ChrisX ‘reviews’ : A Space for the Unbound

Hello, this is ChrisX speaking, and…

First off, I apologize. I couldn’t get that list of men in time. But in exchange…

Today, I’m going to do something a bit different. It’s usually not my style to review a game but I think this could be an interesting start of something. I think it’s more natural that in a review I would give a rating, but I think that it may attract less than pleasant responses (either I rate too low or I rate too high) regardless of what I say, so I think I’d rather not use it. Instead, I think I will just give my overall conclusion and whether I would recommend the game or not. Take it as you will.

That being said… yeah, us Indonesian gamers in the 90’s had it rough. We had to depend on piracy to get by the 32 bit era. But because of that, we had very sweet memories for games that aren’t too mainstream. And we had a lot of loyalty to sprite-based games. Games with high quality and realistic graphics have their place in the industry, and so are sprite-based games, even today. There is an artistic feel about it and it’s best to not be used as a measurement on who’s more mature based on what product you consume.

Anyway, back then, an Indonesian company that produced video games would be too out of stretch. But with the advent of technology and Indonesian students studying video game development, an actual college friend of mine eventually gathered some of his friends to eventually form up a game development company known as Toge Productions.

(No, I’m not kidding. The CEO of Toge Productions is actually a college friend of mine. I don’t think we keep in touch, but I still remember him. I think he still remembers me too if I talk to him in social media… but we’re not here to talk about old college times)

Anyway, being someone who’s mostly minding my own business rather than ‘show support’ as a manifestation of pride and principles… I mostly didn’t quite bother with Toge Productions games. I mean, for the most part, they didn’t produce the games of the genre I’m interested in. Fighting, MOBA, RPG, Turn based Strategy, Action, Visual Novels… (Or maybe I just didn’t dig hard enough) But that changes in 2023.

Toge Productions announced a game known as A Space For The Unbound.

Once again, it’s a game in a genre that’s not quite my cup of tea: Adventure. Maybe when you hear that genre, the thing that comes to your mind would be like the King’s Quest series. However, the preview screenshots instead show a scenery a bit too familiar to me: It takes place in Indonesia in the 90’s! From my hearsays, there has been very positive feedback about it. It’s great, heart-touching and generally a positive experience.

Now, usually, Indonesians are either down-putting their own products, or if they actually play the game, a lot possess the sentiment of being overproud, like, “WOY, INDONESIAN PRODUCT, WOY!” But… well, I end up swearing that I will play the game but will judge it fairly without any sentiments that this is something made by Indonesians. And I have come to think that I will review this game for a change of pace. Therefore…

And before I continue, let me just say that… this ‘review’ will contain spoilers. I’ve finished the game, and I’d also like to write down my own feelings about the whole game without having to restrain myself. So, for those who want to experience the game on their own, do not advance further, finish the game, and maybe come back when you have done that. If you’re ready, go ahead and click the Read More link.

All right, so you have finished the game? Let’s continue then… to the beginning of the game.

Story & Opinion about Gameplay

From this screen, you may be thinking that it’s a story of a schoolboy and his sidekick.
Boy, things get more complicated after this.

So the protagonist is a high school boy named Atma. From his looks, I am already familiar with how he’s supposed to be in high school with his white shirt and dark cyan long pants. It’s a standard uniform for high schoolers back then… I know, because I’ve been there, wearing those things…

After the prologue sequence where you’re given a decent enough basic tutorial for how to proceed as well as some simple puzzles… The main draw of this game is that you have the ability to ‘Space Dive’. In other words, you enter the mind of someone, solve puzzles there and affect how they act in the outside world. Yeah, it may sound a bit too farfetched in real life… but it’s video games, you’re not supposed to be all realistic!

The tutorial ends abruptly as Atma gets into some sort of accident. The scene quickly switches into high school life, the kind of life Atma is having. He’s in the last year of high school, and he’s already got a girlfriend named Raya. They decide to skip school and have fun, creating a bucket list of what to do. It also quickly becomes clear that Raya is not a normal girl. She has this reality altering power, like making money materialize out of nowhere, or slowing down time. There are limitations, to make her not too overpowered.

