Unpacking reveals an engaging story one box at a time.

Puzzle games are not necessarily known to have a heart. They are mostly known to have one objective, fitting all the blocks or eliminating all the colors to move on to the next level. No one will ever accuse Tetris or Klax of having heart and soul. Unpacking utilizes the familiar event of unpacking the boxes containing your life in a new space to tell the story of a young woman as she matures from a high school student to an adult.

Unpacking’s puzzle mechanics do a great job of recreating the feeling of trying to find the perfect place to put everything. As in real-life, you will quickly realize that there isn’t as much space as you thought there was. As a result, you will end up putting things wherever you can to get the boxes emptied. The game excels in the freedom that it gives the player put things however they like, with only key items being tied to specific locations in the room that you are unpacking. Someone was watching Marie Kondo when they were developing this game.

The brilliance of Unpacking is in the story that it tells. The insight that you get about this young woman as she starts as a teenager is amazing. Just from unpacking her belongings, you see her transition from a teenager straddling adolescence, to a freshman college student, to moving in with her boyfriend and beyond. The emotional reaction that Unpacking can elicit is just phenomenal.

In my experience, it takes a talented team to tell an engaging story without words. For this very reason, the first few mins in Disney/Pixar UP is some of the best storytelling that I’ve ever seen in cinema. Very similar to their cinema counterparts, videogames can be elevated (or devalued) based on the quality of their storytelling. Storytelling is a vital part of many game genres like RPGs, FPSs, and the action platformer. No one ever expects an engaging story to come from a puzzle game. This is why Unpacking was an unexpected joy to play.

Information about Unpacking can be found at www.unpackinggame.com.

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