Unpacking Review – Review – Nintendo World Report
Information about Unpacking Review – Review – Nintendo World Report
Unpack your personal items but be sure to factor in touch controls on a small screen or clumsy analog stick controls everywhere.
Unpacking oozes charm, with an endearing art style and a distinct hook. Each level consists of unpacking boxes and then setting up clothes, kitchen supplies, knickknacks, and more – all in the face of a subtle yet impactful background story. It aspires to be a meditative and zen puzzle game as you figure out the best way to lay out and store all your items while also keeping an eye out for secret achievements and more. The concept is wonderful, but the execution on Switch left me feeling like I never wanted to move again.
The problems on Switch aren’t technical, which is seemingly a rarity for some ports to the system these days. Unpacking runs totally fine, but the problem is one of control. This is clearly a game made best for PC as your basic interaction involves pointing and clicking a cursor to move around objects. On Switch, this never feels natural. Using an analog stick to move items around was never ideal and while touchscreen controls are present in handheld mode, the screen real estate makes them less ideal. Even playing on the OLED model (which has the biggest screen as of posting), I could never find the right zoom level to make touchscreen controls work comfortably while still being able to tell what items were supposed to be. The zoom issue doesn’t factor into docked mode (unless you have a tiny TV), but since no touchscreen option exists, either primary way to play Unpacking on Switch is flawed.
Those controls are a bummer because the game is cute and clever. The story arc is largely in the background as you follow characters from house to house, slowly piecing together what happened over the years between moves. It’s touching and emotional at times, which makes the control issues stand out because over the course of the game, my dominant thoughts were about how annoying it was to try to move a pair of socks from the packing box to the dresser drawer.
Unpacking on Switch doesn’t quite stick the landing of the zen experience it aspires to be, but if you can tolerate some frustrating interfaces and controls, this is still a game worth exploring. Just maybe consider playing it on PC since that experience should be much stronger without the control caveats.