Occasionally, a game comes along and hits you right in the kisser! It could be its touching characters, cute visuals, or magical plot. Whatever the reason, it’ll resonate with you while touching your soul. A Space for the Unbound is one such title that’ll confuse, amuse, and entertain you throughout. Thankfully, it combines each of the aforementioned ingredients to create a mesmerising experience.
Developed by Mojiken Studio/Toge Productions and published by Chorus Worldwide Games, this is a slice-of-life adventure title. What’s more, there are distinct visual novel elements, a smattering of puzzles to overcome and collectables to find. However, its linear approach and slow gameplay may be too restrictive for some players. Consequently, it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
A Space for the Unbound is a surreal tale of love.
I’m not ashamed to admit that A Space for the Unbound confused the hell out of me. Much of its story is surreal, disturbing, and tough to follow. However, once you get to grips with it, you fall in love with the protagonists, their obsession with cats, and the crazy world in which they exist. Moreover, the excellent writing and the way it tackles taboo subjects have to be applauded. Accordingly, the developers have done an incredible job of conveying their touching and harrowing subject matter.
You control two high school sweethearts, Atma and Raya. The pair are nearing the end of their school years, and decide their futures are intrinsically linked. As such, they write a bucket list of tasks they wish to complete. Subsequently, this list forms the backbone of each chapter, while making up many of the minor tasks you undertake. However, while the pair complete their adventure, they encounter strange beings and cats, while discovering that they have special powers. By investigating secret locations, the duo hope to uncover the truth and save their beloved town.
Basic core mechanics.
It’s clear that A Space for the Unbound impressed me. Yet, its core mechanics were too stripped-back. As such, the game feels mostly voyeuristic. This approach works well with the dreamlike nature of the story, but with many chapters to complete, it was too hands-off for my liking. Thankfully, the rudimentary puzzles and straightforward story progression were punctuated by fun mini-games, interesting cutscenes, and collectables to find.
Disappointingly, though, even these moments failed to up the tempo or difficulty. Instead, A Space for the Unbound is happy to plateau and stay in its safe space. Now, this isn’t a complaint as I adore this title. Nevertheless, I’d have enjoyed the occasional curveball to mix things up. Unfortunately, this never occurred, and you follow a set routine of fetch quests, stroking cats, and talking to the locals.
“Spacediving” and taboo subjects.
Where this game excels is the tackling of taboo subjects and its surreal realm known as “Spacediving”. The developers have incorporated scenes surrounding bullying, social conformity, and anxiety. These dark moments are occasionally tough to swallow. Yet, they are delivered in a tactful and exquisite way. Furthermore, the resolution to each problem enhances the story while increasing your empathy for each of the protagonists.
The “Spacediving” on the other hand was weird as hell. Here, the lead characters use a magic red book to read people’s thoughts. However, the words don’t appear on the screen. No, instead, you play out a bizarre scene that represents each emotion. This borderline contemporary idea allowed you to explore each uncomfortable moment without the demands for realism. This was phenomenal as it drove the story forward without bulking it down with too much emotional baggage.
A Space for the Unbound: a juxtaposition of light and dark.
Combining surrealism with emotive subjects can be tough. However, the juxtaposition between light and dark creates a balanced experience. Furthermore, there was a risk of going too far, or not far enough. Thankfully, the blend of dreamy images, cutscenes, and “ordinary” action ensures that it’s bearable. What’s more, the fascinating backdrops are great to look at, and the pixelated graphics are era-specific.
The excellent graphics are complemented by the incredible audio. The blend of upbeat music, harrowing songs, and memorable sound effects was great. Yet, I despised the constant clicking that accompanied the text. The faux-keyboard noises drove me insane! Subsequently, it was distracting and undermined much of the dialogue.
Other than the occasional mini-game or stealth moment, you don’t have to worry about the controls. Instead, you can focus on the action, as the controls are simple to understand. Additionally, when accuracy is required, the inputs are responsive and well-considered.
One area that is lacking is replay value and longevity. With a linear approach that rarely diverges, you are unlikely to miss a thing. However, there are some collectables and secret achievements if you are that way inclined.
A Space for the Unbound is beautiful.
Though there are some shortcomings, A Space for the Unbound is touching and beautiful. I adored the tweak of nostalgia, the rounded characters, and the excellent narration. Furthermore, the magical twist and surreal moments are wonderful. On top of this, I loved how the taboo subjects are handled and the presentation. Accordingly, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you decipher what is real and what is not? Explore many hidden locations as you discover many secrets about yourself and your surroundings.