Knowing I enjoy casual puzzle games, my youngest recommended UNPACKING. The idea of unpacking boxes and put things away sounded pretty boring. After all, I’ve done that in real life more than fifteen times since I turned 18 (I’m in my 50s now).
But that’s what Try-It Tuesdays are for. I tried UNPACKING and I got hooked. The “puzzle” part of the game involves figuring out what each object is, where it belongs in the home, and how to fit those items into the available shelves, drawers and cabinets.
More than a puzzle game, though, it tells the story of a young woman through the stages of her life, as we unpack her childhood bedroom, college dorm, first apartment and so on. I won’t give away all of the locations, as part of the fun is discovering where life takes her.
There’s a bit of a voyeuristic thrill to the game. Like looking into someone’s medicine cabinet during a party or reading someone’s junior-high diary, players are handling someone’s most personal possessions, from underwear to stuffed animals to travel souvenirs. We get a very intimate glimpse into her personality, hopes, dreams and struggles.
UNPACKING was developed by Witch Beam and released in November 2021. I played on my Windows 10 laptop but the game is also available on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.
Though UNPACKING is rated “E” for everyone and has a colorful art style, it’s not a game for young children. Players need to be able to identify such items as tampons or cooking tools, and infer the “story” of the game from the objects and locations, so I recommend parents play along with children under 12.
~ J.L. Hilton
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