Unboxing is, for the most part, a casual puzzle game. I had a good time pulling out all of the protagonist’s items one by one and placing them in the various locations around his rooms. From her childhood bedroom to her first home, I love how relaxing and rewarding it is to decorate every room. But after replaying it for this month’s RPS Game Club, there’s one section that gave me quite the opposite reaction.
A big part of Unpacking is discovering characters’ personalities through their items: what clothes they have in their closets, what items fill their shelves, what kitchen utensils move from move to move, and so on. These contextual clues act as a subtle yet incredibly effective storytelling device. There is one level, however, where it’s not all casual fun times and that’s when the protagonist moves in with her first partner, who I’ll now call “finance boyfriend” – and wow, he’s the absolute worst. Spoilers ahead for those who haven’t played Unpacking.
After a quick look around the finance buddy’s apartment, you can instantly tell that this guy isn’t the right fit for our protagonist. The modern grey-black decor, the miniature Japanese Zen garden, the dumbbells in the living room, the pretentious copper kitchen utensils, the giant speakers, the electric guitar hanging on the wall, it all screams bachelor pad.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. To each his own, you know? But here is the kicker. There was no attempt to make room for the things you need to unpack. Like, no space at all. He emptied a bedside table for you, left a grand total of three empty hangers and two small drawers, but that was it. Not exactly the warmest welcome, is it?
So, to make room for your stuff, you have to move his stuff, which seems so awkward and wrong. It’s almost like invading someone’s personal space without their permission, even though you two now live together. And the strange meticulousness of his affairs does it a thousand times worse.
Besides, your stuff and his stuff don’t go together even a bit. Our colorful array of personal effects immediately clashes with the surroundings, a clever hint that this may not be the right decision for her. I just wanna push through the scream and yell, “He’s not for you babes!” Honestly, I felt so sad when I had to place my childhood stuffed toy, Mr. Pig, on the bland gray bed.
It’s his reluctance to make room for him that makes my blood boil. And like the final straw – and the game’s most heartbreaking moment – it won’t even make room for her to display her diploma, so under the bed is fine. Absolutely fuck this guy.
I feel like the Witch Beam devs have nailed this level. Even though I’m seething with rage at the boyfriend, it’s a genius story. I’m just glad she’s done with that jerk and gets on with her life. Good for her.