But eventually, a date goes awry and Raya is not feeling too well. It’s from this point that Atma starts to get more involved with the people surrounding him. There’s the bad boy Erik, the intelligent and popular Lulu, and the nerdy bookworm Marin. Each following chapter afterwards is dedicated to the three. And for all the story gives, there are surprisingly interesting depths between the characters. Like there’s more to Erik than being just an antagonistic arsehole towards Atma. 

Oh, and speaking of bucket list, it stands for the main plot points, which Raya writes, as well as the side quests that Atma can participate in. It ranges from collecting a specific items, petting animals, finding musics to listen to, and… well, playing a Street Fighter clone in the arcade. One of them is also an in-game mechanic: Throughout the game, you will get into a time where you have to fight. The fighting mechanic is simple enough: Input a series of button sequences to complete an attack, and then press your main button on a moving target to hit the green spot to successfully defend. Both phases get more intricate in the latter parts of the game, but you can keep up with it just fine.

Certainly gonna make Phoenix Wright proud!

And if you happen to have played the Ace Attorney series… well, Chapter 3 will be a treat because the gimmick is Ace Attorney-like cases where you have to cross-examine certain people. They even got the EVO#37 (the Daigo Parry) reference for those who are keen on fighting games in general. It’s clear that the developers here are gamers on their own, and making their love letter to the genre.

Holy crap! A weredog!? In my slice of life adventure story!?

But everything eventually points to one thing: Raya and her mysterious power. While there are dark moments in the game, it later becomes clear that Raya is getting scarier as the chapters go. One by one, the important characters you meet, Erik, Lulu and Marin, all suffer gruesome fates, but most of them had something to do with Raya. And as time passes, the world seems to be going in an apocalyptic direction. 

Throughout the tutorial and still appearing within the game, Atma interacts with a smaller girl whom he later recognizes as ‘Nirmala’. Their interactions range between heartwarming and friendly to somehow Atma getting scared of what Nirmala does to his friends. It’s like she, along with Raya, lives in a world far beyond his reach.

And now, comes the final twist and why I have to put up the spoilers section in the first place.

The conclusion is that Nirmala is actually Raya’s younger self, having been depressed with her real life where she lives with an abusive father who is not supporting her aspirations as a writer, while her classmates, including Erik and Lulu, bullied her and called her a ‘freak’ for being different, and Marin just standing there unable to stand up for her. And finally? The accident at the tutorial… Atma actually died there trying to save Nirmala. 

Well, that may be your face when you hear the twist.

The Atma you’re controlling was just part of her memory about him. And as of current… Raya is in a coma and creates a dream world where she’s just reliving her life and modifying them to suit her ideal state.

This turns the whole game’s premise around. Instead of a heartwarming tale of two couple having their own coming-of-age story, the story is actually Raya trying to fight off her depression and eventually making peace with those who wronged her so she can move on from this dream world she’s escaping to (because in real life, they’re actually not so bad, even with their spotty pasts). And you, as the memory of Atma who died, must help Raya cope and move on. I say, when you find out about the twist, it’s actually well-placed and well-done.

The good thing about this is that the dialogues are written naturally and in a more relatable way. Toge Productions enlisted the help of an actual psychologist to make sure that Raya’s state of mind can be more realistic with those with a deep-seated anxiety and depression. And the writer team did their best to make sure that the dialogues and characterizations aren’t corny. Overall, it also feels like reading a story book on its own, and knowing that you’re helping a depressed person, it also has the potential to tug your heartstrings, and you fight off tears from your eyes at trying to sympathize at Raya’s situation even after she looks like she’s giving trouble and scaring you (as Atma) off. 

And as the story progresses, story pieces of Nirmala’s story that started in the tutorial will be available as an alternate reading, and it somehow links with the mental state Raya is in, and the subquests you complete will add more stories. So you can have fun relating with what you have done and learned with Nirmala’s story.

Overall, the story is definitely one of the strongest points of the game. The downside is that the gameplay itself is a little… simplistic. Unlike some other adventure games, like King’s Quest, where a mistake can really cost you your life and end the game, A Space for the Unbound has interactive sections, like sneaking through areas. However, the penalty of failing these tends to be light, you’re just sent back to the beginning of that part you failed. It’s a lot more forgiving for newbies, but for people looking for hardcore challenge, it may sound a bit lacking. The ‘hardest’ part are just certain parts of the sidequest, like trying to juggle a soccer ball 50 times, or playing an arcade game to get the high score. That could be a little daunting for certain people, but it’s easy to get into.

