A Space for the Unbound harkens back to 90s adventure games. It reminds me of the King’s Quest games; some problem-solving, some fetch quests, and beautiful, pixelated scenes. For those who yearn for those games, A Space for the Unbound will fill that void. Newcomers to adventure games will find A Space for the Unbound a perfect entry into this genre.
A Space for the Unbound does a fantastic job of walking the player through a tutorial of the basic mechanics without making it feel like a different experience. The first twenty minutes will introduce you to the protagonist, Atma, as he discovers how to use the “spacedive” technique, a feature used throughout the game. You first use the method on your friend, Nirmala, who has writer’s block, and help them through their struggles to dig deep into what’s truly ailing them. The story that your friend is writing also serves as a foreshadowing approach to the rest of the game.
Without giving away too much of the story, Atma finds himself split between two worlds; one that appears to be a dream and the other in reality. After the opening scene, Atma finds himself asleep in class, and upon waking up, we meet his girlfriend, Raya. At first, Atma seems out of sorts, not sure what is real or a dream, but he quickly attunes himself to his surroundings, leaving us with the lingering notion that something else is going on here.
But Atma isn’t the only one with powers; Raya also has abilities. She can bend reality, causing items to appear, making people freeze in their tracks, or creating worlds. And because of this, things start to happen. Cats begin to talk. And the world seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction. The mystery of Atma and Raya’s powers keeps you going, digging deeper into the story, making you guess what’s actually going on.
Behind all the mystery is a coming-of-age story. This is the final year of high school for Raya and Atma, each seemingly on their own, diverging path. Together, they make a bucket list of things that they want to accomplish before the year’s end. This, in part acts as your task list; as you complete parts of your fetch quest, you soon realize that you are also crossing off items on your bucket list. Raya and Atma are charming characters whose personalities pull you into the story, even beyond their powers. You can’t help but cheer them on, knowing there’s something awry.
Much of the gameplay is problem-solving or fetch quests. For example, you may be looking for ingredients to make a cake for Raya, and in the process, you’ll need to complete puzzles and solve people’s problems by doing spacedives into their psyche. This follows the formula of adventure games from the 90s. In addition to the puzzles, there are a few quick-time events. They aren’t difficult but act as a way to break up the fetch quests. I particularly liked how Atma learned to fight; you learn from a “video game sensei” how to do certain moves. When you get into a fight with some school bullies, you’ll need to complete some quick time events requiring you to hit left, right, up, and down in a certain order to finish the move. This feels like an homage to games like Street Fighter.
Also true to the adventure genre is the art style. It’s a pixelated masterpiece. The art feels like an anime with the presentation, and I was blown away by the amount of detail that went into each scene. And on top of all this is a beautifully created soundtrack that fleshes out the experience but doesn’t feel too overpowering.
Final Grade: A
A Space for the Unbound is a perfect example of a well-told story set in an adventure-style game. A few games have tried to revive this classic genre, but they have yet to do it as well as A Space for the Unbound. Whether you're new to the genre or a veteran, you’ll find plenty to love in this beautifully created game.
Review code provided by Stride PR