Ever since Unpacking released last year (2021), I’ve only heard great things about the game. I didn’t get a chance to play the game when it first released, but after constantly hearing about it, I knew I would play it some day. The game is such a relaxing experience, which is why I decided to create a Video Game Video Review (VGVR).
I chose to do so because the best way to experience this game is by seeing it in action. Unpacking is “a zen puzzle game about unpacking a life.” Below you will find my Unpacking Video Game Video Review (VGVR), along with the script to accompany it.
Unpacking may be one of the most chill, laid back and relaxing gaming experiences I’ve ever had. What makes this game special is that it’s not about speed or precision. Unpacking is a leisure game where you get to choose where things go. Of course, certain items have their appropriate spots, while others have multiple options which may gain you special recognition (in the form of stickers).
In Unpacking, you journey through the life of an unseen character through many different major life events — AKA moving days. It all starts with moving into a new family home as a child. You are in charge of arranging your childhood room. Afterwards we jump to the next moving day, a few years later. With each move you learn a bit more about who this character is — or who you think they are.
When first hearing about this game I thought each level would consist of unpacking randomly-generated junk in a different randomly-generated room. The story is what makes this game so great. Without the game giving too much away, players are able to create this story and character in their own mind. No two players should picture the same main character in Unpacking.
As the game progresses you must learn to unpack and adapt to different scenarios. Multiple rooms and shared spaces, all while acquiring more and more items along the way. New scenarios are what makes each moving day just a little bit different.
Without ever showing us any characters, Unpacking does a swell job with its visual storytelling. As you unpack, you start to notice recurring childhood objects and memories. New items are added throughout the journey — some even compliment older ones. There are also advances in technology as you progress.
The reason you care about each move is because you are following a single human’s life. There’s some familiarity to it. You want to know what comes next. You also get to see how the character evolves through their belongings.
Due to its simple pixel art direction it’s easy for multiple players to see objects differently in Unpacking. For instance, when the character switched from a desktop to a laptop computer, I noticed a digital drawing pad (which could also be seen as an etch-a-sketch). For this reason I put markers, pencils and notepads away in the closet. I thought of the main character as more of a digital artist at this point, so these items were more momentos than useful tools.
Think of when you went off to college and brought some picture frames and random decorations from your home desk. Of course, you planned to put these items on your new desk, because that’s where they were and have always been. Throughout the years, you see these same items make their way off of your desk and some even into the trash. In Unpacking, some items that were desk items in my first room remained desk items throughout the years.
Once you move into shared living spaces, the game changes from filling open spaces to rearranging items to make room for your own. The game doesn’t let you trash items, if it does I never tried to, but instead I started to hide certain objects in drawers instead of having them out in the open.
*At one point, I became very worried. I was unpacking my toothbrush and at first had to place it directly on the bathroom counter. That’s just wrong and nasty. Bacteria. Germs. Later on, I found a bathroom mug where I could fit my toothbrush and toothpaste — just as I do in real life. I just wanted to note this amazing User Interface design, plus it also calmed my dirty toothbrush anxiety.
Any time a game can implement touch controls on the Nintendo Switch it’s sort of a blessing and a curse. Sure it’s great for handheld mode, but once you move into docked mode those controls are gone. So don’t get used to them.
I started off using touch controls in handheld mode, but moved more toward joy-con unpacking. When I finally played on my TV with my Switch Pro Controller, the thumbsticks worked perfectly. I didn’t miss the touch controls at all.
It’s funny because I heard a lot of hype about this game when it first released. I knew I wanted to try it out for myself, but it still sounded kind of silly. Unpacking is so much more than what I thought it would be. I think I found my next great relaxing bedtime game.
While playing Unpacking I started thinking, What would a sequel to this be? Other than more unpacking… They can create a themed edition. Imagine Unpacking for Mario, Kratos, Kirby, Cuphead or any other well-known video game character.
They can also go for a super tough and time consuming celebrity mansion edition. Imagine unpacking in one of Nicolas Cage’s European Castles, or everything in Wayne Manor including all of Batman’s gadgets and doohickies in the batcave. Someone should make that game!
Unpacking is such a great, interesting and new experience. It’s also very replayable. Just because I used that second drawer for undies last time, doesn’t mean I have to do it again this time. It’s also very satisfying to watch your speedy replay.
I have a lot more Unpacking to do. In fact, it’s time to get back to Unpacking.
Unpacking is out on PC (via Steam, GOG and Humble Store) and consoles — currently Nintendo Switch and Xbox consoles with a PlayStation console version on the way. There are also some exclusive physical editions currently up for pre-order from Limited Run Games.
*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Unpacking from the publisher.