… What? It’s still a lot easier to get into compared to a MOBA!

Of course, one still has to be careful about saving the game. No, it doesn’t ruin your platform. However, after each chapter, you are usually warned if you’re about to enter a point of no return, so you can turn back and try to get the items you may have missed. However, this doesn’t apply for the FIRST CHAPTER, so if you somehow miss out certain items there… Well, good luck restarting after you have spent about 4 chapters in!

Graphics & Sound Presentation

Wow. Bakso. I still love to eat this kinda food.

Ahem, anyway… in terms of presentation other than the story… The graphics took after the 2D retro games. Now, I’m usually the type to appreciate both 3D and 2D, but I give thumbs up for the game portraying certain scenes in the end where the world is about to end. Great sceneries while being portrayed and animated in just 2D sprites! Of course, 3D fanatics would probably reject this one, but if you appreciate 2D, this game’s graphics are nice.

There’s no voice acting here, but the sound effects also harken back to the old school 2D RPG from either SNES or PS1 era. They’re also competently made and fit the setting of the 90’s in Indonesia. There’s just something calming in the main traveling theme when you walk around the streets. And naturally, the game also has tunes that fit the scene, and they’re also made to feel like it. A sad scene will have a sad, melancholic theme, whereas a scene where there could be danger is presented with a threatening tune.

And to make up for the lack of voice acting, multiple language options are available. I mean, it goes without saying, but considering how the story is packaged, I believe that this can be an opportunity to learn new languages if you want. Do you want to play through the story in the game’s native language (Indonesian)? Sure. You want to turn the whole thing into Japanese or Chinese language with their traditional writing (learning kanji, perhaps?)? Sure! Once you get the hang of the game, you really do not need much of the menu-reading to get through the game.

Cast of Characters

The main cast of characters.
Center: Raya
Clockwise from top (minus the cat): Nirmala, Marin, Erik, Lulu, Atma.

And finally, to complete the whole review… let’s review the ensemble cast a bit. The whole cast is surprisingly well done and complement each other. While the story is mostly about Atma and Nirmala, the supporting cast feel unique, not very generic, and the main focus of the chapter surprisingly has extra depths.

Like, while Erik is a bad boy, you eventually notice that he has his own bouts of kindness, even if it doesn’t help him. And while Lulu looks like she’s this perfect girl, you eventually learn a good reason and a bad side of hers which made her not getting along with Raya, but still presented to make her look reasonable and justified. And of course, most importantly, the game also presents a case of ‘never judge a book by its cover’.

You’ll never know when a certain demonic looking cat who antagonizes you will end up being your buddy. There’s just no one who are designed to be hated… well, except one character designed specifically for that (probably), but I’ll let you find out. It’s more obvious too. Still, the lovableness of the cast makes up for that.


Yea, well… by the end of it, you may end up being like Atma in this screenshot…
Shedding manly tears.

In conclusion, there are many Indonesians who have said that A Space for the Unbound is a masterpiece amongst Indonesian games, whereas the international crowd will praise it, but not put it on a pedestal. It’s a good game after all. Good graphical presentation in 2D, fitting music, forgiving gameplay, and most importantly, good story presentation with a nice cast and a well-placed twist. Even as an Indonesian, it’s not my style to overpraise and be overproud on the accomplishment of this game made by my fellow countrymen. But I do say… It’s a competently made game and I am proud (not overproud) of it.

This is ChrisX, recommending A Space for the Unbound for gamers to play… just as long as you are mentally well and don’t have anxiety problems. In which case, you need to seek professional help. Says right there as you boot up the game! Anyway, signing out!


One thought on “ChrisX ‘reviews’ : A Space for the Unbound

  1. The Shameful Narcissist March 18, 2023 / 5:04 am

    I find it so weirdly coincidental that I JUST bought a game by Toge Productions myself today: Coffee Talk. Wow, so everything had to be pirated back then? I’m glad it’s easier now because that had to be rough.


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