Growing up, the biggest chore for me was having to tidy my room – no matter how many times my mum would ask me, I would constantly put it off and despise having to keep everything neat and organised. Messy was the way I liked it. Now as an adult who has moved out of home, I find such peace and calm in having an organised space to live in (sorry mum – you were right!). I remember the pain that was having to unpack the boxes of my belongings in my new place, but there was this amazing excitement in making this new house a home. As much as I love my fast-paced shooters and horror titles, who would have thought that a game about unpacking belongings would be one of the most therapeutic and addictive games I would come to play this year?
Humble Games and the Brisbane-based Witch Beam have created the incredibly relaxing and cosy game Unpacking, which cleverly explores the life of a young woman through the items and belongings she takes with her to her new homes. Unpacking is a point-and-click story game beginning in the year 1997 in your character’s childhood room. Your task is to unpack each of her boxes and decorate the room with each item you take out. What makes this game so chill is that there is no timer and no scores – you can redecorate and organise to your heart’s content.
Just one box left…
As you progress through different years in your character’s life, there are more rooms and boxes to go through as she moves between apartments and eventually her own home. It’s so interesting to see what items stay and go with her throughout the years and what goes, and the game does a great job in teaching the player the character’s interests, hobbies and relationships.
You can take creative liberties with decorating most of the room, however later in the game some items may not belong to the room you’re unpacking in – just like in real life, we might have a rogue hairdryer appear in the box meant for your study! It becomes quite fun and entertaining not knowing what items are going to come out of the box you open, and every item is a different shape and size, so there’s a fun puzzle element to the game to find a spot for everything. When you finish completing a level, the game will highlight objects that don’t belong in a certain room, such as a hairdryer in the study, and you’ll have to find the appropriate spot for these items, which may require some rearranging.
Ah, the joys of sharing a bathroom
Making the experience even more relaxing is the game’s music, which is very laid-back and fits the theme of each time of your character’s life, whether that be an upbeat and bubbly tune playing during her childhood, or the more easy-going tones in her teenage years. I was hooked on the game and the music just added to the relaxing feel the game is going for. The different soft sounds of placing various objects up and down around each room were also oddly satisfying.
Another facet that Witch Beam has nailed is the art style, which is incredibly cute and endearing. Each location and individual has its own unique feel and design throughout the game which keeps the unpacking mechanic fresh, and it tells you so much about the character’s life without having to spell it out to you.
There are some fantastic little details in the game, such as having open drawers in the kitchen jamming when trying to open something else next to it, and there are a few fun easter eggs to unlock and discover if you interact with certain items the right way. When you discover easter eggs in the game, it unlocks special stickers you can use in the game’s Photo Mode, which is complete with filters and borders to customise the final look of your unique interior design.
Unlocking the dab sticker through an easter egg was a good laugh
I finished the game in about four hours, but I could’ve spent forever rearranging and redecorating so I’m tempted to go back to play more and find the easter eggs I missed. My only wish was that there were more stories to play through! While it definitely has the replayability factor, it still feels limited in only having eight levels and left an itch to want more different rooms to redecorate.
Unpacking is now one of my go-to games when I want to relax and unwind. It provides clever storytelling through its simple mechanics, and its cosy style makes it a game to be enjoyed by all ages. Unpacking is perfect for those looking for a title to kick back and unwind with in their downtime, drawing you into a cosy escape that will leave you wanting more.
Reviewed on PC // Review code supplied by publisher
- Witch Beam
- Humble Bundle
- Xbox One / Nintendo Switch / PC
- November 2, 2021