Unpacking is a strange puzzle game, designed by indie studio Witch Beam, and published by Humble Bundle Games. It was released on Xbox, Switch, and PC in November 2021.
Everyone hates packing. That’s a fact. Unless of course you’re one of the few who does I guess. But a lot of people love unpacking. Myself included. There’s nothing like taking stuff out of boxes, and getting your life pieced back together, bit by bit. But what Witch Beam did was make it a game. You follow the story of your nameless character, who is a female. You learn this throughout the game if you pay attention, as she grows up and moves from place to place. At first it starts off in her house as a child. Unpacking into her new bedroom. Eventually she goes to college. Until eventually you see the way her life unfolds as an adult. Though the story may not be the strongest aspect of this game, it was still bittersweet seeing the journey the character was taking through life, as I feel everyone can relate to the moments. Though I do wish she had a name.
The game plays in a weird way. You open boxes, and when you pull out an item, it could literally be anything. So you have to find a spot for it to fit into the room. This was a fun process, as you’re going through the rooms of each level, figuring out where you should put everything. How will you organize the kitchen? Will you put frying pans in the cupboards above the counter? Or below? What about the cups? Where will you put your shoes? What clothes go into a dresser, and what goes on a hanger? This was exciting to do in each level, as I felt like I was an interior decorator, and I set up each room of each level, the way I would with my own home.
But after a while, unfortunately the fun gameplay loop starts to wear thin. Especially in one level when there is not a lot of room for stuff. So you want it one way, but you then have to change everything around. Then there’s a billion boxes to go through, that are cutting off part of the scenery, so you have to just toss stuff around until you get access to the cupboards. Or you’re putting away the same room, in the same way, for the fifth time in a row. Sure you could switch or up a little, but why would you? But even then, some items have to be in specific places to be able to beat the level. So you don’t even get true freedom when placing every time.
One fun thing I did enjoy though, is that as the character moves throughout the years of their life, you see everything that they love too much to throw out, and everything they’ve acquired in their life. When they’re 25, they still have their cassette walkman, and their gameboy. But they also have a Gameboy Advance and a Wii. They still have their very first teddy bear, along with a culmination of other stuffed animals. It made me think of everything I’ve held onto over the years, and it made me thankful that I never got rid of them, and that such sweet memories are tied to them. I do really wish we got to know more of our nameless character though. I wanted to know more about her life, and her memories. Not just piece things together from her belongings. Unfortunately the game even ended a bit too soon. With only a 3 hours run time, you only see a fraction of the characters life, as each level takes places, often years apart from the last. I know the point of the game is to be a zen, relaxing game of unpacking, hence the name, with some very soothing music, but I just wanted more is all.
- Soothing Music
- Piecing Rooms Together
- No Real Story Or Background On The Main Character
- Gameplay Starts To Wear Thin
I enjoyed this game for what it was. After a long day, it was enjoyable to sit down with. But eventually the gameplay wears thin, and I’m sad you don’t learn more about the main character. I definitely recommend playing this, but maybe don’t do it all at once.
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Game & Developer Information
Images – https://witchbeam.com.au/presskit/