The delightfully cozy world of “Unpacking”
Anchor Staff Writer
Settle down and indulge in the delightfully cozy world of Witch Beam’s “Unpacking.” Be prepared to curl up and join an endearing main character on her quest to find out where she belongs.
The 2021 release “Unpacking” was developed by Witch Beam, an indie video game team with a talent for storytelling. Despite its simplicity as a puzzle game and unpacking simulator, the game conveys a wholesome narrative via small details.
The protagonist of “Unpacking” remains anonymous and yet the player gets to know her and her loved ones over a span of 21 years. Beginning in 1997, the game opens to the young girl’s first bedroom in a new home, where the player is quickly tasked with putting away her belongings. It is truly a puzzle as every nook and cranny must be filled with toys, clothes and intricate pieces of her life.
The difficulty of the game is far from button-mashing, but offered through strategy and attention to detail. Polaroids pinned to cork-boards and the designs drawn on graphic T-shirts are the player’s guide to the narrative at hand as “Unpacking” is uniquely without dialogue.
Comfort can be found in the game’s eight levels as the main character conquers moving into college, then onto having an apartment of her own with dear friends. The player witnesses the protagonist’s first love, but a rift is already seen in their relationship through their opposite interests: His belongings within their apartment are rather refined in style while her artistic personality is full of whimsy and passion.
Our main character returns home to replenish after heartbreak only to set out again, finally finding independence in an apartment of her own.
This new apartment is teeming with warmth as the game’s point of view switches to our main character’s newfound partner. It is now your responsibility to help her girlfriend move in and watch as their relationship blossoms. The gameplay finalizes with the player moving the pair into their new home and assisting them with their growing family.
“Unpacking” is not only a puzzle game in the literal sense of fitting things together, but a scattered story that the player must snap into place. The simple, yet adorable art style is colorful and inviting, providing a pleasing visual experience that prevents the player from becoming overwhelmed.
The soundtrack impeccably captures that classic 8-bit feel with undertones to suggest what the main character is feeling during the various stages of her life played throughout the game.
My only complaint is how short “Unpacking” was. The incredible Witch Beam team successfully fit an entire lifetime into only five hours of gameplay that left me wanting more. What would come of our zany protagonist and her partner? My curiosity is still unending.
If you are in search of a feel-good experience I cannot suggest this wholesome indie title enough. It is a marvel with ingenious implied storytelling told without ever seeing a character. Available on all platforms, unwind and traverse a life boxed in cardboard with “Unpacking.”