It’s always nice to kick back to a casual, zen puzzle game and this is one that has been on my radar since I saw it earlier this year during Summer of Gaming. So, here’s my quick review for Unpacking.
First and foremost – the length, since that is likely going to be the deciding factor for most buyers. Unpacking took me just three hours to clear. However, I only earned 52% of the achievements in this time, so there is some bonus stuff to hunt for if you are a completionist. That said, some might find this to be too short an experience – I myself won’t deny that it would have been cool to see more rooms with maybe multiple protagonists.
The gameplay though is where it’s really at. You’re basically tasked with opening boxes and, well, unpacking them – placing items in all sorts of rooms and doing a bit of decorating too. This is where the “zen” part kicks in, as the simple pixel graphics, the cheerful, light background music, and the ease of control kinda make it a therapeutic experience. I found myself quickly sucked into it, organizing my closet, arranging my books by size, and really letting my OCD tendencies go wild.
The environments are very well-designed to aid in this experience, with each room littered with potential storage options. Maybe you want to stack your Blu-rays horizontally in the entertainment cabinet, or maybe you want them vertical on the shelf. Maybe that picture can go well on your desk, or maybe you don’t have enough room and it ends up on the wall. There is clearly a lot of effort put into how items connect on the environment and this is perhaps most evident with the sound effects – of which there are nearly 14,000 audio files replicating how different objects sound on different surfaces.
So, on the gameplay and design front – the game is solid, but that’s actually not all there is to it. It also manages to tell a short, yet interesting story without ever needing to use dialogue. You get to learn about our protagonist through multiple moves and the objects carried between them. A souvenir of the Eiffel Tower would show up at one point for example, indicating that sometime between the last move and this one – the protagonist visited France.
There was even a point where – without spoiling – I thought I had completed a level, but a certain object was highlighted red – indicating that I can’t finish the level with that object there. Trying out different placements, it dawned on me that there being no room for this particular object was a strong storytelling message in itself and the only room for said object was to hide it away under the bed. The game gets really creative like this and the story even gets a bit emotional towards the end – an excellent complement to the gameplay.
And that’s pretty much all there is to Unpacking. It may be short, but I would say it is worth the recommendation. It sets out to be this nice, zen puzzle game and does a great job in doing so. Nice pixel graphics, relaxing music, ASMR-like gameplay, and even a cool little story to tie it all together. I had a good time with it and if you’re into these indie puzzlers like I am than you probably will too.
Quote: Unpacking is basically ASMR in video game form. Nice pixel graphics and music, relaxing gameplay, and even a cool little story to tie it all together – an easy recommendation for puzzle fans.
Unpacking retails for $20 USD on Steam and is also available through GOG and on Switch and Xbox One.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.