character promo art for A Space for the Unbound

A Space for the Unbound Review

Published: January 18, 2023 11:00 AM

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There are different kinds of gamers out there. Some love gaming for gameplay and others love it for the stories games can tell. A good game does either of those things well, but a great game can bring the two together and create something that feels wonderful to play while also telling a compelling story that you can’t ignore. That’s what A Space for the Unbound does with its intricate story, music, and characters. While it does have a few problems, the overall result is something that sets itself apart and keeps you thinking for a while afterward.

It’s important to note that A Space for the Unbound starts out with a trigger warning as the story deals with death, abuse, suicide, and depression. The themes are extremely heavy, and the nature of the game leads the player to be directly involved with them. It’s something players should take extremely seriously before diving in.

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The story follows Atma, a high school teen who’s looking to check out a bucket list with his girlfriend, Raya. However, things aren’t as simple as they seem, and Atma starts to notice that weird things are happening to the world around him and that Raya’s at the center of it. As reality warps, Atma works with other characters to try and save Raya from her mysterious powers. By the end, you’re working to help Raya overcome every past demon she’s ever faced in the real world, a terrifying journey that leaves you feeling like you conquered something bigger than any boss.

The Story in A Space for the Unbound is Stellar

Atma petting cats in A Space for the Unbound
There are cats all around town to pet and name

The story in A Space for the Unbound breaks boundaries with its intricacies. The majority of the time, I had no clue what was coming up next. And even when I did have an idea of what was going to happen in the story, they were never quite right. I was on the edge of my seat, being dragged along by a story that compelled me to keep going even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to learn more and potentially unground everything I thought I knew. The emotional rollercoaster was well worth the ride, and by the end I had ugly cried and came out with a bright, hopeful mindset.

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The way the story is presented is beyond genius. It’s woven so expertly with the gameplay that the game feels more like an experience than a slice-for-life adventure game. The main game generally involves exploring the town and school, finding things, and helping people along the way. There are minigames like fighting arcade-style and trying to keep a ball in the air for as many kicks as possible, but they don’t distract you from the story at all. The difficulty and length of time needed to complete the side tasks feel just right to keep you focused on the actual story.

A Space for the Unbound also gives you plenty to focus on while you’re walking around. The music fits every scene to a “t,” and the environment’s pixelated graphics are awe-inspiring. Everything combines to make a natural feeling experience where the player goes through the game the same way they would live life. 

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A Space for the Unbound isn't without flaws, though

Nermala on bridge at sunset in A Space for the Unbound
The pixel artwork is stunning throughout the entire game

With everything A Space for the Unbound does right, it’s not unusual to see a few issues pop up. There were parts of the story that felt inorganic to the characters that had been built up in my head. For example, a group of school bullies repeatedly calls Atma “mutt” in the early parts of the game. However, those same bullies make an appearance toward the end of the game and have entirely new insults despite always using “mutt” before that. This was more than likely noticeable because of how organic the story and characters are for the majority of the story, so it’s hard to hold this against the game.

While the puzzles don’t feel overwhelmingly difficult at any point in the game, there is a late-game puzzle that may be hard for American audiences. A code requires three dates to be inputted in the correct order. The passcode uses day-month for the numerals whereas most American audiences would use month-day. A Space for the Unbound prides itself on being a tale in rural Indonesia, so the decision for the code makes complete sense-it may just throw off Americans who don’t realize other countries use a different dating system.

Don't Miss A Space for the Unbound If You Can

Atma and Raya walking in A Space for the Unbound
Let A Space for the Unbound support you at the end like Atma supports Raya

Despite the few flaws A Space for the Unbound has, the game interacts too well with both players and itself to be anything less than great. The story is one you can’t look away from, even when you feel it crumbling down. Most people will be able to relate or sympathize with the story, and the game knows it. The last stretch of the game may be hard for some to get to, but the ending gives hope to those who need it. It may be one of the most impactful story games to come from 2023, and the 10-15 hour game time is plenty worth it. 


TechRaptor reviewed A Space for the Unbound on PC with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.

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Review Summary

Review Summary

8.0
A Space for the Unbound is a heartwarming but dark tale about Atma and Raya, and it's one that will stick with you. The beautiful scenes, stellar score, and unique gameplay far outweigh the few negatives the game has.

Pros

  • Amazing world, music, and art
  • Touching story
  • Natural progression and gameplay

Cons

  • A few confusing moments
  • Some frustrating puzzles
Brittany Alva profile picture
Author: | Staff Writer
Brittany's been gaming since she could walk -- literally. A doctor told her parents to get her a handled console to improve her hand-eye coordination because she was so clumsy. Her family also loved… Read More