Let this relaxing indie puzzle game wash away all your stress and anxiety. It’s a simple game about a character who moves through different houses throughout their lives. The goal of the game is to unpack the boxes and help organize and decorate their home. Not only are you unpacking boxes, but you are also unpacking wholesome belongings the character carries throughout the years. You help the character unpack different stages of their lives, from childhood to adulthood to starting a family! And not just you can also watch as the character goes through the struggles of being an independent individual.
Every time the character moves, they write a one-sentence summary of their thoughts about moving to a certain home in their journal. You can help them be more creative in their journal by collecting colorful and awarding stickers throughout the game! A few possessions around these houses are clickable and emit cute little sounds. You can even listen to music through the speakers and TV and play games on the character’s pc! These random tappable items are how you are awarded the stickers for collecting.
But did you know that this award-winning game is based on real-life unpacking? The game developer from a small independent company in Brisbane, Australia named Witch Beam, Tim Dawson, thought of the game while moving in with his girlfriend, Wren Brier. The latter is also a game artist and designer. As you go into the game, using your imagination, you can make believe a story you think the game conveyed. If you are someone creative-minded, then the sentences the character leaves with every milestone will help you shape a unique life story for the unknown persona. Unpacking is a zen game, and the charming pixel art style is nostalgic and adorable.
The game is playable three times per every journal the character owns. Every game played is similar, but depending on which room you decide to take a picture of, a different sentence appears. Unpacking spans 21 years and 8 stages, starting with the main character’s childhood bedroom and progressing through each new home they move into throughout their life. Players of this chill game are given a lot of flexibility as to how they want to arrange the persona’s home. With its zen environment and loving atmosphere, Unpacking stands as a reminder of how special the things that are often considered prosaic can genuinely be.
In the first stage of Unpacking, when starting a new game, the main character moves into a room of their own for the first time, giving them the freedom to make the space their own. The year is 1997, and many of the most popular 90s toys are to be unpacked, like the Tamagotchi and Troll doll. They have a souvenir of a red double-decker bus from London and a collection of soft toys that follow them throughout their life. The character’s interest in art and gaming stands out with their Game Boy and art supplies. In 2004, the persona of Unpacking moved away from home for the first time, attaining a dorm with a private bathroom for their first year at university. After graduating from university and earning a degree, the character moves into an apartment with two roommates in 2007. For the first time, the players must find space for the character’s personal possessions in a home that’s already filled with things as they get settled into their new living situation. Then the character moves in with their partner in 2010, and players must find space in the partner’s city apartment. Unfortunately, after their break up, the character moves out in 2012 and returns to their childhood home. In 2013, the character started fresh and independently moved into their apartment. Rather than unpacking the main character’s belongings again in 2015, players are commissioned to unpack their new partner’s things as they move in with the main character. In the final chapter of Unpacking in 2018, the main character and their partner have bought a house and have begun building a family together. There seems to be a baby on the way, and they have a nursery to unpack. In the last photograph of the indie game, the happy couple can be seen sitting in their garden together with their baby. The main character plays the ukulele for her family as they watch the sunset together.
Unpacking constructs a beautiful story of hope, hurt, and healing as players follow the main character through the major changes in their life. The game uses subtle storytelling through gameplay to exude what it truly means to make a home.
This article was a contribution by a guest writer – Talar Artinian.
Thank you for this amazing piece!