In my adult lifetime I have had the misfortune to move house a grand total of seven times. Each time felt more tedious and stressful than the time before. After every move you always promise yourself that it was the last one and say “never again”. Hopefully ‘Moving Out’, the new house moving game, developed by SMG Studio and DevM Games and published by Team 17, will hopefully put a fun and positive spin on the house moving process!
First of all, an apology. There will probably be comparisons made between Moving Out and Overcooked quite a lot in this review, as the similarities to the manic and chaotic cooking game are incredibly obvious. It shares many similarities with its graphical style, hub-world layout, and design of level objectives. Moving Out has a lot of promise, and a lot to live up to, as Overcooked is one of the ultimate multiplayer party games.
The basic premise of Moving Out is to transfer a number of items from a home, onto your truck outside. This is done by picking up and carrying these items – like beds and sofas to the truck, or, more entertainingly, throwing the smaller items through windows in its general direction. Complete each level in a certain time limit and you will be awarded a Gold, Silver or Bronze medal. Upon successful completion you will then be set specific objectives to complete on repeat attempts – like completing the level without breaking any windows. Fans of Overcooked and mobile games will recognise this method of level design and reward.
As you progress you take on more and more advanced and different locations, and have new physics puzzles to overcome. An early level sees a big swimming pool in the way of a quick time, so some accurate throws will be needed, but then there are some breakable items which can’t be thrown, so there is some use of the old grey matter needed. There are some really well designed levels and game mechanics, like the electrical items that need to have their electrical cords yanked from the sockets. The Summer Chalet level has an ice slide that allows you to throw all the smaller items straight out of a window and down the slide direct to the truck. And, as you progress, levels see you moving items from a haunted game development studio (The AAAAH-tari Office), where you will need to slap the ghost haunting the premises! Later levels really ramp up the difficulty as you move items from a moving aeroplane into the truck below.
There is a lot of humour within Moving Out, especially the opening tutorial where you have to prove that you are capable of earning your Furniture Arrangement Relocation Technician – yes, FART. Childish humour I admit, but it did make me chuckle throughout. This humour does continue throughout the game during conversations between the characters and is very well done.
Just when you think that Moving Out is a pretty monotonous game it throws some quite brilliant levels at you. Early on you are sent to a farm where you task is to move the animals. This level is huge amounts of fun and annoyance, as the animals will jump from your truck and will need to be recaptured. Straight after that comes the Frogger level, which is just genius! There is also an arcade to unlock, where you will find fun mini-games to complete.
One great feature of Moving Out is its accessibility options that are built into the game. These allow you to change the difficulty so that any age or ability of gamer can have fun. These allow you to extend time limits, reduce difficulty and make the objects dissappear when they are successfully loaded onto the truck, to name but a few. The developers have excelled here, and hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Some of the playable characters are also in wheelchairs which is a really nice touch and shows the level of thought that has gone into the games design.
I played Moving Out mainly as a solo player (more on that later) and I did find it to be quite frustrating. Although the levels are designed really well there are times it doesn’t quite work as planned. Trying to pull a sofa through a door that’s designed to fit through perfectly, is tricky when the slightest wrong angle means it gets stuck. I’m sure playing with a second player would make that process easier, but if you don’t have that help then it’s annoying. Get a few of these and it makes completing the level in Gold time somewhat impossible. Add a second player in and it ups the number of items to be moved, with a lower time limit, and the few games I played it did seem much easier.
But Moving Out has a massive problem, which is the fact that there is no online multiplayer whatsoever. I was actually shocked and despondent upon this realisation, as four of us loaded up the game on release day only to find no online features. We were all actually dumbfounded that this feature was missing from the game. I just wrongly assumed that this feature would be there. I mean, why wouldnt it be!?
We spend many a night on “party” games like the previously mentioned Overcooked, and Moving Out would have joined that list. Without online play, three of the four players just didn’t want to put any time into it. As a single player game it is OK. But it’s certainly not a game you can sit and play for hours on end without getting bored. But it is a fun and entertaining game you can turn on and smash out a level or two, with real enjoyment before moving on to something else. Couch co-op is obviously included, but in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic the ability to pop round a friends house is going to limit that audience. As it stands this is a great game for parents and kids stuck indoors during this difficult time.
However, Moving Out is on Xbox Game Pass so there is no excuse not to give it a try!