Unpacking, the game review for order lovers



Here’s our review of Unpacking, a lively little game that puts us directly face-to-face with tidying up the house right after a move.

In the last years there have been many video games that had as a common thread the desire to propose a relaxing experience, that would allow to completely detach the brain from the daily problems of the single player; fascinating experiences able to capture both at an audiovisual and ludic level. The most recent proposal of this macro-category is represented by Unpacking, a light and meditative title developed by the small team of Witch Beam.

Between boxes and recurring items, we unpack a lifelong story in this Unpacking review.

A narrative for objects

Unpacking: narrative follows one girl's moves from childhood to adulthood

Unpacking brings players to engage with the life of a girl, from her childhood to the construction of their family unit, all through pivotal moments of her existence, represented by the removals in new locations and homes. The charm of Unpacking lies in discovering the vicissitudes that have seen the protagonist of our semi-alter ego (since the interaction does not coincide directly with the physicality of the character) through the objects that each time we are to unpack: a cup chipped, a new souvenir, photos to stick to the bulletin board or on the refrigerator, new and old game consoles, with all the titles that follows.

We learn to know the stylistic, artistic and cultural tastes of the young woman through the elements that are added as we go along or that recur with each move. The objects thus become the mirror of the protagonist’s personality, which are then mixed with those of the new faces that join her growth path.

The duration of this adventure coincides with how much we decide to be precise and meticulous during our game, but, ultimately, the entire narrative arc does not take away more than five hours of play. A result, however, quite satisfactory for a title like this, in constant danger of being or too hasty or overly pulled by the hair. Among the qualities of Unpacking certainly includes the knowledge to understand when to stop.

Neat gameplay

Unpacking: making order is the key to the game

The player’s objective in Unpacking is to put their home in order after a move. Depending on the period of the protagonist’s life, you will find yourself exploring different spaces, some larger, some more contained, and some shared. One package at a time, the game gives us carte blanche to put items in order. Or, at least, it seems that way. In fact, Unpacking is a very framed title with respect to the placement of objects, which can not be left in any place (for example, a game console must necessarily be inside the TV cabinet, or dishes can not be left on the kitchen counter).

Until you have placed every single object in an appropriate place, you won’t be able to proceed to the next level. This tends to highlight more the puzzle dynamics of the game, with millimetric and often forced joints, than those of a “zen” title that leaves full freedom to the player. We don’t think it’s necessarily a fault, but it’s definitely a missed opportunity in terms of replayability (despite the fact that at the end of the adventure you unlock modes that allow the player to manage the scene as they see fit, but with the sole purpose of social sharing of their work).

Unpacking: completing the game objectives rewards you with stickers to use in the photo mode

There is also a sort of progression with objectives, unlockable by carrying out certain actions within the game, such as completing a level or placing objects in a certain way or place. These objectives reward you with stickers, which you can use to beautify your image in the dedicated “photo mode”.

PC System Requirements

Test Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 11
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-10700
  • Memory: 16GB RAM
  • Video card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070

Minimum Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1+
  • Processor: support for SSE2 instruction set
  • Video card: Graphics card with support for DirectX 10.
  • Memory: 1 GB of available space

Technical compartment

Unpacking: technically not revolutionary, but still an excellent exercise in style

If you are looking for audiovisual freshness, Unpacking is perhaps not the title for you. In fact, in terms of graphics we are faced with the usual, abused pixel art with isometric view that has made the fortune of the gaming industry, both in its early years, both during the nostalgic search of recent times. Warning, however: the fact that it is not original does not mean that it is not well made, quite the contrary. The only flaw that we feel to attribute to the technical sector is precisely the lack of sophistication. For the rest, it remains an excellent exercise in style.

On an audio level we’re in the same boat, a very pleasant 8-bit musical commentary (with a song for each game frame) and a truly overwhelming amount of sound effects (practically every object present has dedicated sounds depending on the surfaces with which it interacts or the way we move it).

Comment

Unpacking is one of those games that doesn’t want to overdo it. In its own small way, it is able to fascinate, offering an experience that tastes “already seen”, yet peculiar enough to find its own distinctive way. It is not one of those revolutionary independent titles, able to give a moral slap to the industry, but it is still an excellent product, made with dedication and, above all, awareness of the language chosen to convey a simple story, with which anyone can identify, at least in part.

PRO

  • Meticulously crafted
  • Interesting narration by objects
  • Aware of its expressive possibilities
  • A little more freedom wouldn’t have hurt.
  • Little replayability
  • Have you noticed any errors?
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