Nobody likes a move. To the changes and the psychological and economic efforts that it entails, we must add a shock wave of lost time and small dramas that lasts for weeks. Unpack, reorder, ask yourself what are you doing with your life with each book you take out of a box and that you know that you are never going to read. ‘Unpacking’ is a magical indie video game that turns that ordeal into fascinating and relaxing fun.
In wonderful rooms with pixelated aesthetics we will have to go emptying boxes from a moving house and placing the objects that we find in the corresponding rooms. At first, our character, a student, will have a few things to put in her room, but soon she will grow up and in successive moves she will have to organize kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and different rooms.
When you have finished unpacking, the game will determine in a very simple and logical way if everything is in its place: the pans cannot be on the floor, nor the computer on the bed. The stuffed animal of a pig constant in all the moves, however, it can be almost anywhere. And that’s it the game does not demand very complicated goals, because all it asks is that we enjoy the singular pleasure of unpacking and order.
The funny thing is that, from an activity that we all consider boring and repetitive, ‘Unpacking’ gives us the almost zen pleasure of organizing objects, but without the inconvenience: you don’t have to clean anything, you don’t have to throw things away, you don’t have to wonder what this does here. All objects are valuable, but at the same time, they are so mundane and recognizable that they force the player, since the pace of the game is so calm, to build their own story about the character that we control through their possessions.
You are what you have
As we unfold which objects this person has kept from previous homes and which ones are new, we create a narrative. The cup to put the toothbrushes, the utensils that are maintained, clothes whose style is evolving. There are subtleties such as couples’ houses that you are going to live with but that have barely left you space to put your things (spoiler: they won’t last long together), and little by little we will create customs. That horrible sandwich maker, to a corner of the kitchen where it is out of the way. Overall, we never use it.
The game has no goals beyond leaving the houses finished, but there is no type of evaluation of the player’s work, who will be surprised by grouping the clothes by color or putting together all the objects related to ‘Ghost World’, because it is what that he would do himself. ‘Unpacking’ ends up permeating the player in the simplest way possible, and reminds us that We play video games to feel like heroes, athletes and adventurers, but also simply other people with lives better or worse.
And all, of course, wrapped in a pixelated aesthetic that not only makes the mechanics exact and precise, but also gives an atmosphere of peaceful stability to everything that reinforces the relaxing intentions of the game. Each object, each piece of furniture is impeccably designed, and the sound design is equally painstaking, with hundreds of prerecorded sounds depending on the materials that collide with each other: that the game is synthetic does not mean that it is sloppy, quite the contrary. BAFTA winner Jeff van Dyck’s soundtrack and abundant accessibility options round out a product designed in detail.
‘Unpacking’ is available for PC, Xbox (on Game Pass), Mac and Nintendo Switch, and has been developed by Witch Beam, study that paradoxically already gave us a game that almost seems the mathematical opposite of this, the double stick shooter ‘Assault Android Cactus +’. A real surprise that shows that the technical muscle is very good, but it is the indies who are willing to reveal The Truths Of The Move.