RWP – Unpacking (Week 7)

For this week’s game, we played Unpacking. Unpacking is cozy puzzle video game developed by Witch Beam that can be played on various platforms, such as Windows, macOS, and console devices. The puzzles were all about unpacking and placing items in isometric rooms, much like how we unpack items when we move to new places.

As a detail-oriented person, this game was mostly relaxing and decently satisfying for me to play. There was only one mechanic to the puzzles: you just had to click and drag items out of a box into a pre-designated space in the room. When I first played the game, I thought it literally was a game where you can place items anywhere but soon came to realize that there was a space for all of the items to go. In my opinion, this made the game much less cozy and a little more stressful as I felt like my perspectives on where certain items went were being forcefully denied. However, when I looked up the game and saw that it was supposed to be a puzzle, I was less bothered by it and thought the game was quite fun to play.

I also enjoyed the art of the game. The isometric angle of each room was a nice game design decision as we were able to look into spaces of a room that might have been hard to view otherwise. In addition, the brightness of the colors and the art style being pixel art added to the fun and lighthearted aspect of the game. Overall, the art design was aesthetic and nostalgic, which complements the theme of moving and seemingly mindless yet light unpacking.

My favorite part of the game was the embedded narrative in the game. Through each item that is being unpacked in various levels, you unpack the life and personality of the person who inhabits the room. Each level portrays the passage of time in the person’s life, from being in their childhood room, to a college dorm room, to a full apartment. For each room, we see both new and old items which further signify what stage of life the person is in, while also understanding what the person values over a long period of time. For example, both the soccer ball and stuffed pig are unpacked in multiple levels and represents perhaps an nostalgic memory. In a way, seeing how their room changes makes the game feel more intimate and personal with the person we are unpacking for.

Overall, I would rate Unpacking a solid 8/10. I could see myself playing the game when I need to unwind or when I have downtime, like on a long flight. However, due to the forced aspect of placing objects, I could also see myself getting bored after I finish the last level. Although there isn’t much I would change, a personal wish of mine would be if there was a game mode where I could just choose an isometric room and decorate it with random objects of my own volition, instead of just having to play each puzzle over again.

About the author


  1. Hi Jenny,

    I really enjoyed reading your review of Unpacking! Your detailed analysis of the game mechanics and art design was spot-on. I appreciate how you highlighted the isometric design and pixel art, as they truly add to the nostalgic and visually appealing aspects of the game.

    I also resonate with your feelings about the forced placement of items. While it can be a bit restrictive, understanding it as a puzzle element does make it more acceptable. Your suggestion for a free-play mode where players can decorate rooms as they please is fantastic—I think it would add a lot of value to the game.

    The embedded narrative you described, where each unpacked item reveals more about the inhabitant’s life, sounds incredibly engaging. It adds a personal and intimate layer to the game that makes it much more than just a simple puzzle game.

    Overall, your review was both informative and enjoyable to read. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  2. Hi Jenny,

    I also thought the game was pretty relaxing and cute. I agree that the puzzle element made it more stressful. I wonder if that component of the game was even necessary.

    I thought the art was really nice in the game and I also liked the small look into our main character’s life through the items we unpack. I feel like this game is more of a one time play for me, but I see the appeal.

  3. I like how you touch on the art direction and the pleasant isometric design. I’ve seen more games in the cozy genre take on similar aesthetics and I find it pretty nice! I do agree that several games tend to blend interior decorating and puzzling as a natural pair when I’m not so sure the wires need to be crossed, or at least attention to the gameplay formed by it versus player expectations should be clear and careful. The hiccups in Unpacking aren’t enough to ruin the experience for me either, but it’s certainly worth considering in future games that build off similar concepts.

  4. I think it’s actually really interesting that the difference in framing massively changed your impression of the game. As in, when you thought you were completely free to put things wherever, you were happy. Learning that you couldn’t made you sad. But learning that you were supposed to not be able to because it’s a puzzle made you happy again. I never really thought of it that way but when I think about it, that type of framing matters a lot to games. When people sign on to play say, Dark Souls, they know they’re going for some type of challenging action RPG, and by voluntarily preparing themselves for a “challenge” it mitigates a lot of the criticism and sort of gives the game immunity to a bunch of different critiques. Thanks for the review.

  5. Hi Jenny! I’m interested in your comment about initially being frustrated by the forced placement of certain objects, then feeling better about it once you looked up the game and realized it was meant to be a puzzle– I felt the same way, and it makes me wonder whether going into this game primarily expecting it to be a puzzle game rather than a cozy game would have impacted our overall experience of it from the beginning. Also, you make a great suggestion about having a free play mode! This game seems like it could be fun to replay from a creative expression angle, but from a puzzle angle, once you’ve solved each puzzle there’s not much reason to play it again.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.