Unpacking | PAX Online 2020 Preview

Packing up your life and transitioning it somewhere new can be an exciting experience, but also a momentous task filled with strenuous work and anxiety– Australia based indie studio Witch Beam Games transforms the negative weight of moving your memories into a peaceful journey through snapshots in time. No stranger to puzzle games or cozy experiences, Unpacking seemed be giving off the vibes I was ready to unbox for myself.

The gameplay and premise of Unpacking are simple and straightforward, but that doesn’t diminish how powerful and relaxing their subtle and direct gameplay and aesthetic carry you forward. The tasks are what you would expect, removing objects from cardboard boxes one by one as you decorate your new digs. Pointing and clicking to drag the items you unload across to bookshelves or closets to make this new space your own. The idea of the game may sound basic, but the nuance given by the items selected coupled with the perfectly pronounced sound effects and underlying chilled tunes form an amalgam of serenity that I desperately yearn for in games looking to transport you to a state of zen.

Every item pulled from the heaps of crumpled newspapers unraveled something about this character that the wordless narrative was sewing. My mind was constantly marveling at what would reveal itself next. A plush cat? Or maybe a device resembling a Tamagotchi? Each click of the box was just as rewarding as the last even if it was just a pile of forks that I sorted those into the kitchen drawer.

Each segment of the game is denoted by the year of the move, followed by piles of boxes in a new setting. The demo only revealed two of these homes, but the belongings in the subsequent location only brought a small portion of the possessions of the past. Even if the story never delves too deep into what comes and goes as your progress, I’m sure hidden within will be some meaning behind what is kept and what is left.

For what was available to play during the PAX Online demo, there was enough to show me that Unpacking has the potential to be a must-play cozy game. No timers, no points or score to keep track of, just fulfilling gameplay and perfected sound and art design. Unpacking takes everything monotonous and unappealing about uprooting your life, and creates a satisfyingly wholesome trip through someone’s memories. I cannot wait to dive back into those cardboard boxes and discover the cozy vibes awaiting.

If you’re interested in Unpacking be sure to show the developer Witch Beam Games some love on Twitter and wishlist the game on Steam. For all things Unpacking, PAX Online, and indie game related, be sure to keep it locked to Pass The Controller. For a deeper dive on all things gaming and nerd culture, listen to the Pass The Controller Podcast with new episodes weekly on your favorite podcast platform. Want to continue the conversation with us and our community? Join our official Discord server.

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