The Unicorn Scale: Unpacking

By Faby Mota

January 30, 2024



Photo credit: Image/Witch Beam

Hello gamer unicorns! I don’t know about you but I love cozy games; there’s something magical about a video game with no stress, time limits, health meters, or boss fights. In the last couple of years, I’ve explored a lot of indie games and have happily entered my cozy gamer era. When a friend told me about Unpacking (2021), I immediately added it to my wish list. I had no idea it was going to be so beautifully bi. So, if you’re looking for your next cozy game or want a game to help you unwind after a stressful day, I’ve got you covered!

Be warned this review will have major SPOILERS for the complete plot of Unpacking. It’s very short, so if you want to discover the plot yourself, go play it before you continue reading this review! If you’re not familiar with our rating system, check out our metric here.

Ready? Let’s unpack this together!

Unpacking is an indie zen puzzle game about literally unpacking a life. It has won several awards, including two BAFTA Games Awards and a Eurogamer award. And let me tell you that even the award-winning soundtrack is amazing!

The game involves unpacking the belongings of a female main character through eight stages, seeing how her life unwinds from 1997 to 2018. Your task is to unpack her belongings from the boxes and strategically arrange them throughout the house. However, it's important to ensure that each item finds its place in a logical and organized manner. While unpacking her belongings, you pick up on who she is and see how her life has changed — from her old childhood room to her final home. After living with roommates, you see her move in with a boyfriend. When that relationship falls apart, she's back to unpacking in her childhood room. Eventually, she transitions to living in a house on her own. In the seventh stage, you find yourself unpacking a partner's belongings into your home. Slowly but surely, you come to the realization that this new partner is a woman.

Image/Witch Beam

What I Liked:

Everything! Due to the game's nature, it compels you to take a moment and contemplate how our lives unfold through the process of unpacking in various homes, which is genuinely heartwarming. The game's attention to detail, like stashing the picture of the failed relationship in a drawer instead of displaying it with the rest of the photos, adds an intriguing depth to the storytelling. Throughout the game, you discover many traits of the character’s personality, like how she’s an artist, likes the color purple, and her specific clothing preferences. However, in the second half of the game, you can catch hints of the character’s queerness — like her rainbow-colored underwear.

The way you realize the character now has a girlfriend is really cute. The game didn’t make a big fuss about the character coming out and very gracefully normalized the life of the bi protagonist. The delightful conclusion, where the main character forms a family with her new girlfriend, serves as the perfect ending to this beautiful story. I was very happy to learn that the creator, Wren Brier, is also a bi woman and that the game reflects a lot of her own life experience. While Bier had been in a relationship with a woman before meeting her current partner, Tim Dawson (co-creator of the game), she reversed this narrative to prevent bi erasure. She didn't want the protagonist's female relationship to be perceived as a phase or as just a college thing.

Image/Witch Beam

What I Didn’t Like:

Well… the game does not say the word bisexual. But I’m not mad at all about it. The game really has little to no text, and is a self-explanatory story. We know she’s bi, we don’t need any more explanation, and that’s beautiful.

The Rating:

Playing this game was a self-reflective and relaxing experience I would recommend for any cozy gamer out there. The simplicity of the bi representation in a well-rounded character, combined with the way the creators carefully portrayed the story, earns this game 4 out of 4 unicorns. I would love to see a sequel and have more bi characters’ lives to unpack!

4 unicorn emojis