Need A Packet is an experimental game built on repetition but carries a strong message. This unconventional gameplay is difficult to wrap your head around because it is so bizarre so if you are looking for something super weird, here you go.
At its core, Need A Packet is a supermarket cashier simulator. Anyone who has worked a retail position like this will immediately relate to the check-out routine, dealing with customers, and the tedium of working a register. It is not that this is a “fun” game or a “bad” game. This game is basically saying that it sucks to be a cashier, it can drive you insane, and it is the same thing over and over.
Each day, the player wake ups, clicks a button to get dressed, then leaves the house to go to work. Along the way, the player can click on apps via a virtual cell phone while on the bus going to work. Here, the player is exposed to useless facts via a mock Twitter-like feed or can read the news. Sometimes the news will explain there is something going on which can cause a shortage of a particular store item, think of toilet paper in our real world current situation, and then the player will feel the effects of this while at work. However, the important point to note is this drab commute cannot be skipped, just like in real life.
When manning the cash register, the player has to scan the items of each customer and ask them if they want a packet. You know when you go to the store in real life and the cashier robotically asks if you need something like garbage stickers or postage stamps? It is basically the same thing here. Most will say no, but the occasional customer will need a packet. If so, the player needs to press the packet button or face the consequences of forgetting. If the buyer has produce, the player will need to manually enter the multi-digit product code. Then, the player will need to provide the appropriate change to complete the transaction. This is done repeatedly until the work day is done, usually a handful of real life minutes. Eventually things start to get more complex as people try to buy booze so you have to do the math to check ID or process credit cards instead of cash. Mess up too much, or don’t work fast enough, and your health will start to deplete.
With each passing day, the player starts to hallucinate more and more crazy things as the repetition of the job starts to make the player insane. Since the visuals are composed of blocky and abstract pixel art, seeing these bizarre things, like sideways murmuring heads or demons just flying by in the background, everything is a constant WTF moment. Eventually, the player will encounter an abrupt end, around 15-20 real world minutes, and bear witness to the ending which is essentially a grade of your performance. You might be promoted to manager, for example, if you worked fast enough with enough accuracy.
Need A Packet isn’t a good game nor is it a bad game. It is just a weird and completely obscure game. Since it is so unique and so far out there, it is difficult to put a score on it. Instead, this is one title that is strongly recommended for seekers of the unconventional and want to play something never played before. The thing is, you don’t really “play” this game as opposed to living it as it provides a perspective you might have never thought about. Me, I will appreciate that minimum wage cashier even more now after playing this peculiar title once I get the nightmare-ish pixilated visions out of my head.
Also available on Switch and PS Vita.
Also Try: other Sometimes You titles
Better Than: being a cashier in which customers are rude and swear at you
Don’t Be Thrown Off By: the weird, creepy box art