RWP 2024 – Unpacking (Phuc)

I got the chance to play Unpacking this quarter.

For those who aren’t too familiar with Unpacking, Unpacking is a cozy puzzle game developed by Witch Beam and published by Humble Games. Unpacking is available on several platforms including PC (Windows, macOS), and console (Xbox, Playstation, Switch). The game’s premise centers around the act of unpacking and organizing a series of household items within different living spaces. As players progress through the game, they unpack items from boxes and arrange them in various rooms, telling the story of a character’s life journey through the objects they keep and the spaces they inhabit. Each level represents a significant move in the character’s life, from a childhood bedroom to college dorms, shared apartments, and eventually more settled living arrangements.

From the start, Unpacking captivates with its charming pixel art style and soothing soundtrack. The visuals are detailed and evocative, making each room feel lived-in and authentic. The first level, set in a child’s bedroom, is filled with nostalgic items like stuffed animals, books, and posters. These items not only serve as clues to the character’s interests and personality but also evoke a sense of nostalgia for the player. As I progressed, I found myself becoming increasingly invested in the character’s life story, inferred solely through the objects they carry from place to place.

One of the aspects that stood out to me was how Unpacking uses visual storytelling to create an emotional connection without a single line of dialogue. Each item you unpack has a story and a history, from cherished childhood toys to professional tools and personal mementos. For instance, unpacking a photograph in the new home can evoke memories of the past locations where it was displayed, creating a sense of continuity and change. This method of storytelling is subtle yet powerful, making you feel like you are piecing together the character’s life puzzle with each item placed.

Playing Unpacking also provided a meditative and relaxing experience. The simple act of arranging items in their appropriate places, deciding where things fit best, and making the new space feel like home is incredibly satisfying. The game’s pace is unhurried, allowing you to take your time and enjoy the process. There’s no time limit or score to worry about, which enhances the relaxing nature of the game. It’s just you, the boxes, and the quiet joy of organizing. The only stressful element was playing it next to Jenny since she would question my placement at times, haha…

Additionally, Unpacking effectively captures the emotional weight of moving and the bittersweet nature of change. Each level represents a new chapter in the character’s life, marked by both excitement and loss. The game subtly portrays the ups and downs of life’s transitions, making you reflect on your own experiences with moving and change. I found myself reminiscing about my own moves, the items I chose to keep, and the memories they hold. This particularly hit home since its my senior year and I will soon have to move.


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  1. It’s great to hear about your experience with Unpacking, Phuc! Your review beautifully captures the essence of the game and its unique approach to storytelling. The way Unpacking uses objects to convey the character’s life story without any dialogue is truly remarkable, and your description highlights how powerful and emotional this method can be.

    The game’s charming pixel art and soothing soundtrack seem to create an immersive and nostalgic experience. Your reflection on the personal connection you felt while unpacking and arranging items adds a layer of depth to your review. It’s clear that the game resonated with you on a personal level, especially with your own upcoming move as a senior.

    The meditative and relaxing nature of Unpacking is one of its standout features, and your comment about playing it next to Jenny adds a fun, relatable touch. The absence of time limits or scores allows players to fully immerse themselves in the process, making the experience both satisfying and reflective.

    Your insights into the emotional weight of moving and the bittersweet nature of change are particularly poignant. Unpacking seems to capture these feelings beautifully, making players reflect on their own life transitions and the memories associated with their belongings.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughtful review! It provides a wonderful glimpse into what makes Unpacking such a special and impactful game. Good luck with your own move, and I hope you find the same sense of satisfaction and reflection in organizing your new space!

  2. I enjoyed hearing you touch on the meditative and introspective atmosphere that Unpacking and games like it can instill. Allowing it that room and headspace is the best way to engage with the game and get the most out of it, in my opinion. And as you mentioned, the stories associated with belongings is often a powerful one, and really intriguing in the way that it mirrors real life.

  3. Hi Phuc! I adore your discussion of Unpacking’s visual details as a mode of storytelling– I didn’t play far enough into the game to get a feel for that myself, but your account of it makes me want to continue playing the game just to see for myself. Your mention of the bittersweet feeling that comes with that sense of continuity and change also makes me wonder how that modifies the appeal of a cozy game; while it seems like an effective storytelling device in and of itself, I worry such a story would make me too sad to feel properly cozy!

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