This award-winning iPad app brings you peace with its meditative puzzles

A screenshot of the Unpacking app from the Apple App Store
(Image credit: Unpacking / Apple App Store)

The Unpacking game app icon

(Image credit: Unpacking / Apple App Store)

iPhone / iPad – Free (In-App Purchases)

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If you find unpacking satisfying and oddly soothing this game is for you. As you may have guessed, the aim of Unpacking is to unpack a character’s belongings and find a place for them in her new home. 

So on one level, Unpacking is simply a block-fitting puzzle game. But it also reveals a story with every new item you unpack, which makes it a unique and surprisingly immersive game that’s ideal if you’ve been looking for a puzzle game with a difference. 

Unpacking was created by Witch Beam, an independent game studio based in Brisbane, Australia. It’s received many positive reviews and it’s also won several awards, including two BAFTA Games Awards. 

It costs $9.99/£9.99, which might sound like a lot, but that gets you full access to the game. You can play it on iPad and iPhone, but we think you’ll get the best experience from the iPad’s bigger screen because you use the touch of your fingertips to move items around and there’s haptic feedback to add to the experience. 

The soothing satisfaction of unpacking 

The game is divided up into different stages. Each stage is named by the year in which the game takes place, there’s 1997, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2018. In each stage, you need to unpack a character’s possessions from boxes each time she enters a new home, with each unpacking process marking a significant life event.

All in all, there are 8 stages, or house moves, and 35 rooms. Each time you enter these different stages and rooms, your aim is to unpack, and then fit everything you’ve unpacked into the new living space, learning more about the main character’s life and story as you handle her belongings and explore the new places she lives each time. 

The experience is mostly wordless, which means the stories you uncover as you progress through the game are told through the objects you’ll be unpacking. The fact there are no words makes Unpacking more accessible, ensuring most people can still play the game, even if they have language processing difficulties. 

If you’re playing Unpacking, we highly recommend using a good pair of headphones, because to aid in the storytelling there are more than 14,000 sound effects used, many unique to each item you pick up.

I love the quirky proposition of this game and find it deeply meditative to play, especially considering there are no timers or scores. This makes it more pleasing to really solve the puzzles of placing the items in the best spots, but it also means the storytelling is more enjoyable and a part of the experience rather than an add-on. If you want to switch off over the holidays and find your flow, this is a simple game to begin that quickly becomes a surprisingly soothing experience.


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Becca Caddy

Becca Caddy is a contributor to iMore, as well as a freelance journalist and author. She’s been writing about consumer tech and popular science for more than a decade, covering all kinds of topics, including why robots have eyes and whether we’ll experience the overview effect one day. She’s particularly interested in VR/AR, wearables, digital health, space tech and chatting to experts and academics about the future. She’s contributed to TechRadar, T3, Wired, New Scientist, The Guardian, Inverse and many more. Her first book, Screen Time, came out in January 2021 with Bonnier Books. She loves science-fiction, brutalist architecture, and spending too much time floating through space in virtual reality. Last time she checked, she still holds a Guinness World Record alongside iMore Editor in Chief Gerald Lynch for playing the largest game of Tetris ever made, too.