Unpacking review: The game that turns hours into minutes

Need a little zen in your life? Unpacking might be for you.

Image via Humble Games

Moving is a task that just about everyone hates. But somehow, Unpacking makes it fun and relaxing.

In Unpacking, the premise is simple; unpack a box of things into one or multiple rooms of a house. It seems simple, but you can tell a lot about a person by the things they have. And as time goes on, a story unfolds. Players will follow someone’s life from childhood until adulthood, with all of the ups and downs that come with growing up and moving on to new things.

When our reviewer first sat down to try Unpacking, it was already getting late. Determined to try the game out for a level or two, it eventually turned into three hours and four completed levels.

The music is incredibly relaxing, and clearing out an entire box gives a feeling of accomplishment. With each box popping closed and disappearing from the screen, it just makes you want to open the next one. It’s like a Pringles can—once you pop boxes open, it’s hard to stop.

GIF via Humble Games

Their one gripe was that the game had opinions about where to put things. When you place something in what the game determines is the “wrong spot,” it will pulse with a red glow until you’ve fixed it. This caused immense frustration, because placing things into what felt like a normal spot would make it glow angrily.

The game wants you to put things in a logical spot, but when space starts getting tight, it can be difficult to figure out where the game wants you to put something. Even things like books, which generally go just about anywhere in a house, can be exasperating to find a spot for.

Another negative for the game for some may be the price. The game only took our reviewer about three hours to finish, and with a $19.99 price tag, that is a steep price for the time you spend in the game.

The only saving grace on the price is that this game is also included in Xbox Game Pass. Buying one month of Game Pass for $9.99 would be worth it if you want to try out this game, plus you get all of the other games included in Game Pass when you’re finished.

That said, our reviewer still loved the game. So did critics in Australia, where it has already won multiple awards, including the 2021 Australian Game Developer Awards Game of the Year.

For those that need a chill game that doesn’t take too much thinking and can be finished in a few hours, Unpacking is the perfect scratch for that itch. It is described as a zen game that has meditative play with no timers or scores.

Unpacking, which is published by Humble Games and developed by Witch Beam, is launching for the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC on Nov. 2.