It’s the best time of the year for this relaxing and slow game

screenshot: Mujikin

I’m sure the independent studio MujikinSupernatural slice of life Space for uninvolved It’s the perfect game to play when it’s raining outside. Set in 1990 Indonesia, everything is smeared with evocative green, surrounded by a low, blazing sun and pink clouds. It gives you an inviting, dry place to escape to. It’s a sweet and indulgent adventure game with a multi-layered story to get lost in; It’s a grapefruit slice to enjoy while high-profile studios start the year with it class clown Troubles And performance problems.

But like a dream Space for uninvolved Could You Get – Its core story follows teenagers Atma and his mysterious girlfriend Rhea, who can manipulate reality at the cost of her health – its release was subject to real life as well.

In the summer of 2022, Mojiken and Coffee talk Developers Toge Productions Accused publisher PQube to exploit their “prestige and heritage as developers from Indonesia to obtain a diversification fund” that was withheld from the developers. In response, the developers decided to delay the game indefinitely” to ensure its publication […] In a way that is consistent with our values ​​and the values ​​of our society.” PR statement. In the end, the game was stuck on the ice for another five months, and the end result is nothing to regret.

This is my favorite part. Set in a cozy little town, on its surface, not much happens other than the protagonists’ school life, a low-traffic internet café, and clusters of bitter melons growing from short white fences. Although collectible bottle caps of apparently famous Indonesian drinks Like Rhino soda (“How can something locally produced be so expensive?” Atma asks) glamor is down to earth, and there are a few instances of uncharacteristically didactic anti-smoking dialogue, presumably speaking to persistent Indonesia. Tobacco addiction (“Smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease and can complicate pregnancy,” a general store owner and Atma told us), and the game never tries to explain its culture to you. No need for that. She personifies it.

Atma is standing under a shaded tree.

screenshot: Mujikin

As Atma, you’ll find useful junk, which a shopkeeper complains of people piling up, in an abandoned patch of swampland to help you complete objectives like baking a black forest cake for Raya. Other than finishing tasks, which require little more than navigating a compact map, picking things up, and bringing them elsewhere, gameplay consists of beating up school bullies through arcade-inspired arrow key combat and quick-time events, and performing “spacedives,” a mystical method of diving “into people’s hearts and [ridding] them from their inner turmoil.” A small yellow flower appears above the characters’ heads when they are able to perform this function. When they do, their hearts can be anything—maybe a galactic bedroom, a balancing scale, or a cage—but they are always inhabited by With one flowering tree, they have buds that bloom while basically healing their inner child to get what they want.

I don’t like it as much as the game’s beautiful pixels and fairytale charm (there’s a talking cat, a bully who turns into a “weredog”, Raya showing money in Atma’s pocket when she wants to watch a movie, etc..). I’ve played a little more than half of it, and I’ve never felt completely certain of her feelings or the message she was trying to send with them, even though the game Steam description He calls it “a story about overcoming anxiety and depression.”

For example, at one point, Atma is anguished for sparing the heart of a pastry chef into convincing her to stay at a job she hates. Your talking companion convinces you that this is the right thing to do, and as the player, you have no other choice – it’s the only way to get the Black Raya Forest and complete your objective.

Atma asks for cake.

screenshot: Mujikin

But it doesn’t seem like a very sympathetic task to me, and the game progresses as slowly as pouring a drink, so I couldn’t see how it fit into a plot that seemed to emphasize supportive friendship. Confusingly, after you do this, the pastry chef enthusiastically thanks you for leading her into the kitchen.

generally, Space for the uninvolvedPlot could benefit from more clarity. When Atma falls asleep, he has visions that help him understand Rhea’s unbridled powers. But she is short, and Ria usually contradicts or ignores her immediately upon awakening. So, while I continued to make time for the game, I never felt rewarded by knowing where, exactly, the story was headed.

The ten-hour game beats previous Mojiken releases by about eight, though, so it makes sense to me that Space for the uninvolved He has some trouble defining its mystery. Its setting seems carefully planned and I admire its ambitions to tell a modern tale, so I can forgive the sometimes awkward execution. It still looks like the quiet sunset of a dark January. It’s like a song with coded words – when you play it, there’s still something to gain.

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