Análise de Unpacking | Voxel

In the 1990s, it was unusual to see games that strayed from the standard of genres like platform, fighting, hack and slash and beat ’em up, so it was a relief to find a title like Harvest Moon could exist in those times. Taking care of a farm, planting seeds, raising animals and forming friendships was nothing like what we were used to and maybe that’s why it was a real breath of fresh air in the industry. And this was also a path of no return for many players who felt saturated and became interested in increasingly different and creative games.

Even if you don’t see big AAA titles coming out of your comfort zone today, you can always count on independent studios to get the feeling that a mere farm game created 25 years ago. One of the more recent examples of this is Unpacking, whose premise is to unpack your belongings after a move and organize the items through the rooms of the new house. Although it seems like something simple, it doesn’t take long to see that complexity, fun gameplay and exciting storytelling don’t need as many distracting devices and can only depend on a good idea well executed.

a box of surprises

Unpacking it’s not the type of game that relies on beatings, so right away the player is greeted in a room with some boxes on the floor that need to be opened. There is no notice or text giving information about who the character is, so it’s totally reliant on the context of the room and the objects found to fill in these details.

Therefore, it soon becomes clear that the protagonist is a child trying to organize his toys in a tight space. From there, creativity reigns most of the time. You can place most items wherever you want, with the exception of certain items that need to be kept in specific compartments, such as a diary that must be hidden in a drawer.

The first phases teach the main mechanics without interrupting your gameplayThe first stages teach the main mechanics without interrupting gameplay.Source: Witch Beam/Disclosure

With the organization work done, the player is taken to the same character’s next residence, always after a long time since the last time. The result is saved in a very special way in a photo album that marks the years of these changes, carried out between 1997 and 2018.

unpacking a life

In each new house, the player discovers rooms and objects, but not always find a completely free place, after all, the protagonist ends up sharing the house with people who already have their own furniture scattered around the place. The interesting thing is that the subtlety of the narrative continues throughout all the years with the character, but it is possible to understand exactly what is happening in each moment of her life, whether good news or bad.

With the addition of new spaces, such as bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms, the task of unpacking and organizing also becomes more complex. It’s totally natural to find objects like toilet paper in the dishes and cutlery boxes, for example, so you have to go back and forth between rooms to put everything in the right place. This is something that some players may find irritating, as is the fact that you can spend some time not knowing where the game wants you to place specific objects, something that happens a lot in the kitchen and bathroom.

It will not always be possible to have the space just for your protagonist, especially when you live with other peopleIt will not always be possible to have the space just for the protagonist, especially when she lives with other people.Source: Witch Beam/Disclosure

There’s even an accessibility option that lets you leave objects anywhere, but it’s worth saying that the need to place some items in specific places is one of the ways the game tells the story in a more effective and natural way. This is pretty obvious when you need to hide certain items in a more advanced section of the game, even though it takes a few minutes to understand that this is what you really need to do.

Packed nostalgia

Only a few hours long, Unpacking manages to engage while being very relaxing as it only requires clicking on the boxes to remove the items and then deciding where to put them. The soundtrack and visuals contribute a lot to this experience, which even gives a sense of nostalgia as you unpack your whole life from someone who is known merely for their personal belongings.

Subtly, each new house tells you exactly what is necessary about what is happening with the protagonistSubtly, each new house says what is necessary about what is happening with the protagonist.Source: Witch Beam/Disclosure

Available on Xbox, Switch, PC and Game Pass consoles, Unpacking it has its little flaws here and there, but it’s still one of those games that pop up surprisingly every now and then as a breath of fresh air to remind you that games can be more creative and don’t need as much to be fun.

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