Currently, my wife is in quarantine. She has tested positive for covid. Somehow, I’m currently negative. Even if I am positive, I’m lucky enough to be asymptomatic. She feels like she got hit by a bus. We’re doing the smart and responsible thing and isolating ourselves from each other. Our 1095 square foot apartment has never felt bigger.
It’s an apartment that has been our home for almost five years now.
Given the circumstances of how we found this place, we’re very fortunate. To make a long story short, we had less than a month to move due to an unforeseen situation. My sister mentioned we should investigate our current apartment complex. That was, again, almost five years ago. Throughout those five years, we lived with my now sister-in-law, got engaged, helped pay for our wedding, attempted to advance our careers, and have done the best we could during a global, once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.
Throughout the entirety of our relationship, we’ve lived together. Unconventional, I know, but after a date, I went out of town for a couple of days, came back, and never left. Our living situation has always felt natural. It feels right to be with her, spend time with her, and share a life with her. It’s the reason why I married her, naturally, but it’s a feeling I’ve had since the day we met. We fit together, like the pieces of a puzzle. Isn’t that what life is? Not just dating or relationships, but growing up, advancing your career, and bettering yourself. You spend each day working on your puzzle until the pieces perfectly fit together.
Unpacking Tells One of the Best Story’s of 2021
At its core, these are the themes Unpacking addresses. The game features eight chapters, highlighting specific points and milestones of the main character’s life. Despite extremely minimal dialogue, none of which is spoken, a straightforward story is still being told. Through the game’s context clues, we’re told one of the most impactful and emotional stories I’ve ever experienced in a video game.
Unpacking isn’t afraid to hold back the emotional gut punches. Its ability to resonate on a personal level is awe-inspiring. I’m able to relate to the main character on an intimate level. Partially due to the story’s ability to paint light brushes in terms of context. We have an idea of what’s going on: we watch as a woman moves into her room as a child, heads to university, joins roommates, dates, and deals with everything life throws at her. Beyond that, it’s up to us as the player to fill in the missing pages.
For me, I see myself. I struggled to chase my dreams, moved in with roommates and friends, found my own identity, and became comfortable with myself. I took the plunge and moved a romantic relationship to the next level. I dealt with the curveballs in life as I tried to make it on my own. Our character will encounter triumphs, failures, successes, and setbacks as we all do. While I spend all of Unpacking helping someone else move, I can still see myself in our unnamed character.
Developer Witch Beam ensures that every item you unpack has a purpose. They tell their own individual story. Whether it’s a stuffed animal, personal hygiene products, dinnerware, it doesn’t matter. Everything has its place and purpose, not just for the woman in Unpacking, but also as a reflection of our own lives.
By the time the credits roll, we’ve only spent a handful of hours with the game. I’ve seen reports that it takes about three-and-a-half hours to complete. My sister-in-law spent four hours with it. I finished it in a little over two. My wife is currently playing through it at a similar pace as myself.
No, that’s not me quoting Borat; it’s a reflection upon everything I’ve encountered in my life until this point. All the emotional unpacking I’ve done personally that this game has unpacked for lack of a better term. As I caught a glimpse of the past twenty years of the woman in Unpacking’s life, I did the same with myself. I saw everything she dealt with for so long, her trials and tribulations. The constant struggle to make her life fit in places she thought it would. I, too, look back at that same struggle. The highs, the lows, and I realize it was all worth it because it got me here, with my wife, happily married. I get the same feeling from the main character: she’s truly happy, and everything was worth it.
I Constantly Rooted for the Woman in the Story. I Cheered With Her and Cried With Her.
While Unpacking allows you to constantly empty the last box and decorate every nook and cranny of your space, it doesn’t always quite feel like home. The game and story address these examples head-on. The solution to the puzzle may involve re-arranging what you thought was perfect. It’s true in the game, and it’s true in life. The result brings the same feelings: is this want I want? Am I sure about this? Did I make the right choice?
Upon completing each of the eight chapters in Unpacking, we catch a glimpse into the thoughts of the unnamed female character. We learn that maybe there’s a reason that puzzle was difficult and aggravating. Something that looks super cool and sleek doesn’t fit together. What I thought was meant to be, as it turns out, wasn’t. But there’s a reason for that.
My wife is my other half, best friend, and partner. We don’t force anything; we complement each other. We bring out the best in each other. We make each other better people.
Well, she makes me a better person; she was already perfect to begin with.
When Unpacking ends, that’s the meaning of its story: when everything is truly meant to be, everything just works. You’re not stressing to solve a puzzle, moving pieces around, and struggling to make it work. Simply put, it just fits. You can be yourself, your true self, and come out better for it.