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A Space For the Unbound review: A love story with a twist

(Switch/PS/Xb/PC) **** Age: 15+



We all come a little unmoored at times. Few people go through life without suffering either a trial or a tribulation. With the help of others, though, we can find our anchor and return to solid ground with our mind in a better place.

A Space For The Unbound explores this universal human experience through the prism of a pixel-art point’n’click adventure, of all things. You probably wouldn’t realise from the opening hour or two that this quirky 2D side-scrolling yarn about two teenage lovers was going to dive so deeply into the dark.

In fairness, the signs are there from the start in the tale of Atma and Raya. Even though Space For The Unbound presents as a colourful little fetch-quest romp as the young couple play hooky from school, flashes of the story’s hidden gravity slip by. The pair discover they both possess supernatural powers of sorts, with Atma able to “jump” into people’s minds to help solve their problems Psychonauts-style and Raya capable of twisting reality. Early on, there appears to be a shocking demise that comes out of nowhere. But dreams and the real world intertwine as Atma and Raya move between dimensions.

Feeding the freshness of this story arc is the setting of 1990s Indonesia, a nod to the home town of the small studio based in Surabaya that created the game. Everything from the architecture to the language to the music sets it a little apart from the usual.

Much of the gameplay focuses on simple puzzles but the developers are unafraid to get a little experimental with nifty riffs on gaming talismans such as Street Fighter and the courtroom drama of Ace Attorney. In truth, some of the fetch-quest stuff gets a little dull but the lively script rarely lets the interest wander.

Later in the game, Space For The Unbound goes for the jugular with some desperately sad revelations and the apparently imminent end of the world. That the small studio pulls off this delicate balancing act mixing humour with pathos is testament to its uncommon skill.

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