It’s just a toothbrush – but it’s one of two now. That’s the first sign of Unpacking’s brilliantly gentle storytelling, which begins in a young girl’s bedroom, emptying boxes full of toys. Flash forward a few years, and it’s the same situation, only in an apartment, and fewer toys. The toys disappear to make room for clothes, and not just hers anymore.
Until the final still image, people do not appear in Unpacked. It’s just their things, rendered in friendly pixel art. Sometimes it’s clothes, sometimes tchotchkes. Other times, it’s art supplies appearing from the boxes, because as Unpacked shows, this is the life of an artist, passing through the years, finding others to share time and things with – and it doesn’t always work out.
The genius of Unpacking is how much it does with so little. There’s a puzzle element in finding where things need to go and how to place them all. It’s a kindly, calming, zen design space. Plus, the joy of following someone who’s maturing, losing their toys, but clinging to their childhood via a growing collection of tiny plush chickens. Stuff doesn’t matter, people do. Yet Unpacking shows how sifting through objects, the things we take joy and pride in, define a personality. Finding that is nothing less than a simple joy.