The timing of Moving Out’s release couldn’t be more appropriate, I myself actually going through the rather tedious and at times frustrating process of moving house. Where the real-world situation sees me slowly bubble-wrapping glass and carefully carrying things to the back of a truck, developer SMG Studio’s interpretation instead has me smashing through windows as a means of creating a shortcut and literally throwing sofas, microwaves and refrigerators from the second floor a house into its front lawn. Guess which one I’m finding to be more fun.
If you’ve played the likes of Overcooked, Catastronauts or the more recent Good Job! then should feel right at home here, Moving Out delivering that same chaotic physics-based top-down action that’s made these games so popular over the last handful of years. Sure, all these examples have seen players doing different things like cooking food, controlling a spaceship or performing an assortment of company tasks but at the end of the day, they all share the same DNA – goofy, chaotic multiplayer with a large emphasis on communication and teamwork.
You can probably guess by the title, but in Moving Out you work for a moving company tasked with transferring furniture and the like into your truck from houses, offices, farms and plenty more wacky locations. Unlike Overcooked that added some extra complexity through its differing dishes and preparation techniques, here your focus is purely on carrying or throwing objects into your truck. Challenging enough but much more so when it comes to dealing with the varying obstacles each new location throws your way. It could be something as simple as dodging moving traffic or skirting around a swimming pool or something a little more out there like dealing with livestock, attacking ghosts and rotating walls. Emptying the contents of a building may have you doing the same thing over and over but thankfully the changing environments keep the action from feeling repetitive.
Controlling your adorable little character is kept nice and simple, your actions limited to jumping, holding and throwing. Some items can be lifted with a single-player while bigger, heavier furniture such as sofas and refrigerators require at least two of you. After a level or two, you’ll get the hang of things. This is very much a pick-up and jump right in sort of game which makes it ideal for most players. Of course, it’s putting your team to efficient use that’s most important if you’re to even get close to anything other than a bronze medal performance. Chances are most attempts will result in a lot of yelling and players going about things their own way – which can work albeit in a messy way – but the best times will be a result of a well thought out plan and one that takes full advantage of each building’s layout.
Levels are accessible via a slowly expanding world map that sees you able to drive your truck from one location to the next. It’s essentially a glorified level selection menu but one that feels a little more involved. You’ll earn medals based on the time it takes you to load up your truck with a further three tasks revealing themselves after your first completion of a stage. These include avoiding falling into water, smashing every window or doing the exact opposite and avoiding windows altogether. It definitely gives you a reason to return to stages although some tasks definitely prove more enjoyable than others. As you earn medals and beat challenges, you’ll also unlock arcade and memory stages, the former placing you in more platformer-focused situations and the latter a series of even sillier scenarios. They offer a nice break from the game’s main levels just so long as you manage to earn enough medals to unlock them.
My wife and I had a good amount of fun with Moving Out although I couldn’t help but shake the feeling I’d gone through these motions before. You see, while Moving Out follows in the footsteps of games like Overcooked and Catastronauts, it does it so closely there’s little that surprises or feels truly new. I’m not just talking from a gameplay standpoint either. The characters feel like they’d fit right in with those other games – weird and wacky – while the world map too is very Overcooked-esque. It’s not a bad thing per se but having played a number of these types of games before, it definitely extinguished my level of excitement somewhat. If there’s one area the game manages to distance itself a little more, it’s from the cool 90s vibe it radiates through its excellent soundtrack and funny training video.
Much like the games before it, this is not one best experienced alone. While things are scaled down to accommodate the lone lifter, without the chaos and shouting from trying to manoeuvre an L-shaped sofa round through a doorway with other people, the whole process strangely feels a lot more like actual work and as a result less fun. Without any online functionality that also means local play is your only option if you want to play as a group.
Another area that left us feeling frustrated from time to time was the game’s physics. Of course, with a game like this, you can expect things to go a little awry here and there such as furniture getting caught on corners or a throw veering off course. In fact, at times we found it to be plain funny. However, with the clock ticking it also led to moments where we felt a little cheated. Like we had a strong plan but the loose controlling of the characters or the weird reaction of an object prevented us from pulling it off right and scoring that elusive gold medal.
Moving Out is a silly, simple but enjoyable romp that follows the successful blueprint of series like Overcooked very closely. As a result, you have a game that delivers the same style of loud and manic cooperative fun but at the same time fails to do much that’s new and surprising. In the end, Moving Out is perfect for those hungry for ‘another one of those’ but perhaps a tad too safe for others who have since moved on.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Team17