Unpacking 'Unpacking', the indie about moving

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What is Unpacking?

Unpacking follows the life of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she ages and moves to varying homes. You'll arrange her possessions and learn more about her through what she keeps, tosses, and collects.

You might already be thinking this is a boring premise. (Hey, who am I to judge?) That said, if you're the kind of player who likes:

  • Cozy games
  • Nostalgia-inducing narrative
  • Chill/Short Games
  • Pixel-bit art

This game is for you. I'd also say if you enjoyed games like Coffee Talk, I can almost guarantee you'll like this game.

It's good to note that Unpacking is published by Humble Games, which tends to publish lots of pixel-bit titles and cuter, illustrative games. Some of my favorites (and a few on my to-play list) include Forager, Wizard of Legend, and Ikenfell.

Unpacking does a few things really, really well. I'll cover the basics of what to expect.

Soundtrack and audio design

I like to shout out games that have nice soundtracks! BAFTA-winning composer Jeff van Dyck made the soundtrack for Unpacking. It has some soft vibes that immerse you in the zen mindset of organizing. Feel free to check it out-- even if you don't play this game, maybe you can throw this on a playlist for when you're doing HW or want some pixel-acoustic music as a background to your morning (or afternoon, evening, pre-dinner, dessert) coffee. Here's the theme song for those interested. In terms of sound design, the team at Witch Beam (the developers) did an excellent job designing all the different sound effects for the different item types. There are distinct, unique sounds for items based on their materials and the type of material/surface they're placed on. I have to say I was pretty impressed by that level of sound design when it would've been easy and almost unnoted to have gone an easier route.

Narrative underpinnings

Unpacking tells a story in a subtle, quiet way that I haven't really seen before. Even if this isn't your type of game, it's worth noting that the story of a person's life told only through their possessions is pretty interesting. (At least to me, that is.) You get to know the protagonist through what she owns and how she arranges the things she loves. There's no dialogue, very little text, and no real framing for the story. Players will have to deal with some situations-- some items in different levels can't be moved at all, while other items cannot be put in certain areas. Dealing with these situations helps slowly develop a story about the character, but more importantly, it tells us what this person values and really, who this person is at their core.

The ultimate stress made chill

If you've moved houses before you know it can suck. Somehow you lose your favorite shirt but manage to hang on to a charging cable for a phone you had 6 years ago. Unpacking takes the best elements of moving-- fresh changes, decorating, restoring order-- and makes it a chill game. There aren't time restrictions or chaos as you madly search for a lost toothbrush; you just get to veg out and organize your desk. Combined with the pixel visuals, Unpacking makes a pretty relaxing experience.

Recap

In short, Unpacking is a shorter, chill narrative game that scratches an itch in my brain for good organization. Maybe you'll be like me and like it as well.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments what kind of games YOU like playing!

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