Unpacking Review: A True Unboxing Experience

You've moved house, now's the fun bit, or in this indie title's case: the satisfying part. A quick Unpacking review, currently available on Game Pass.

Every year I have a Christmas game that occupies my time over the holidays, but this year it was a case of catching up with the likes of HadesTwelve MinutesUnpacking and many more since unearthing the delight that is Game Pass.

Unpacking was a word associated with a screenshot or two that folk on Twitter were tweeting about, and I was typically ignoring them enough not to know anything about it. However, as it was ‘free’, I thought I’d have a quick look, and no doubt leave it festering on the hard drive to add to the personal backlog.

But if you’ve played the game, you’ll know that it isn’t a simple case of picking it up, clicking about, then playing another day. It’s so thoroughly satisfying that this game should go on every gamers curriculum – regardless if they ‘don’t do cute’.

So, what’s the point of Unpacking? Far from deceiving, it’s in the title. The task at hand is to unpack every box in the game, finding a home for each object. At first, it’s a bedroom where placing cuddly toys and books is a no-brainer. There’s no correct space, but items do have a dedicated home to some extent.

Unpacking Review - College
College years. Source: PR

That becomes apparent in the subsequent levels as a floorplan becomes available as you’re now unpacking your life into bathrooms, dining rooms and more. As lazy as it is to leave your toothbrush by the telly, so you don’t need to get up, a red line will show around the item indicating that it is not in its proper place – be it the room or location. You’ll only find this out after unpacking everything.

the core experience of sorting and rearranging is immensely satisfying

Note that comment about unpacking your life. As subtle as it may be, Unpacking is telling a story and the further you go into the game, the more familiar items become and your attachment to it. It’s a bit like Toy Story in that you have a connection with inanimate objects, but as you grow older, that deteriorates – computers and MP3 players replace toy robots. That favourite mug starts showing its age and eventually needs to be replaced.

It’s an uplifting experience that is well worth your time. Aside from the hints of a story as our character grows up, the core experience of sorting and rearranging is immensely satisfying. If you’re a retro collector of any medium, or were there ‘back in the day’, reorganising your CDs, socks, 16-bit cartridges is therapeutic, and there’s that joy (spark joy?) of finding a home for everything to make your lived-in space feel like home. You only have to look on Instagram to see how this concept resonates with the masses.

So, Witch Beam are onto a winner then? No, not really. What lets Unpacking down is… no, I’m being facetious: there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a charming isometric pixel art dream or satisfaction. That’s a statement and a half, but it’s true. Will I be playing this way into 2022? Unlikely, for a multitude of reasons, but nothing to do with the game – it’s lovely.

Unpacking Review - Living out of boxes
Living out of boxes. Source: PR

As is the pattern of the last few entries of reviews, I was able to play Unpacking via Game Pass. Microsoft doesn’t pay me or send stickers in the post, but if you don’t have it yet and have the option to try it out, go for it – it’s way better than the PS+ service I’ve been subscribed to all these years; you get a better selection of games, in my opinion, such as Unpacking

Other games available on Game Pass that I’m currently working my way through include:

In that short time of trialling the service, I’ve already finished Unpacking, but also The Gunk and Twelve Minutes – all games well worth Game Pass, even if you only try for free for a month.

Again, no commission, just recommending it. Big time.

[yasr_overall_rating size=”large”]