Why hello there. We’re here to talk about Unpacking (capital U), a lovely video game which Rachel picked for our RPS Game Club this month.
Rachel, what made you choose Unpacking?
Heya! Yes we are here! For me, Unpacking is one of my favourite games that’s only a handful of hours long so I thought choosing it for Game Club would be the perfect choice!
Also I love games about tidying haha
It is short, isn’t it? But it stays with you a while. Do you replay it much? I have a couple of times, but I find I don’t really change up how I organise my unpacked houses haha
It really does! I have played it a couple of times but I’m the same as you, I find myself putting things in the exact same places as I did the first time. Have you seen the Unpacking speedrunning category where you need to successfully place all the objects in the wrong places? It’s great.
I haven’t! Like, you have to put the forks in the bedroom and the stuffed toys in the toilet kind of thing? That’s a great idea.
Do you have a favourite move? Cos I definitely do.
It’s called Dark Star mode and many of the speedrunners just chuck everything on the floor, highly recommend folks watch a video of it
Ooo that’s a tough one, I really like the move with the college friends (or just her friends in general?). The flat is so colourful and full of fun objects. How about you?
I love that one too – I love that one of them is a Sailor Moon cosplayer and has a half-finished outfit in the living room and stuff.
I think my favourite is the move after the one you wrote about here – no spoilers, but Rachel’s article discusses what is probably the most impactful moment in the game. And the move after that I was like “Yes girl! We’re putting your little London bus model right on the coffee table! We’re stacking our glasses wherever we want! We’re putting up posters!”
Yes!! That moment is so important, it’s like she gets her independence back. It’s such a visceral reaction and so surprising because going in I just assumed the game would be laid-back and cosy.
The little models of all the places she’s been and how she continues to add to her collection over the course of the game is such a cool detail. Do you have any favourite details like that?
I’ve had Rachel’s article on the brain because it coincided with my own partner moving in with me, and I own greyscale furniture and loads of gadgets and a bass guitar. So my entire personality these past two weeks have been “Trying desperately not to be the boyfriend from Unpacking”
Rachel Watts says: Do you have any favourite details like that?
This is super specific but when you’re unpacking into the dorm room at university one of the DVDs is designed in a way that you can tell it’s a copy of Ghost World, which I thought was really cute.
Hi James! You don’t have copper kitchenware too, do you? haha
I bet James has at least one Le Crueset pan
I love stacking the DVDs – it’s so satisfying. I also love the little ‘snap’ as the magnets connect to to fridge.
pete says: I guess it would be more work and less cosy to have run it longer to later in life, but would have hit harder for it
Oh, like doing a version of the start of Up, kinda? Yeah I can see that. And I’d have loved more levels, but I also kind of like that it ended with a sort of happy ending, you know? Like on the last level when you realise there’s a new room that wasn’t there before, that’s really cute.
Ooo that’s interesting, I was thinking that maybe you follow her throughout her whole life, and at the very end as she passes away you play as her kid and start to pack her things away in like a full circle moment – is that too morbid though?
I do like the length of the game as is though. Sweet, short, doesn’t outstay its welcome!
Sin Vega says: Unpacking, but it gradually becomes clear that she’s a serial killer
I LOVE that idea Sin ahaha
Rachel Watts says: Hi James! You don’t have copper kitchenware too, do you? haha
I intend to die saving forty cats from a burning building, not from some poxy metal poisoning
Now that’s my kind of video game. Hot diggidy daffodil.
Actually that’s a thought, would you be embarassed if a stranger did your unpacking for you the next time you move?
I don’t think so, but they would get everything wrong and then I’d have to start all over again. I’m not as particular as the folks in A Little To The Left, but it would all just be wrong. Also, the idea of someone touching my toothbrush? Absolutely not.
I’d probably suck it up on the grounds that I was getting somebody else to do an incredibly tedious task for me. That’s one of the things I like about Unpacking, actually – it amplifies the tactile and audible pleasures of tidying while silencing the tedium.
I’d happily let someone do it, but would be quietly embarassed at them putting away my old socks and pants. But I ask because, I feel like in Unpacking (the game) I am unpacking (the verb) someone else’s things – I’m not playing as the character. And I think that’s the intent. Unless someone disagrees?
Ooo yeah, didn’t think of that!
Thinking about it, I always assumed I was character, just because of that moment in the boyfriend’s place just hits harder – you feel the same as her.
Aha! See that’s different to me then. That’s super interesting.
Were there any parts of the game where you weren’t allowed to put an object, but you would argue should have been okay to place?
Yeah I remember consistently having trouble with pans and utensils in the kitchens, every time. In my house utensils are placed on a very fluid basis. They go where they are most useful. Like Gandalf.
Like, I always keep some cooking trays in my oven because my kitchen is small, and it was the same in my family home growing up, but you can’t do that in the game!
Hahaha Kitchens are 100% the boss fights in Unpacking.
I_have_no_nose_but_I_must_sneeze says: I also loved the chickens that proliferated with every move. They were there every time! Faithful companions.
I loved the chickens too! And Mr. Pig!
I know plushies are supposed to go on the bed. But. If they’re so important I’d rather they could have a permanent sitting spot? Not somewhere where they’d need to be cleared away and stashed somewhere else every single night?
I do understand the allure of a big flat surface for leaving things though. It’s why my kitchen table usually has at least two graphics cards on it.
INCORRECT James. I have a Pig analogue (an elephant) and I cuddle elephant at night, so there.
I assumed she hugged all the plushies every night, that’s what I do haha
It’s about time to wrap up though, any final thoughts?
Unpacking is great, more emotional games about organising, and being neat and tidy, please!
Also keen to see what Witch Beam does next.
Same! And yes, I think it’s also an example of how you don’t need to have a massive game, you can have a small game where you do all of it well. Not a huge game where you do some of it okay. It’ll make more impact!
It’s nice to enjoy some environmental storytelling that doesn’t involve skeletons.
Words to live by. Thanks for joining us everyone!