one side of the city to the other where the main objective is the search for the necessary elements to overcome the presented problems. While on paper this is an interesting idea, it is rather tedious to go from screen to screen as an errand boy. There are positive moments during this rush, characters to meet, cats to pet and name, bottle caps to collect, among others, but the feeling of boredom is still very present, especially in Chapter 3 which is by far the slowest in its development.

It never becomes a difficult game, there is no learning path or anything like that. Except for small sections that can become somewhat frustrating largely because of the collision area that the character presents in moments of finger dexterity, such as when there are objects falling from the sky. The controls are super responsive, even when it takes a double click to get Atma to start its fastest march.

Being a linear story, it is unlikely that you will skim this adventure a second time. It is still possible to miss some secondary objectives. As previously mentioned there is a list of activities with some secondary activities. That said, and for hardcore players, there are also secrets and achievements that are harder to unlock.

A Space for the Unbound presents a very interesting teen drama story that somehow manages to warm even the coldest of hearts. The attention to detail of Culture Pop, the construction of an interesting city with engaging characters make this title a winning bet for the kick-off in this year’s Indie games calendar.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game for PC acquired by the self]