Coming our way from Australia-based developer SMG Studio, Moving Out is a coop-focused moving simulator – and it’s a lot more fun than that sounds like. Published by Team17, it’s coming to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. Our review is based on the PS4 version.
SMG Studio previously brought us Death Squared, a 3D puzzle game where cooperation between different cubes was crucial during ever more difficult challenges. We also remember it as a game with hilarious dialogue with a ton of wit and sarcasm – something that’s rare for a game in the genre.
While not a puzzle game, Moving Out provides a similar kind of wit and also emphasizes cooperation between players. You’re part of a team of movers, and every level has you picking up a collection of random stuff from a location and making sure it all fits in your moving truck. You don’t have to be especially neat about this either, since appliances can just be grabbed while still plugged in (yanking them out of the socket as you go) and you definitely don’t have to pack anything in boxes.
You can even go several steps further, since you can completely trash the house in the process, tossing things through windows just to save a few precious seconds and perhaps get to a higher medal score. You assignments are timed, with gold, silver and bronze medals up for grabs. Do well enough, and you unlock the next of about 30 levels that together form a sort of narrative as you grow your moving business.
Once you qualify for a bronze or silver, you start to notice that you need to somehow shave off more time to get a gold medal, and this is where the game’s lasting appeal comes from. It’s a lot of fun to just move stuff around and wreck a house in the process, but once you realize that you can be faster by dividing up tasks, finding shortcuts (tossing stuff though a window to a colleague) and approaching the house room by room, things quickly get more interesting. You’ll need these skills to tackle the later levels as well, so you might as well experiment with them early.
The game’s controls are simple enough, and its mechanics only gradually change as new level elements are introduced. The controls stay the same though, with grabbing and throwing being your main buttons and the ability to jump that helps you barge through that window that’s inconveniently in the way. Some objects can barely be moved with one person, and others can’t be moved at all. This is where you and a fellow player both grab hold of the object and move towards the door together – fitting an uncomfortably-shaped couch through a doorway that’s too narrow for your liking.
Cooperation becomes even more crucial as levels introduce new mechanics, like livestock that needs moving, access switches or moving conveyor belts that turns your walking direction into a one-way street. After having fun and experimenting with this for a little bit, the need to hatch a plan together quickly becomes apparent. This increases replay value, as do the optional challenges you unlock after completing a level for the first time. There are three per level, so it’s encouraged to visit previous moving jobs at least one more time.
As I mentioned earlier, Moving Out is a fun and funny game. The narrative is delivered with humor, your characters are Furniture Arrangement and Relocation Technicians – and if that didn’t drive the point home then their somewhat frequent gas release while lifting heavy objects certainly will. The sarcasm of Death Squared is gone, but there’s plenty of lighthearted wit instead, peppered with pop culture references that start as early as the tutorial.
Obviously, Moving Out is going to appeal to the Overcooked crowd, with its emphasis on local cooperative play. It’s sillier and there’s definitely more mayhem, but with a lack of online multiplayer it does face a challenge from the direction of the current stay-at-home trend. If you can get a few people together to play, however, then Moving Out is the party game equivalent of Undercooked – you don’t even have to be great at it to have fun with it, yet there’s more to be gained in the long run if you learn about its mechanics, which are a lot more fun than those of an actual moving process.