Game Reviews

Unpacking mobile review - "A lot to unpack in a tiny screen"

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Unpacking mobile review - "A lot to unpack in a tiny screen"

Unpacking can mean a variety of things in itself, and this Zen puzzle game capitalizes on that nostalgic feeling of moving from place to place. I think it's safe to say that all of us, at one point in our lives, have experienced what it's like to pack up our possessions into boxes as we move onward to a new chapter in our lives, but while the game perfectly captures that moment in time in a quirky pixel-art package, is it worth spending time over, especially on mobile?

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There's an undeniable sense of nostalgia that comes with moving from one place to another, especially since we can't always take everything along with us wherever we go. Unpacking complements that melancholy atmosphere with vibrant pixel-art aesthetics, adding to the retro charm of the game. The meditative soundtrack is a welcome accompaniment as well - the relaxing beats offer a truly low-pressure experience as you pop open boxes and rearrange knick-knacks across different rooms over a span of a few years.

Even the many pops and clicks - particularly the hearty pop that emptying a box rewards you with - are incredibly satisfying, and it all adds to that overall sense of accomplishment that you get when you're tidying up your clutter.


That clutter is something you can get rid of by choice, by the way, as the game has a handy accessibility option you can toggle that allows you to leave items scattered every which way. If you're the type who thrives in organized chaos, this feature should serve you well - you can unpack each box and just leave everything on the floor because you're a daredevil.

If you want to make the most of the game's puzzle element, however, you should organize items and set them in specific locations. Silverware, for instance, can't just be thrown onto the bed willy-nilly. You'll need to open up cupboards, slide out drawers, stack books on shelves, and neatly fold your shirts to make sure everything is in its place. Items that shouldn't be where they are will be highlighted as you come to the end of each chapter, and you'll need to find the right place for them before you can move on to the next bit.


This, to me, is a bit of a letdown, as I just want to organize my things the way I want to without worrying about the so-called "correct" answer. While some item locations are obvious (toilet paper should go into the toilet), others can be a little odd and nitpicky. Making sure everything is spic and span then becomes a matter of trial and error, as you'll sometimes struggle with the right spot at the mercy of the unseen protagonist's whims.

Of course, turning off the puzzle element solves this problem, but one of my major gripes with the game is that it just doesn't feel like it's best played on small handheld devices. I initially thought that a drag-and-drop game would be perfect on mobile, but given the tiny nature of some items (others I couldn't even identify), I almost always had to struggle with my finger getting in the way despite the zoom feature. My finger kept obstructing my view when it came to things like spoons and pens (effectively giving me a headache after playing for a while), and I couldn't help but wish there were a mouse cursor I could use instead.

My issues with the touch controls kept me from having the advertised Zen experience, as it was mostly just frustration rather than relaxation. If you manage to power through, though, you'll be rewarded with a poignant story that's told entirely by the things that carry on with every new house move. I won't spoil the narrative for you, but suffice it to say that our possessions really do say a great deal about us and the life we leave behind.

Unpacking mobile review - "A lot to unpack in a tiny screen"

Unpacking does a great job of engaging players with its simple mechanics and short but meaningful story. The mobile port may not be the best way to enjoy the title though, but if you can get past the clunky controls, it's bound to be a unique experience with a pretty feel-good ending to boot.
Catherine Dellosa
Catherine Dellosa
Catherine plays video games for a living, reads comics for inspiration, and writes because she’s in love with words. Her Young Adult fantasy novel, Of Myths And Men, has been published by Penguin Random House SEA and is her love letter to gamer geeks, mythological creatures, aliens, and epic quests to save the world. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. Check out her books at, or follow her on FB/IG/Twitter at @thenoobwife.