In the packed year that has been 2023, there has been a lot of games that got away from me during their launch just due to the amount of great games coming out this year. Honestly, there’s an argument that 2023 might be the greatest year for video games of all time. So a fair amount of indie enthusiasts were telling me to play A Space for the Unbound. Some were even telling me that I’d appreciate it because I love narrative-heavy games. Always a sucker for hype I decided to see what all the talk was about. So how is A Space for the Unbound?
Let’s dive into it.
A Space for the Unbound was made Mojiken Studio and it was released on January 19th, 2023. It’s available for PC, Xbox Series S/X, Switch, Ps4, and Ps5. I played on Xbox Series S/X and I was provided a review code.
You play as Atma, a young man who has the ability to “space dive” into the hearts and minds of those around him. By using this power he can see their turmoil and then fix their problems. It’s a power and a premise that Persona and Psychonaunts fans will find familiar, but done in a way that feels unique and fresh.
The characters in the game are extremely well written and display real issues that make them feel like real relatable people. For example, the game deftly handles issues such as the weight of anxiety, domestic abuse, bullying, and depression.
The gameplay loop consists of Atma walking around gathering items around the real world and in people’s minds to help them and advance the overarching plot. The gameplay centers around you finding items and using them in the right story moments. Honestly, this isn’t a gameplay-heavy game. You are mostly doing small actions to advance the amazing story that is being told.
If you are a gamer that is put off by shallow gameplay or prefers games that offer meaty gameplay then A Space for the Unbound probably won’t be for you. Think of this almost like a sidescrolling pixel version of a Tell Tale type of game and you mostly have an idea of the gameplay style.
The artstyle in this game is gorgeous. It has this detailed pixel artstyle with bright pops of color. I enjoyed how A Space for the Unbound showcases a pixel artstyle that isn’t like anything else I’ve played this year. The shops and environments in the game’s Indonesian town are extremely detailed and unique.
The soundtrack and the sound design of the game are next level. The was one instance where I was walking in the rain and you could hear the sounds of my wet footsteps hitting the pavement. Then as I started to run the game accurately reflected the sounds of running in the rain. The soundtrack is fantastic. It features Lofi music mixed in with light pop instruments. The Lofi music is reminiscent of the music in Coffee Talk Episode 2 which has one of if not the best video game soundtrack of 2023.
While the narrative stays mostly engaging throughout its 13-ish hour campaign, I will say that it does start to drag on a smidgen toward the end. While the ending is solid and makes the journey worthwhile, it does feel like the third act leading to it could have been shortened a bit.
One aspect that might turn off some gamers as well is that this game is ultimately full of fetch quests. While most can be completed quickly, the number of them will probably grade on some people’s nerves. Those are the only flaws that I found with the space for the Unbound. I found that this a really well polished game with a narrative that really, really resonates with you.
Overall/Should You play A Space for the Unbound:
If you are looking for a coming-of-age narrative game with a memorable plot and characters then you should check out A Space for the Unbound. Is this game for everyone? No, the gameplay might be a bit too slow-paced for some gamers, and those that don’t like fetch quests might sour on this experience. That said if you are looking for a narrative-heavy cozy game or if you are a fan of the Psychonaunts or Persona then you should check out A Space for the Unbound. It is indeed a strong contender for the indie game of the year.
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