For the last few days I’ve found that when I’m not working through Halo or Call of Duty Battle Passes I’ve been chilling out and opening boxes in a virtual home. Unpacking, from developer Witch Beam, is one of those games that doesn’t try to push the player into anything taxing, apart from unpacking boxes, and in doing so made the game into another perfect little distraction from my usual fare.
The concept is simple: you’ve moved into a new “home” and you need to unpack your possessions and put them away. Some have specific locations such as a desk or the bathroom while others you can be more flexible with. Controls are of the click and move variety with you having to open boxes, move the contents out until they are empty, then dispose of the boxes. Once the boxes are emptied and all the contents are correctly stored away, some items do need to go in the “right place”, you’ve completed your job and you move forward a few years into the future and start unpacking again.
There is a little bit of a story here but it’s more interpreted from the items that you are unpacking and not from a driven narrative. You’ll see that travel mementos have increased, collections have changed or personal items get updated to reflect that changing age. It’s just enough for a player to get an understanding of the person and where they may be at that particular point in life. And you can’t help get some “virtual nostalgia” when opening a box to find something that’s been kept over the years, from home to home.
Visually it’s got a 16bit pixel art vibe which combined with the isometric viewpoint gives you a good understanding of the spaces you’re working in and where items can be placed. Everything is brightly coloured and easy to identify and for the smaller items there’s a zoom feature if you need to get a little closer. The audio tracks fit the mood nicely and reinforce the relaxation side of the gameplay.
The game is available to play on xCloud through Game Pass Ultimate and I hope they consider adding touch controls because the game may be even better that way, though there is some precision when it comes to placement of items. Regardless of that Unpacking is a great game to play during downtime and worth a look.
Unpacking is out now for PC, Switch and Xbox. Played on an Xbox Series X via Game Pass.