I have been moving quite often, to the point that I am not sure if I will ever truly settle down. Despite that this can be a hassle, it is also nice to take in the new place and make it your own or even pack down stuff and reminisce about the adventures you have had so far. Unpacking wishes to replicate the former and simultaneously present a personal story. However, is this just a pretty take on a chore or is there clearly more to this experience?
Do you really need all this clutter?
The name of this game should indicate what you will be doing. In each stage, you will be given boxes to unpack, where you pull out one random item and find a good place to put it. You might have to jump between multiple rooms to place things around properly, but while there is some leniency to how you want to set up your new home, this title can be strangely picky at an inconsistent rate.
It is here where the main problem of Unpacking comes in; it is off in what it expects. There is not enough creative freedom to place things where you want to in order to personalise the rooms, but it is not restricted enough either to create interesting puzzles. Even some items confused me as to why I could not put them in a drawer. The only two exceptions are moments where you are moving in with someone and trying to make space for yourself. These add to tell the protagonist’s story through your interactivity, but since this is not continuously evolved, it is hard to get invested. Especially, when you cannot move on to the next level until everything is placed where the game wants you to.
I will give this project that it is quite relaxing to put the objects around neatly and I do enjoy using limited spaces to find out how to do so. Not to mention, the actual concept is intriguing and I am happy this title did not overstay its welcome by being over within two hours. Unfortunately, there is not much to this repetitious experience outside of what it promotes and the mechanics are too poorly implemented to be engaging, making this at best a game for those new to this media. A solid idea that sadly is too underdeveloped to be fully worth your time.
Gameplay Score: 4/10
There is honestly not much to talk about here when it comes to the presentation. The colours are nice, you will see a lot of varied items, and everything is created through a lovely pixel style. Nothing substantial in the design aspects, but there are some clever visualisations used for storytelling. Some items will have been worn out, others have been repurposed, and even new ones will be added for showcasing what has happened in the protagonist’s life so far. It is all functional, just nothing more interesting or artistic than that, as you will be visiting only traditional homes and apartments throughout this title. It also does not help when your own creativity is limited by the strange restrictions included.
Although, the audio is impressive! The items you pick up come with their own effects for what it would be like to place them on different surfaces, like a bowl on a table or a movie cover on a bed. This is outstanding and it must have been a nightmare to record all of them, but truly adds to the immersion of what you will be doing in the entire playthrough. The ambient sounds are also fitting for conveying life outside of your new homes and the music complements the diverse settings. Most tracks consist of varied guitars to create unique moods, such as rough electric indicating uncertainty, while others can be optimistic tunes of an acoustic one. These are minor details, but shine greatly in this minimalistic project, with the ending song being genuinely heartwarming.
Presentation Score: 6/10
The feng shui is completely ruined!
Despite that they are not the main focus, there are some fun achievements to take on by placing things in specific manners. These reward you with stickers for the photo mode included, but this is a lacklustre addition by not having many effects to play around with and the unlockable icons requiring a specific taste. This provides some meat to the stages by being a creative form of extra objectives, but it is kinda like adding one more meatball to a bowl of spaghetti; appreciated, but not enough.
Extra Score: 5/10
On the one hand, this can be seen as a sweet interactive experience that showcases the joys, frustrations, and special feelings of moving to new places. On the other, it is a slog of a game that can be quite repetitive and underwhelming. It really depends on you as a person and how you approach this media. As one who thinks there is something magical about unpacking and packing down while also wanting to feel like my inputs matter in a playthrough, I am severely mixed on this title.