A Space for the Unbound Review - Screenshot 1 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Docked)

We began our time with Mojiken Studio’s A Space For The Unbound curled up on our sofa, cup of steaming tea close by, with winter rain softly rapping against the window. Much like reading a good book, it felt right to play this slice-of-life adventure game this way; it pulled us in immediately in with its gorgeous pixel art depicting 1990s Indonesia and entranced us with its narrative of anxiety, depression, and hefty dose of magic realism.

A Space For The Unbound puts you in the role of a high school student named Atma, spending much of his time with his girlfriend Raya as they explore their vividly realised town of Loka. It isn’t long before Raya reveals her supernatural powers to you, and it's these powers, along with a mysterious notebook that Atma finds, that lead to quite a lot of problems for you to solve.

You see, said notebook allows Atma to hop into people’s minds to alleviate their mental anguish. A chef that can’t decide which culinary art to pursue, a forgetful old man that can’t remember a fond memory of his deceased brother, a young child with an unhealthy chocolate obsession – the list goes on, with Atma helping them each in turn in order to advance an overarching plot that touches on abuse, bullying, loss, and more.

A Space for the Unbound Review - Screenshot 2 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

We won’t spoil any more of the story 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, of strange dreams and stranger occurrences around town, kept us hooked from prologue to heartwarming epilogue, despite some confusing dialogue errors in English, never veering too deeply into the melancholic. Quirky characters abound to lighten the mood when the game delves into heavier topics, and as each chapter concludes, the story becomes more wildly fantastical. A chill soundtrack that we can’t wait to add to a low-fi beats playlist makes for a perfect accompaniment to all the highs and lows.

Also cats. If you like cute pixel cats, you can pet them all. And give them names, too.

A Space For The Unbound's general loop is familiar adventure game fare. You spend most of your time looking for specific items around town to give to the right people or make an event happen. You might, for example, have to find the ingredients to bake a cake or a rope to throw over the school’s wall to climb out and skip class. These scenarios didn't often stump us; in fact, helpful characters – like talking cats – hold your hand a little too much, giving you obvious hints as to where you need to go, boiling a chunk of the game down to walking from point A to point B and back again.

A lot of this feels padded out. A man asks Atma to help him repair the popped tire of his truck, which, inconveniently, is blocking the way during a particularly intense moment, and a general store owner requires Atma to find, and clean out, a container before he’ll give him the oil he requires, but neither of these requests relate to the actual situation at hand. It gets a little tiresome, killing the pace when you just want to see what happens next, especially in the poignant final chapter of this quite lengthy adventure. It’s a good thing it’s all so pretty to look at. Screenshots don't do it justice, especially if you're playing on an OLED.

A Space for the Unbound Review - Screenshot 3 of 3
Captured on Nintendo Switch (Handheld/Undocked)

Fortunately, a lot of puzzles take place in the minds of Loka's residents. Atma, using his special notebook, can ‘spacedive’ inside their heads. These feature much more engaging logic puzzles that sometimes stumped us for a few minutes, along with a handful of delightful minigames and some creative Phoenix Wright-esque cross-examination sequences. Touchscreen support is included for skipping through dialogue, though not for movement or the myriad minigames from what we could tell.

With these varied elements, A Space For The Unbound kept us engrossed by introducing something new inside every mind we entered. Along with a narrative that grabbed us with magic and kept us in suspense with one surprising story beat after another, we couldn’t put down our Switch until we saw Atma and Raya’s tale through, an impressive feat from this small development team.

Conclusion

Despite the runtime being padded out by some meandering requests, A Space For The Unbound is a perfect little adventure title to curl up with on a rainy day. The myriad puzzles, while never overtly challenging, switch things up often enough to keep from growing tedious. At the same time, we wholeheartedly recommend it for its bittersweet, sombre narrative alone. It never veers too far into melancholic territory yet handles some heavy topics with grace. We didn’t come away gloomy from the potentially depressing themes depicted via the wonderful inhabitants of this beautifully rendered snapshot of Indonesia. Rather, we came away genuinely touched and inspired.