In addition to our 2021 Major Game Awards, every member of the PC Gamer team has focused on the games they love this year. For the rest of this month, we will release the new employee draft and our main awards.
Moving is obviously one of the most stressful things you can do, but Unpacking turns this life event—in fact a few of them—into an incredibly relaxing experience. There are not many games that really caught my attention this year, and I certainly didn’t expect this cute little indie game from developer Witch Beam to attract my attention. But within a few minutes after being introduced to my first comfortable bedroom, I fell in love with this organizational puzzle game.
You play the invisible protagonist in all kinds of moves, from their first bedroom in childhood to adulthood. The game spans more than two decades. During that time, the only clue to your character’s identity is through the items you take out of the carefully packaged box in every subsequent action.
As the years go by and the house develops, you will naturally expand to more rooms, and eventually, you will have the whole house to be unpacked. Your belongings have also become richer, and you must learn to share your space with other people, from roommates to co-living partners. Everything has a place, even when you look at the room where you have to work, the amount of things you accumulate between moves initially seems to be overwhelming.
With every step you take, you will learn which items are precious—whether it is a stuffed animal that has been with you since childhood, or a model of the Eiffel Tower, perhaps a reminder of a school trip or a romantic weekend vacation. That’s how it is; you don’t get any background information. When you open these items, you can create a history of these items yourself.
This is not something the game forces you to do—you can treat it as a clinical, organized simulation game if you want—but you may find yourself thinking about these objects and their sources. That teddy bear that you have been carrying since childhood? When you and your partner move in, it may make sense to push it into the cabinet. But because you obviously have a kind of attachment to it, it has a place in the bed-anyway, in my game.
Not all big and important things. Random fridge magnets and dubiously cheesy holiday memorabilia help shape the character’s personality, and you need to find locations for his items time and time again.
The sound of opening the box and the slight rustling of packaging materials when opening each item can even make people feel satisfied. When you flip through socks and pajamas, plush toys, and books, you will be rewarded for the noise made when the box is emptied and flattened.
The location where you place your items depends primarily on you, at least to a certain extent. Some things have special requirements for their placement. Obviously, your keyboard needs to keep a certain distance from your PC, we don’t want to be Neanderthals here. But in most cases, you can have a lot of fun where you think your things should go. If you want to get rid of any placement restrictions, there is a setting in the accessibility options menu that allows you to completely get rid of the puzzle element.
Unpacking satisfies the need to organize-even if you are not in real life-and allows you to use your inner impulse to store your things where you think reasonable. This is a way to leave a mark on the initially plain living space. Although you wouldn’t think there are so many different ways of placing items in a room, I have seen surprising changes in some different screenshots of other players.
Unpacking is one of the coolest games I have played this year. Although you can complete it in a few hours, the time it takes to organize your home the way you want is really cathartic. Who knew that moving can be so easy?