“No human culture is inaccessible to someone who makes the effort to understand, to learn, to inhabit another world.” – Henry Louis Gates Jr.
Mojiken Studios are based in Surabaya, Indonesia and believe that ‘fun games can bring a positive impact on our lives’. They have worked in tandem with Toge Productions, based in Karawaci, also in Indonesia, to create some truly beautiful experiences, such as previously reviewed titles When the Past was Around: Prologue and A Raven Monologue.
This developer and publisher collaboration have also worked together on a selection of titles set in rural areas of their home country including a free visual- novel, Banyu Lintar Angin and an upcoming pixel art adventure A Space for the Unbound.
“Banyu Lintar Angin” – Little Storm
Developer: Mojiken Studios
Released: March 2017
Banya Lintar Angin is a short and sweet visual novel that will take around 10 minutes to complete. The series of illustrations seem to represent the contents of a letter from 3 siblings living independently in rural Indonesia, sent to their mysteriously absent parents. The story is vague and down to earth but also sincerely touching and has a clear and overarching positive message about family and togetherness.
The game’s artwork is unsurprisingly its stand out feature, it has a soft, anime style and atmospheric use of lighting. As the game is almost entirely void of text, the illustrations are relied on to convey the setting, narrative and characters which they do beautifully and concisely.
Whilst the music is pleasant enough, it is consistently jolly and whimsical and doesn’t always correlate emotionally with the images on the screen. Whilst it is by no means bad, it is a weak point of the game and could have been implemented with more poignancy.
The main game, though short, is an enjoyable and heart-warming experience that is available free. However, an additional DLC containing a mini soundtrack album, a PDF step by step of Banyu Lintar Angin production and HD versions of the illustrations is also available for around $3.00 on Steam and itch.io for anyone looking to support the project or the team behind it.
A Space for the Unbound – Prologue
Developer: Mojiken Studios
Released: January 2020
This is a free, 20-minute prologue for the upcoming game A Space for the Unbound, a slice-of-life adventure set in rural Indonesia in the late 1990s. It tells a story about overcoming anxiety, depression, and the relationship between a boy and a girl with supernatural powers, such as the ability to ‘space dive’ into people minds and hearts, Inception-style.
Primarily a walking-simulator, A Space for the Unbound is made up of stunning pixel-art environments, that although somewhat simplistic are colourful and charming. The various settings and locations also have the added bonus of being littered with cats, all of which are pettable!
The music in the game, composed by Masdito “Ittou” Bachtiar, is relaxing and twee in places but also varied and succeeds in being much more tense and emotive when appropriate. Silence is also used without fear and helps to build drama in the latter stages of the prologue as well as fantastic use of quality sound effects to add a real sense of the environment and its ambience. A Space for the Unbound also includes specific reference to and use of Indonesian keroncong music as an interesting cultural reference.
Despite its short length, this title makes a real emotional impact and touches on a range of complicated themes including self-discovery, loss, friendship, insecurity and emotional and financial strain, amongst others. It is a deceptively casual experience that reveals itself to be much deeper and more turbulent than it first appears. Beautiful in a variety of ways, I would happily recommend A Space for the Unbound Prologue to anyone with heartstrings to pull on!