Written by Edwin Francisco
Unpacking is a zen puzzle game developed by Witch Beam and published by Humble Games.
The thought of unpacking is usually a chore especially when you just moved into a new home.
I know people sometimes even take forever to unpack things from the boxes since it really is a lot of work.
But I couldn’t have imagined someone making a game about unpacking and organizing random stuff.
The game is rather simple.
You are provided a room, and boxes full of what-have-you items.
All you need to do is basically arrange everything that you have just revealed from unpacking.
You are not allowed to throw away anything but you do have to find the correct spot for certain items.
Unpacking is not very strict with where you need to put items, but it still must be correct in terms of the game’s rules.
Like the stuff toys must always be in the bedroom, the first- aid kit must always be in the bathroom, or the clothes must be in the closet.
There are certain items that are strictly in a specific location.
There is no time limit or anything that can put stress into the game.
A Snapshot Of Her Life
The game starts with a photo album.
You are given three books.
None of them are different, just think of them as different save locations.
But choosing any book doesn’t really have a major impact on the game.
After choosing a photo book, you put in your name (it can be anything, it won’t affect the game).
Then it just puts you in a room with some furniture with boxes.
Open up a box and it will reveal items one by one.
You have the option to place it immediately anywhere you like, or just put everything on the floor and figure everything out later.
Once you finish setting up a room(s) it will highlight errors if there are any.
But once you are done, you’ll get to access the next room or house.
However, before you move, there will be a small written note indicating the feelings of the owner of the photo book.
Then you start working on the next room, and you discover that some of the items that you are unpacking are the same as from the previous room.
It means that the items here are owned by the same character.
One set of rooms won’t let you move items present in the area, mainly because you discover that she’s a friend and you can’t move items because you are sharing a space with a friend.
Later on, on another level, you can move certain items, because now, the main character is in a relationship.
At a certain point you also notice that things that she owned a long time ago, doesn’t look as nice as it has come to some damage or wear and tear with age.
The game is actually telling you a story.
Without any words, just by unpacking boxes and arranging items, you discover the life of this unspoken character.
It’s actually very fascinating the more you get farther into the game.
Retro At Home
The graphics of Unpacking use pixel art, which is great and has been a popular style of the past few years.
The room itself is shown in a fixed isometric view.
You aren’t allowed to rotate the room or change the angle.
The items that you get out of the box are also in an isometric view but the items, you are allowed to slightly change the position.
In most cases, it’s fine.
But the problem with the fixed isometric view, is that you can’t place some items in certain locations because you can’t visually see it.
Like, you know there is space in that closet that you see, but because it’s too far in the corner, you can’t reach it because the game can’t let you see or reach that far.
It’s a bit frustrating because there is space, but I can’t do anything to put that item there.
Unpacking presumes that you are familiar with all of the items just by looking at it.
It can be confusing at times, especially if you have not seen a particular item before and you are expected to put it in the right spot.
There are times that it’s hard to understand what the items are because they are very small.
Even if you zoom in, it’s still the same.
It won’t increase the detail, the pixel art just gets bigger or smaller.
The game is basically point and click. Using the gamepad is okay, but at times, it’s not as precise as you’d want it to be.
Developers used a zoom in and out function to get better control.
It’s a nice compromise.
It is quite obvious that the game is designed to use a mouse instead of a gamepad.
Relaxing Chip Tunes
The music is lovely
The first tune starts with a guitar, but highlights the tracks with chip tunes. It keeps the guitar as it’s melody.
There are other tracks too that have that same effect, some slower too.
At some point in the game, it does even represent the feelings of the main character.
I’ve heard a lot of chiptunes before from a band like Anamanaguchi.
Music is not rock hard music like Anamanaguchi, but is relaxing, not zen like.
But more like soft pop music.
Relaxing By Unpacking
Unpacking is very short.
You can finish it in one sitting if you want to.
The price of the game is not so bad, which is US$19.99.
My only issue with the game is that it’s hard to play it again.
It is encouraged though so you can learn and unlock more things about the character.
But at the same time, most of the things you are doing will be generally the same.
Repeating the actions will then feel like a chore.
But I do like playing the game.
The game is only one player, but it’s nice to have someone beside you to talk about how things can be arranged and what other people see about the story.
It’s a unique premise for a game.
It’s nice and simple in terms of the idea, but at the same time, the discovery of the person’s virtual life is intriguing.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Game released on November 2, 2021
Developer: Witch Beam
Publisher: Humble Games