Unpacking Review — Therapeutic and Storytelling

Silen Audio’s marketing director, Leah Sletzion, shares her experience playing Unpacking and reviews an impressive foley collection.

Unpacking recently launched on November 3rd and I was intrigued. My first impressions of Unpacking was: a cute, stylishly pixelated, time-passing, OCD-friendly game. I love playing home design games so this introduction was perfect with an added, unexpected twist of being a puzzle that unfolds the story of a woman’s life. I slowly started to realize I was playing through an emotional, relatable journey peaking through her eyes as I started going through the progressing years of Unpacking her life.

From the miniature childhood bedroom, where I managed to pile up every plush animal, to the grown-up apartment Witch Beam successfully created a storyline through a tedious task. It’s a unique and non-conventional angle on storytelling, which was unexpected. I also grew attuned to the message and personal representation of materials in life that we leave behind or take with us through our transitions. I grew suspenseful, wanting to learn more about this story (of a faceless, voiceless woman) as each new item was revealed out of the tower of stacked cardboard boxes, all placed randomly in different rooms.

Even though the item placements are set up in a neat puzzle, it’s still pretty flexible and personalized, allowing you to organize and stack items as you please. Unpacking just wont let you throw things around haphazardly or in awkward places (i.e. my toothbrush in my bedside table drawer), but you live and you learn. There’s also an option to change the settings for accessible placements, but just note this may take away the fun puzzle aspect of the game. I find a lot of satisfaction once the rooms are been done up, knowing I’ve found the right place for every item.

Big props towards the collection of foley sounds like the sounds of reverberating and rattling change in a piggy bank, clanking pots and dishes, shackling cutlery, and rolling wood drawers. These everyday objects and movements sound realistic and lure you into an interactive atmosphere, bringing you closer into the room. This ASMR experience gets me picturing the ways that the foley artists recreated these fun, lifelike effects through a combination of imitating and recording the actual object. It’s a sonically entertaining mystery adding a sensory layer to the overall satisfying experience of the game.

The stimulating sounds of different textured surfaces, and diverse audible interactions with a single object results to a collection of more than 14,000 audio .wav files (Santana Mishra of Unpacking explained this on Twitter). The implementation of each sound is subtle, accurate and amplifies the sentimental experience of the puzzle game. There’s much appreciation for their hard work and execution, which was “the result of cumulative months of technical work — recording, editing, layering, and keeping track of multiple spreadsheets — spread out over three years, by Jeff van Dyck’s count.” — Kotaku.

I encourage you to try Unpacking because I’m sure you’ll be charmed. I can’t wait to continue the journey of the life stages in this beautiful indie game to see where it leads and hear more of Unpacking’s nostalgic creation.

Unpacking is available on Xbox(version tested), Nintendo Switch, PC/Steam.