College. Oh, man. Sorry, I just cringed remembering the days I couldn’t wake up for an 11am theatre class.
If there’s one thing I hated about this time, it was moving everything in my dorm twice a year. Nothing is worse than lugging an unwieldy, grease stained couch up three flights of stairs and tearing it in the doorframe, only to realize it won’t fit in your broom-closet of a dorm.
Well, one thing is worse: helping friends move.
At least, that’s what I thought until some pals and I cracked open Moving Out, a physics-based moving simulator that is way more fun than it sounds. Developed by SMG Studio and DevM Games, this indie title piqued my interest when I saw Nintendo post a trailer in February. Everything about the video–from its charming characters to the ragdoll physics–promised a fun moving simulator. To top it off, the game claims to bring “a new meaning to couch co-op,” and I’m a huge sucker for good local multiplayer.
Moving Out is slick at first glance. Despite a screen cluttered with more boxes than a GameStop in 2020, you can see clearly thanks to colourful graphics. Despite the cartoonish look, a lot of its physics for moving objects through doors and carrying heavy items feels realistic.
The atmosphere is stress-free despite its time intensive levels. Your cheerful characters are constantly bombarding you with jokes and lighthearted commentary on the game’s story (expect a lot of “moving” related puns). Underscoring all of this is an inspirational soundtrack of synth-driven rock music to get you psyched about moving dressers.
After experiencing a chaotic tutorial with my roommates, we got into the first few levels. The gist of the game is that you and up to three friends work for Smooth Moves, a moving company. The goal of each level is simple: get all the items into your truck within a certain time limit to receive either a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Fortunately, your clients don’t seem to mind you constantly launching boxes down stairs, through windows, and into traffic.
The ridiculous level designs are sometimes hard to make heads or tails of, but even if you fail, you can easily form a plan to nail your second shot. Strategy has been playing a larger role in my gameplay than I anticipated, and my roommates and I quickly found ourselves communicating the same way we would had we been moving furniture in real life. This game has created an opportunity to tackle the interesting problems related to moving without constraints. You want to toss the sofa through a second story window? Sure. Wanna put the computer on the back of a moving turtle? I don’t see why not.
While I played the first ten levels in multiplayer, I took on the rest of the game solo. Both experiences were fun, but there are certainly levels designed for co-op. Our multiplayer session was great, and I could certainly see this becoming a solid party game. But I had just as much fun picking it up for a couple of levels at a time, none of which took more than 10 minutes. As I made my way through levels with increasingly difficult puzzles and environmental hazards, I realized both the gameplay and story were a bit more complicated than I thought.
Moving Out is set in Packmore, a dystopian suburbia which every resident is moving away from. Players are immediately given the option to select one of several characters with the opportunity to unlock more. Fortunately, these are all characters built to endure the hard work of moving. From an anthropomorphic cat-pirate, to a sentient scrambled egg, Moving Out has its bases covered.
With 30 levels to try over and over, you and your friends should have plenty of practice as Furniture Arrangement Relocation Technicians (F.A.R.Ts for short). As I worked my way through these, I was surprised to find a story unfold. All I’m saying is, you won’t just be moving couches and pianos. There are more than a few flamethrowers and chickens in the mix.
Difficulty ramps quickly as you are introduced to machinery that affects the map, as well as enemies like ghosts who steal objects from you. There is an assist mode to lower difficulty which I’m avoiding for now, but it’s comforting to know it’s there. The first level I ran out of time on and had to restart, I decided to check my story progress to see how far I had progressed. With 15 levels under my belt, it appeared that I wasn’t even 10% through the game. However, when I finished the story, I realized this percentage took individual achievements into account. I was a little bummed when I beat the game and realized there were not nearly as many levels as I’d anticipated, but the game is polished enough that I’ll let it slide. Despite having finished it, there are many mechanics I’m still practicing, so I’m sure I will get replay value.
Depending on how you play individual levels, there are specific trophies you can earn such as ‘don’t step on grass,’ or, ‘slap a ghost.’ The more trophies you earn, the more coins you will have to spend at the arcade in Packmore. This is a bonus area where you can unlock mini games to practice with various moving mechanics. This feature, paired with co-op and a decent library of levels, makes this game a powerhouse of replayability.
I am impressed with all the core elements of the game. The only parts I felt were unfair are levels that lean heavily on cooperative play. For instance, one requires you to toss boxes on a conveyor belt and have a friend control a flamethrower to protect the packages. Some people may not have someone close who can or would play the game, and these levels will be much more challenging for them. However, they are manageable, if a little frustrating.
I’m interested to see how people react to these tight, time-based levels. I could see speedrunners devouring this game. The stories you get from the crazy nature of Moving Out can be very fun, and I’m excited for people to share them.
One of the biggest opportunities SMG Studio and DevM Games have, especially during this time of quarantine, is creating a level building mode. Building an online community for this game where you can play and share other people’s levels, similar to Mario Maker, would be pivotal in making this couch co-op survive today. In addition, it would ameliorate one of my few issues with the game, which is its limited level count. Still, even if you don’t have friends that want to play a moving simulator, I would give Moving Out a shot.
Moving Out is available on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft for £19.99
This Review is based on the Nintendo Switch Version of the game which you can purchase here.
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Are you ready for an exciting career in furniture? As a newly certified Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician, you’ll take on moving jobs all across the town of Packmore. Smooth Moves may not be the biggest moving company, but there’s no task too dangerous or strange for this busy team of go-getters. Grow your business to brave new heights, recruit colourful customizable characters, and save your town from furniture peril!
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 19.99
Product In Stock: Not Available