Indie studio Mojiken’s A Space for the Unbound: mystical, pixel-y, evocative, dreamlike, Indonesian setting, layered story, healing inner child, fairytale magic, calming sunset.
Indie studio Mojiken’s supernatural slice-of-life A Space for the Unbound is set in a pixel-y, 1990’s Indonesia, giving players an attractive, dry place to escape to. The game follows teenagers Atma and his inscrutable girlfriend Raya, who can manipulate reality at the cost of her health. However, its release was subject to real life issues when Mojiken and Coffee Talk developers Toge Productions accused publisher PQube of exploiting their “position and heritage as developers from Indonesia to obtain a diversity fund”. This led to the game being delayed for five months and the end result feeling unrepentantly Indonesian.
The game is set in a small, warm town with not much happening other than the protagonists’ school life, a low-traffic internet cafe, and clusters of bitter melon growing off of short white fences. It also features collectable bottle caps from Indonesian drinks like Rhino Soda and anti-smoking dialogue to speak to Indonesia’s ongoing tobacco addiction. Gameplay consists of beating up school bullies through arcade-inspired arrow key combat and quick-time events, and performing “spacedives”, a mystical method of diving “into people’s hearts and [ridding] them of their inner turmoil”.
As Atma, players find useful junk in an abandoned patch of swampland to help them complete objectives like baking a black forest cake for Raya. The game progresses slowly and never really explains its culture to players, instead embodying it. It also features dreamlike elements such as a talking cat, a bully that transforms into a “weredog”, and Raya manifesting money in Atma’s pocket.
The game is ten-ish hours long and has a plot that could benefit from some more clarity. Atma has visions when he falls asleep that help make sense of Raya’s wild powers, but they’re brief and usually contradicted or brushed aside by Raya immediately when he wakes. Despite this, A Space for the Unbound still looks and feels like a calming sunset for our dark January, like a song with cryptic lyrics that still has something to gain.