If I had to describe a game to you that had no hero or villain, no shooting or dungeon crawling or any real time strategy or quick time events would you dear reader have raised eyebrows? Or how about a game that had none of these and is all based around moving house (one of the most stressful things you can do). Moving house multiple times over many years in fact. Then the game we have is Unpacking which is not only the opposite of what you expect and is actually a relaxing and therapeutic experience but one of the best games of 2021. I have just finished the Game Pass version and it is an utter delight and really something unique.
Story and Characters
A very simple story, you play a character that looks to be female who is moving house over different periods in her life. The beauty of the story is that all you need to know of this faceless and nameless vessel you play as is found in her teddy bears, books and retro games consoles which follow her everywhere she lays her metaphorical hat. You could even call her cuddly companions characters in the game as they are faithfully always tucked in bed or being skilfully positioned on a table; keeping watch and giving the player a reminder of their childhood memories.
The sole purpose is to unpack all your belongings out of cardboard boxes and put them away tidily till the level is complete. You have such a random assortment of items to go through and you must place them in their respective rooms such as the lounge, the bathroom and kitchen. There is no time limit to worry about so you can take your time and unwind in the kitsch millennial wilderness of Gamecube consoles and old DVDs. This is single player only and that is exactly the point. You get a feeling of closeness to this person and everything feels familiar. You simply use the controllers left stick and pick up items with a press of the A button and just drag and press again to place it down. Nothing complicated; good times. The only troublesome aspect of the gameplay is when you cant find a place for one little item and no matter where you put it you cannot pass the level.
The graphics are deliberately low resolution but very colourful. If I can make a vague description it looks as though the pixels have been knitted together- especially with the items of clothing you need to find storage for. There are lots of little achievement Easter eggs to hunt for. When I was trying to obtain some Game pass quests I needed just one achievement from any game and I discovered that if I completed a Rubicks cube puzzle successfully I got a 10g gamer-score. I was very happy about that and a little attention to detail that makes you feel fuzzy and nostalgic all over again. As one who used to hate the real puzzle that was incredibly satisfying.
To summarise, Unpacking is a game that is hard to review, it needs to be experienced for yourself but I can guarantee if you want a 15 minute play though of something that isn't going to get you angry and is very easy to pick up and play then give this a go.
Superb, simple gameplay that anyone can pick up
Colourful and charming
Something different that stands out from the crowd
Controls can be a little fiddly