Unpacking – A Colorful Game About Moving In

Unpacking is an isometric puzzle game by Witch Beam, an Australian developer, published by our very own sponsor Humble Bundle. You are a third-person clicker, looking down into an empty room with a stack of boxes sitting in the middle of the floor. There’s no direction or impetus, but as you open the box, intuition sets in, and you start to place objects from here and there. Before you know it, you’re an artisanal thing mover. You may take solace in a simulation of this if you’re particularly neat, or simply like no-pressure puzzles. The game starts off in the year 1997, then soon 2004. Certainly, there are enough years on the timeline to keep you busy! But no rush, nor absence of themes. When you play Unpacking, you’ll have plenty of time to put things as you like.

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, macOS, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

Getting Started With Unpacking

A keyboard and mouse, or controller, both work fine in Unpacking. When you start off in what appears to be a young person’s either bedroom or dorm, you can place your books, toys, supplies, and other knick snacks on shelves, desks, closets, drawers, beds, or even the floor. It doesn’t really matter too much how you arrange things, but when the boxes are empty, the game will give you red borders around whatever should be placed somewhere more thoughtful. It’s almost as if there is a right way, even though there isn’t. They’re not mutually exclusive in Unpacked.

Personally, I loved the bright colors and chill music in Unpacked. And even though I wondered if I’d have the patience for a game about keeping things neat, I understood what they were going for here. The fact that I could arrange the stuffed animals on the bunk above the owner’s desk just seemed mindful and right.

Here are some screenshots of the game.

Features of Unpacking

From the Witch Beam press pack:

  • “Unpack a home โ€” from a single bedroom to an entire house”
  • “Meditative gameplay with no timers, meters or scores”
  • “Explore domestic environments with all their nooks and crannies while you stack plates, hang towels, and arrange bookshelves”
  • “Discover a character’s story through the items that come with her to each new home (and the items that get left behind)”
  • “Soundtrack by BAFTA award-winning composer and audio director Jeff van Dyck”
  • Personally observed features: Just endlessly fun to experiment with and look at!

How This Game Feels

The devs used something they knew about personal space maintenance that seems almost educational or motivational but is full of minute, yet pleasant, surprises. Does the diary belong on the bookcase, or in a drawer? Watch the video above if you want to find out. Or pick it up for yourself.

Everything you need to know about this game is already here for you, so if you are feeling into this one, please support a number of great folks behind this game, and pick it up here, there, or over there!

Thanks for Stopping By

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The Gunk – Not Really Sure What This Is But It’s Fun

Discovered through Game Pass, I’m rather fond of this new title, The Gunk, from Image and Form/Thunderful Development, which just launched a few days ago. It fits neatly into the category of games I usually enjoy which are casual character development, soft sci-fi, and familiar mechanics of resource-collecting games. And this version of those styles is well presented here. While the game is really very straightforward without much need for introduction, a quality I appreciate, I’ll share some highlights on my experience playing through the first few areas plus what you should know about this game.

The Gunk: The Funk

I might note some various games and movies because there are elements of my geek lexicon that are scattered throughout The Gunk. To begin with, the story is about a descent into an alien world from a hovering ship, with two friends that are looking for materials to haul for trade, or more accurately scrape by. After a little exploration, they discover the planet they are on is a feast of tradeable materials that, if they discover the mystery of, will most likely go further in making them rich. It’s got a Starlord feel for sure, or Rae–I don’t know it’s space harvesting, practically its own archetype now. After that, you craftily explore mines, caverns, and contained areas to collect materials that are energy sources for their operations.

This storyline is not a storyline as much as a guided tour through a planet. There is some casual character development of the two friends who work this operation along with their robot. There is, however, some background given in the levels I played as the characters communicate with each other over radio, a neat way to keep things relevant but also on track.

Visual Styles in The Gunk

I think it’s unlikely that The Gunk is to any extreme a borrower of style from games I can think of, but it does remind me quite pleasantly of an indie game I played called Twin Stones. The primary similarity though is design, not gameplay. The worlds combine scaling chasms and lush green platforms in a similar way, and it is very welcoming to casual play. It’s something new, but also a style I can pick up and play straight away. So, it’s familiar, basically.

Aside from the environment, the particle effects, whether it’s the rock scanner or heaps of pink gunk–in The Gunk–are very clean and cool in the usual sci-fi way. The harvesting vacuum reminds me Slime Rancher. We’re talking about a whole different experience here, but it’s nice to see fun mechanics getting revived whatever their origin might be. I compare in only an admirer’s way. I still think there is some other game I’m thinking of here but I really have no idea, so kudos to the devs.

Out Now

The Gunk is out now for free with a Game Pass subscription. It’s certainly worth your time and it is so in a way where even if you just play the first few areas, it’s a nice traditional romp in space game for all kinds of players. (There is a very slight presence of mature language, but it seems to be minimal.)

You might want to play more though, for which I give the green light all the way. I have taken a look at some areas further into the game and there is no shortage of adventure and creativity. If you’d like to play this you can find it on Microsoft at https://www.xbox.com/en-us/games/store/the-gunk/9P008L2LS87F

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