Unpacking is a recently released indie game from Witch Beam. It is, as the name implies, a game where you unpack and move your “character” into various rooms at different stages of their life. The game is meant to be a relaxed zen-like experience with a bit of a puzzle element to it.
You start off with a child’s room and a few boxes. You don’t have any prior knowledge of what is in the boxes, so as you unpack, it is a bit of surprise and challenge for where to put things. Certain things have to go in particular locations. For instance, stuffed animals need to be on a bed or displayed on a shelf and cannot just be on the floor. Books and other things need to be sorted certain ways, and you don’t have the option to just store most of your stuff – although you will get a few areas where you can just put stuff away, but for the most part, everything needs to be out and in certain places. –
There will be a few things that really only have one location they can go, such as in the first room your diary must go under your pillow. Otherwise, there is quite a bit of freedom. It can be a bit confusing though, there is one level where I kept getting stuck because a certain picture needs to be put in exactly one location, case in point. There aren’t a lot of hints for this type of thing, though, so I found myself frustrated that I couldn’t figure out where to place it.
However, a great thing is if the puzzle aspect is bothering you, you can turn it off and just be able to put things anywhere. I tried not to depend on this feature too much, but there were a few times when it was easier to just shut off the puzzling and enjoy sorting things how I wanted. There are a few arbitrary rules about what can and cannot be together or where things can go that are frankly a bit silly at times. But again, you can turn off the puzzle aspect, so it’s not that big of a deal.
The game also does an interesting job of painting a picture of your character without many details. You know the years and little else, but you can start to see things clearly just through the limited details they give. So again, you start with a kid’s room, then move several years forward, college. You eventually move into a house where you can tell at least two other people live, to an apartment with someone who doesn’t make space for your character, back home, etc. You start to see a fuller picture of someone going through transitions, breakups, setbacks, and moving forward. You also see more maturity with the things you find yourself unpacking while still holding onto a few pieces. So a stuffed pig makes it from your first room all the way to the final home, which includes a baby room.
It is a sweet and interesting way to paint a picture of a person’s life, or at least snapshots of it. Growing up while still holding on to pieces from our childhood. Accomplishments your character clearly makes with their studies and job, heartbreak, and joy. I found it really compelling, although there are questions, such as why does the one picture need to be hidden? These questions aren’t frustrating, though; more just give you the sense that there is more to learn, as with real people.
The art is great, and the music is very relaxing. There is a variety of different items, and the various rooms/homes will allow you to be creative with most of what you are unpacking. There is also still the challenge of making everything fit and look nice. As well as once again, if you leave on the puzzle aspect putting everything in approved places. Mostly though, the experience is great because it allows you to just zone out almost. It is one of those games that is more for the relaxing that it brings rather than challenge or in-your-face gameplay. It’s a nice little experience in organizing and making things look nice set to nice music and with a nice look.
So bottom line. This game is going to appeal to a certain type of person when they are in a certain mood. If you like organizing and chill gaming experiences, here you go. If that sounds boring to you, you’ll be hard-pressed to get into it, although it might bring some people who didn’t expect to like it in. I hesitate a little with the price, but ultimately think it is worth it. However, it is currently on Game Pass, so really no reason to not try it if you have that. All in all, if you are looking for a relaxing game, this is one I greatly enjoyed and look forward to revisiting in the future.