“Packing Up” Review
When we have the privilege to see art that have never been in a tangible form, where it is crafted through math and not dirty, gritty, reality, we should step back and understand how much it took for us, over ten thousand years, to get to the point where see what can barely be defined as existing. This is another Turnfollow game, after A Good Gardener, where their specialty is excessively slow – pased atmospheric paces in an avant – garde, “big plastic people” art style, with no direct plots but a lot of implication.
In keeping with the long name parade as brought on by “Tales of Game’s Presents Chef Boyardee’s Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, Chapter 1 of the Hoopz Barkley SaGa” and “GAME OF THE YEAR: 420BLAZEIT vs xxXilluminatiXxx [wow/10 #rekt edition] — Montage Parody The Game,” “Packing Up The Rest of Your Stuff on the Last Day at Your Old Apartment,” officially initialised as PUTROYSOTLDAYOA but which I shorten to “Packing Up” for that sweet Google link farming, is another game where all you do is sort items into a box and read their descriptions.
You may also listen to indie beats on the OGG player — because we couldn’t afford FLAC — and look out the windows of your apartment to see the frankly beautiful city as brought on by the warm colour palette and the bright sunshine. One of the other evolutions of humanity is where we may live in someone else’s home without knowing them, working for them, or being a slave; the whole concept of an apartment is an absurd one, though necessary, and I understand why they, along with other townhouses and condominiums, are universally hated by my family.
But no such cynical expressions are here, where all is said involves a very short history of each item being packed up, topics of little interest but of some atmosphere, and the implications of someone having to move houses. Moving is one of the saddest things to me. It means you were either forced to by circumstance, or made a poor life decision earlier. Rarely does it end up positive, such as buying new land, or moving onto greater things. Before you move, it requires an obsessive amount of preparation, and during it requires manual labour and awkward navigation. For weeks after, one is never familiar with their new dwelling. You are forced to adapt.
One of the worst traits in the world is to have too much stuff. Our player chooses to pack pack all they can; lamps, posters, an avocado, books, the mattress, and so on. A lot of these are expensive, or at the very least quality, things to have, and compared to some blokes I know, this apartment is spartan. Should you decorate your home in toys from all ends, little plastic creatures against walls and on shelves, over each other forming towers of manufactured hedonism, then you’ll find it all very shallow when you could have hoarded money, instead.
I’ve talked at length about materialism; this was before I realised the best prose is short, most words are redundant, and though there is much information that is useful, it must be catalogued to only be of use to those who request to learn about it. In short, those who base their sense of self on what they gather, and not what they create, are those who lack the practicality to improve themselves past what they own. It is exceptionally interesting to learn about the history of a particular brand of toy, and to understand what makes it special to the owner, such as Jim Sterling’s Boglins. It is not so interesting when they fail to take the opportunity to talk about them, in their art as commercial products, in their unique craftsmanship given the manufacturing process, and simply lets them exist around them like dust — what is there without cause, without reason, and which gives little benefit but a cheap sense of accomplishment.
The stuff in this apartment is of questionable importance to the main character; many of them are simple tools, such as a plunger, and things of questionable importance, like Christmas lights. They keep a bunch of cups around mostly because they’re neat. I keep one around, from an aquarium I so dearly loved, and though I realise it was mass – produced, I keep it because it looks excellent with my furniture, and putting juice in it doesn’t forever alter the taste of the container. I drink water, and never sugar. I keep a lot of plastic bottles, for the fridge must be filled somehow, and the freezer is filled with pre – made spaghetti. Indeed, my own home is full of either what is essential, or what looks exceptional, as the essentials are thrown into the closet, and the exceptional is placed on the walls. I wonder why; I don’t take houseguests.
I like keeping things simple, you know? Like the design philosophy of this game, I never carry more than I need. Not to the point of minimalism; for a lack of gameplay is why I had some gripes with A Good Gardener. But to carry all that you need, and expect to need, and nothing more. I have a toolbox on the floor next to some zip ties and a sewing kit; nothing public, for I need not see it until I need it, and nothing large, for I wish to carry it comfortably. I apply this philosophy for my media collection, deliberately lowering the quality so it’s easier to keep on a flash drive and with more backups, for I don’t need exceptional quality. 32kbps is good enough for me. I prefer having the best music more than I do having the best – quality music. For while it is possible for me to have better quality, the tradeoff in size, transfer speed, and compatibility (as FLAC is a naughty devil) is non – negotiable. It’s also it’s own reward to have 50 hours of music in under a gigabyte.
In times of trouble, I always turn to the Art of Manliness to guide me. It’s a great website written by good people, and has more practical, practicible knowledge than any other website I have seen in my life. I cite two posts: “In Praise of Minimalism,” and “The Problem With Minimalism,” the even – handed sequel. My take is, simply, it is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it. But you must make sure you will need it. I do have some doubts about the necessity of keeping the doorknob handle. Conspicuously, there wasn’t a computer in our room. How was this game made?
The rest of the rooms are empty, thankfully, so when one is done putting objects in and out of boxes they don’t have to go through the ordeal again. The environment has a great deal of work put into it, obviously, and I remain impressed with how they rendered the architecture, representing your average apartment excellently. Being someone with little skill in this area, even the modest accomplishments are extraordinary to me, for even drawing a house on paper is a subject with no familiarity to me. I cannot even say if I could do it. I must thank Turnfollow for putting a level of care into their setpieces that exceeds the capabilities of many developers, for even with Idra and the Little Fish I was not as impressed. It’s a game with so little in it that one may only relate their experiences with a similar setting. They were lucky enough to get someone like me to play it.
Once again, brilliant atmosphere. The typefaces for the game are… let’s be honest, they’re hideous. But they fit the tone of the game nicely. The developers are based in Chicago and Los Angeles, one city I feel sorry for, another I feel afraid of, and I’m not saying which is which. This is a game that could only come out of the unholy merger of these two cultures. I will be grateful they did not attempt to go full hipster, like in that awful, pandering movie “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” where I joked a half – hour in there was going to be a “Beatles” record playing on vinyl. Guess what showed up? I was this close to unplugging the DVD player, but then my sister would get mad.
So no vinyls here, the stereotypcially hip Tumblr photographs are segregated to 20% of the screen while under the item descriptions, and we never get a mirror to see if the protagonist is white enough for us to laugh. I wouldn’t want to learn more about a day in this bloke’s life, but I do want to learn more about what Turnfollow will come up with next, for they’re hitting that just – right note of aesthetics and emotion. But please, for our sakes, come up with an actual plot next time. I’ll even throw out the gameplay — just give me something I can remember and not just as ideas! You can make me feel. Heck, you can even make me throw out my old keyboard. But you’re not making me think about the story. Out of the three reasons for art to exist — to think, feel, or do — you’re only hitting two of them. But you’re getting better.