Pixel Perfect Paradise
During the summer of 2019, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Bali, Indonesia, for the first time. A world-renown tourist location, Bali recently jumped high up on my bucket list because I learned the gorgeous scenery and rich culture heavily inspired my lifetime favorite game, Final Fantasy X. And while I definitely feel like I traveled to a real-life Spira, I came away from the experience absolutely enriched learning about Bali, Indonesia, the different languages, cultures, and religions therein, and, of course, the people, well-known for being the friendliest in the world.
So when I saw A Space For The Unbound, a “slice-of-life adventure game with beautiful pixelart set in the late 90s rural Indonesia“, advertised in an indie promo group on Facebook, I had to play it. Obviously.
Currently in development by Mojiken Studio (DIVINATION, She and The Light Bearer) with publishing duties being handled by Toge Productions (Coffee Talk, Infectonator 3: Apocalypse), A Space For The Unbound is a pixel perfect masterpiece dedicated to the simple things in life that, maybe, aren’t so simple after all.
The story opens up on a young girl regaling an older boy the sad tales of a princess and her cat. Tearing up, he praises her artistic ability and encourages her creativity. Just as she begins to explain the epilogue, however, she loses her train of thought. They decide the magic red book will help her overcome her writer’s block, so they recover it from a secret stash and use it to “Space Dive” into the deepest recesses of her heart.
Of course, doing this means her friend must traipse through her deepest fears as well, which include failure and ridicule. Nevertheless, he persists, finding what she wanted to write in her heart of hearts and coming back to reality with the results. Energized, she excitedly chatters about the epilogue, but needs her magic wand to continue the story. Unfortunately, it’s back and home, and if her father finds out she’s skipped school, he’ll be very angry with her. So it’s up to her helpful friend to do the honors of retrieving the wand.
At this juncture, A Space for the Unbound opens up into a true point-and-click adventure game where you’ll need to find a way into your friend’s room and back with the magic wand. What you’ll find when you return, well… I won’t spoil the surprise, considering it’s a free prologue and can be completed within an hour.
A Space for the Unbound oozes personality and charm in spades. On the one hand, the pixel art is undeniably gorgeous; I’m reminded of a specific pixel artist, 1041uuu, who showed slice-of-life moments in Japan; the difference here being, of course, the setting in rural Indonesia. There’s a lot of fleshed out art with plenty of dimension while still being simple and aesthetically pleasing. On the other hand, the time and place absolutely shines through; having been there myself, I felt transported back to Indonesia — the lush scenery, the unique homes, and the animals lazing about took me right back to Bali and all its beauty (and, yes, you can most definitely pet the cats).
I think it’s the latter that excites me the most about A Space for the Unbound; in the indie game sphere, there’s ample room for all viewpoints and backgrounds, and one that is so whole-heartedly retro-Indonesian is such a nice, fresh experience. In fact, aside from Final Fantasy X, I’m drawing a blank on games that really showcase the amazing beauty the land of 17,508 islands has to offer. I’m legitimately hyped to be able to play a game in such a stunning setting — truly, A Space for the Unbound is one of a kind.
I’m really, really thrilled that an unabashedly Indonesian game is hitting Steam in the near future — and it helps that it’s so far been a great one. The story seemed so simple at first, but then took a dark and unexpected turn (only to twist yet again). Coupled with the art, music, and fantastic writing, it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of high hopes riding on this one. Be sure to check out A Space for the Unbound for yourself, and consider adding the full game to your Steam wishlist.