Unpacking is a game I feel like I should apologize about not caring for in the way it clearly wanted me to.
Opening boxes and sorting out keepsakes, appreciating the music and pixel art, is a nice and cozy experience at times but the game often sabotages it's own strengths with it's over-gamification. The ways it forces you to cram too many things into too small a space crushes the room design aspects into a more puzzle oriented experience rather than the home designer it appears at first glace. This doesn't sound too bad on paper as puzzle games can be engaging in their own ways, but it gets amplified by the game's biggest problem of limiting you to placing objects in specific spaces rather than letting you design freely. It confuses me why they insist on an idea that seems so counter to the game's story and vibe, but ultimately every level becomes a chore of looking around and seeing what the game has declared to be an 'incorrect' placement of items and cramming them in the right cupboards it allows you.
Would it not make more sense to let me design as I please? Isn't designing a room not what I'm supposed to be doing? This also opens the door to a lot of cultural translation problems where I personally don't recognize what certain items are, but not only is there no option not to place them it also reprimands me for putting them in the wrong places until I eventually toss them into the correct cabinet by guesswork. I don't want to discredit the ways this is used purposefully to nice effect, journals hidden under pillows, photos too hurtful to be put on the wall, it's all nice and had me smiling at times but I can't help but feel these moments could be kept with a less strict system.
Now the story is seemingly what the game is focused on the most, and while watching which items are brought along and which are left behind adds more engagement to the unpacking, what's here ultimately feels barebones. It's a pretty standard story of growing up, moving out, and finding love, and it feels uninterested in anything beyond absolute convention (besides the main character being a lesbian) and I'm just left wishing for more.
That really summarizes my entire feelings on this game, I'm left wishing for more. More freedom in designing cozy spaces, more cozy atmosphere free of unnecessary puzzle mechanics, and more cute story moments to track along as I unpack the memories. This is a game that was seemingly made for me but at every moment I felt like I was unpacking somebody else's story, and reprimanded for expressing it in a way not seen fit.