Video games built in pixel graphics for a purely nostalgic vibe are starting to go stale. But when game makers choose this block style to tell an otherworldly, surreal, and even metaphysical story, something special still comes out of it. Like the new indie hit “A Space for the Unbound”.
Atma is a senior student, sometime in the 1990s, at a secondary school in rural Indonesia. The future beckons. Or rather: This future still looms over him like a monstrous colossus, because he hasn’t figured out a way yet and wants to take advantage of his last weeks within this protective structure. For example by suggesting going to the cinema with his girlfriend Raya. As they travel through their provincial town, more and more stray cats appear on the streets. Doomsday messages are whispered about a cosmic catastrophe that threatens all life on earth. And then things happen in “A Space for the Unbound” that I prefer to let the player discover for themselves. Not only because I want to protect you from spoilers, but above all because they are difficult to put into words.
A Space for the Unbound is – again – a pixel graphics game. From afar they all look the same, of course, but there are worlds between, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge and Norco. The first one was a great game, of course, but it fits into a genre – that of the retro inspiredGames – which is starting to wear out a bit: see the recently released Vengeful Guardian: Moonrider, among others. But the second way, which “A Space for the Unbound” belongs to, remains interesting: the pixel graphics serve to create a visual and thematic universe that isn’t one cute or retro, but aims for an alienating, amazing, surreal effect.
First to the purely visual aspect: ‘A Space for the Unbound’ knows how to bring its sets to the screen in great detail. You can almost taste the dust of an Asian provincial town on your tongue, and the characters that populate the streets are also lively animated. But the small feat of the creators of this game lies even more in how they use the mechanics of the classic Sierra or LucasArts adventure games of yesteryear to crack open an underlying metaphysical layer.
To sympathize in the truest sense of the word
This brings us to the indescribable element of ‘A Space for the Unbound’: the thing that the signer prefers to write as little as possible about and that is best for you to discover for yourself in gameplay. Both members of the main couple in the game have special powers: she can change space and time, he can literally go into the psyche of others. And those unique abilities make events go to strange places pretty quickly (at least after an hour or two in a 12-15 hour gameplay).
The fact that the same simple game mechanics continue to work in multiple realities makes A Space for the Unbound a well thought out topper. The fact that the dialogues sometimes inspire second-hand embarrassment and the adventure gameplay, both on planet Earth and in other realities, revolves a little too much around completing a shopping list, prevents “A Space for the Unbound” from in the same territory as top hits à la ‘Norco’, but for the price and playing time you get a touching, surreal impression come of ageenjoyed history.
Source : HLN