CultureHead Magazine

Unpacking
Image via Steam
Unpacking
Image via Steam

The gameplay of Unpacking is relatively simple. At each level, you find yourself in a new location where you unpack a collection of boxes and put the items properly. Although you never meet the protagonist, you follow their journey from 1997 to 2018 through a series of new homes and changing relationships.

Playable with just a mouse, visual cues, and adjustable settings, Unpacking is a rather accessible game. The objects that you unpack from the boxes give you a glimpse into their personality and daily life. The tons of art supplies indicate that they’re probably an artist. You’ll also learn that they love to read books, play video games, and have a set of soft toys they’ll never part with.

Souvenirs and postcards from different holidays keep reappearing, as well as an ever-expanding collection of chicken and egg figurines. From a small bedroom to a college dorm to a shared apartment, you watch the character grow up, fall in love, break up and begin a new life elsewhere. There isn’t any text or dialogue, and yet the story told is accessible, moving, and memorable.

Unpacking: A Relaxing Puzzle Adventure About Moving Homes CultureHead Magazine
Image via Steam

Unpacking clearly draws from early puzzle games like Tetris as well as home décor flash games, managing to tell a complex story with minimal elements. It might remind players of walking simulators like Gone Home and What Remains of Edith Finch, although in Unpacking, the focus is less on exploration and more about finding comfort in an unfamiliar space. Organizing the cupboards, color coding the wardrobes, and finding the best spots for particular items is immensely satisfying. With a soothing soundtrack and an optional Photo Mode, the game makes for an emotional and relaxing experience.

At its heart, Unpacking is proof that immersive stories can be told in a simple fashion, without relying on fancy graphics, difficult mechanics, or a variety of controls—if one is creative enough and keeps accessibility in mind while making it.

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