Title: Moving Out
Developer: SMG Studio
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Team 17
Genre: Party, Strategy, Multiplayer
Couch co-op is a lost art. Many gamers have fond memories of playing Halo, Goldeneye or Mario Kart 64 with their friends and family all while sitting right next to each other. The advancements of the internet, however, have made couch co-op and LAN parties a thing of the past as its easier to hop into an online game of Call of Duty rather than moving your whole set up to someone else’s house.
Due to online multiplayer, most games have entirely gotten rid of the ability to have more than one person play together in the same room. Moving Out is a game about moving furniture, an activity that usually takes more than one person, so it’s no surprise that the game is built around local multiplayer.
Moving Out puts players in the shoes of the newest employees of Smooth Moves, Packville’s premier moving company. Business is booming as everyone in Packville is always moving. You are tasked with moving a select number of items from each client’s house into the moving van as quickly as possible. Don’t worry if you happen to break a few windows or shatter a TV set, the client signed a wavier!
Moving Out is an unapologetically goofy game. Everything about it is off the walls; it feels like playing an old Looney Tunes cartoon at times. This, paired with the cartoony art style, make this the perfect game to play with people of all ages.
The developers chose to go with a 1980s theme for Moving Out, which is featured heavily at the beginning but is sort of lost as time goes on. Outside of an interesting tutorial akin to an old VHS training video, the theme felt like an odd choice, mainly because they didn’t run with it.
The music also has a 1980s vibe to it. It sounds like something right out of the era, which would have been great if there was more of it. For the most part, every level features the same music looped over and over again. While it’s not a bad track, it would’ve been nice to have some variety.
Similarly to recent couch co-op hit Overcooked, a game of Moving Out can range from incredibly funny and lighthearted to nail-bitingly stressful. Chances are the deeper you get into Moving Out, the more likely you are to scream at your partner for not moving a couch the right way or for breaking a fragile object. While this can be a fun co-op experience, it can also be a stressful one.
Moving Out isn’t all that long, with 30 normal levels and ten challenge levels. Though they start out relatively simple, things quickly ramp up in difficulty. It doesn’t take long for you to go from moving a coffee table out of an average suburban home to moving vials of green goo out of a flame-filled space station. When I said this game was odd, I meant it.
Each level has essentially the same goal: get all of the highlighted objects into the moving van within a specific time limit. Doing this is easy enough, but the game ramps up the difficulty by adding optional objectives and a grading scale to try and get players to move things as fast as possible. For instance, during any given level, players may have nine minutes to move everything. If they can do it all in three, however, they’ll get a gold ranking on the level. Trying to achieve the gold ranking in each level is a significant part of Moving Out’s replayability.
As I mentioned earlier, three optional objectives appear after you have cleared a level. These are usually a little more obtuse, such as “ride the crocodile,” or “take the flamingos.” I found that replaying levels to achieve these objectives was sometimes more fun than trying to complete the levels regularly.
Completing these optional objectives rewards players with tokens that are used to unlock extra “Arcade” challenge levels. These levels take place in a Tron-Esque digital world and usually task the players from getting an object from one side of a level to another. While these do add a little more variety, I didn’t have much fun playing them. Moving Out features an over-the-top movement system that may work for the game’s normal levels but doesn’t lend itself well to 3D platforming.
As you progress through Moving Out’s levels, you will slowly unlock several playable characters and cosmetic items. Though these are by no means necessary, it was nice to see little rewards here and there for players who decide to stick with the game through the end.
Surprisingly, Moving Out has a story that is pretty easy to miss. Before each level begins, the movers will have some contact with their boss or client. This is usually just bad puns about moving or other light banter, so most of the time I just skipped past them. About halfway through the game, however, a strange plot about evil clients and space pack rats began to unfold. The story here is by no means profound, but it will provide a good chuckle in between levels.
Moving Out is a lot more fun if more than one person is playing it. The game supports up to four players at once and scales the difficulty of a level to how many people who are playing. While the game is fully playable solo, it loses a bit of its charm during this mode. Sadly, I also encountered several bugs where I would get stuck in items and have to restart levels, but this only happened while playing by myself.
Moving Out is a great game to pull out on family night or when hanging out with friends, though don’t blame me if this ends in an argument about how to get a couch through a door properly. Still, its cartoonish charm will easily entertain a group for a few hours. Even though the single-player offerings aren’t as enjoyable as the multiplayer mode, there’s plenty to enjoy through the optional objectives and zany environments. Those looking for the next over-the-top party game will find what they’re looking for in Moving Out.
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