Two high school sweethearts, Atma and Raya, embark on a journey of self discovery as their high school years begin to draw to a close. However, not everything is as it seems, as reality itself begins to unweave and what is true is called into question. Set within a small, yet bustling town of rural Indonesia, the pair must overcome a strange supernatural force that beckons the end of the world.
Much of your time centers around completing various tasks for people around town, or working towards crossing things off from Atma and Raya’s shared bucket list. These can involve collecting bottle caps hidden throughout the environment, finding ingredients for a cake or petting and naming every single cat you come across. The townsfolk and interconnected nature of it all is where I found the game to be overflowing with charm. It really felt as if everyone knew each other, and reminded me of that nostalgic small town feeling. This was a great way to ensure the town felt lived in, and that every location had something to contribute towards the broad narrative, even if not tied directly to pushing the main objective forward.
It would be remiss not to mention that many of these tasks do end up being fetch quests, but I never felt like they became overly tedious because of how interesting the world was to explore. I didn’t mind walking back to an area I previously visited because it gave me an opportunity to talk to more people, take in the sights, and of course, pet more animals. And if you haven’t been able to tell already, this world is visually stunning. The amount of color and detail expressed through the pixel art style is simply breathtaking. There are also some light combat sequences, typically involving bullies or similar small fry that require some old-school directional inputs harkening back to arcade-stick fighters. These sections are typically quick and don’t overstay their welcome, which I appreciated.
The story’s stakes ramp up after Raya reveals to Atma that she has a supernatural ability that allows her to manipulate reality in various ways. While used for small things at first, over time her power usage begins to spiral a bit out of hand as repressed issues rise to the surface. This was intriguing, as it let me experience how someone might shape the world to their perception, and how those around them would influence their hand. These moments provided an interesting departure from the calm nature of the setting in favor of a more serious look into depression, and set up some story beats that are best to be experienced without spoilers.
While Atma may not have powers on the same level as Raya, he is able to use magical relics such as the Red Book to activate an ability called Space Dive, which allows him to enter people’s minds. It’s here where Atma can view someone’s innermost thoughts, and walk around in their perception of the world. These dreamscapes are unique to each person and serve to provide more insight into the troubles of the townsfolk. I got excited every time I saw the prompt to enter Space Dive, because I knew a new and interesting landscape would await me. These areas usually have small puzzles to solve as well, which provide a novel distraction from the exploration.
Ultimately, A Space For The Unbound is a tale of overcoming anxiety, trauma and depression through discovering meaning within your own life. It’s finding happiness in the soft fur of a cat, a quiet moment alone with the night sky, or even playing your favorite game. It shrugs off get-well card platitudes in favor of finding healthy coping mechanisms, and explores not only what depression feels like, but what the world appears to be to someone who is suffering. Despite the gameplay loop appearing to be simple, it never felt that way because of how compelling the world and its people were to interact with. All of this culminated into a nostalgic adolescent story of love that finds harmony in the storm of a supernatural force that had me hooked all the way to the end.
A Space For The Unbound
A Space For The Unbound is an unforgettable gem that finds a magnificent nexus point between a relaxing slice-of-life adventure and a supernatural exploration of mental anguish. It explores trauma made manifest within dreamscapes that bend time and space while engrossing players in a captivating rural Indonesian setting that begs to be explored.
- Gorgeously detailed pixel art style
- Beautiful coming of age narrative
- Meaningful exploration of depression
- Mildly repetitive fetch quests