If Overcooked taught me and my fiancé that we should never cook together, then Moving Out is an insight to the joyous day we eventually pack up and move. Inspired by party games like the previously mentioned Overcooked, Moving Out is a cooperative experience that sees you and a partner race against the clock to quickly vacate a house of all its belongings. Sounds easy, right? Well, the developers at SMG Studio and DevM Games and their publishing friends at Team17 seemingly know that one of the winning ingredients of Overcooked was the sheer creativity in level design – Moving Out is of the same ilk. I consider myself a clean freak, but Moving Out will have you smashing, crashing and trashing many houses in an attempt to get the moving van loaded as quickly as possible. It’s frantic, chaotic bursts of fun and poses a promising multiplayer experience when it hits Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC on April 28th 2020.
Starting off with a linear tutorial section, Moving Out embraces its humour with a sprinkling of 80’s fuelled vibes by playing out as a work training day. Music that would easily find a home on Supermarket Sweep breezes through the speakers as the overly enthusiastic announcer guides you through the game’s controls. It’s an easy pick up and play experience with a very limited control scheme. One to move the player; another to simply pick up and drop objects; then finally one to throw items or slap obstacles out of the way. Large objects require the need of multiple players to lift opposite ends and evenly distribute the weight, though it’s entirely possible as a single-player experience with said objects being made lighter. The easy to learn control scheme ensures that this is the perfect game for a party setting, quickly introducing players to the game and throwing them into the action.
The physics-based action is what lends Moving Out a sense of identity and hilarity. As your team rushes around the levels carrying basic items such as tables, chairs and televisions, it’s the sense of urgency against the clock that makes for the best moments. Windows will smash as you bash into them and paintings will fall as you fly down the stairs. The destructible environments may be treacherous to my insistent OCD, but they actually play into the levels to make routes back to the van easier. For example, smashing the window on the top floor of a building can ensure you can jump out with objects in tow and quickly place them on the van, instead of taking the long route back through the house. It manages to marry a silly sense of comedy with actual strategy.
As for the levels, they’re inventive, varied and challenging. Starting off with mundane ventures of a simple moving out exercise, the ante is quickly upped and the dial is cranked to eleven. Soon you’ll be facing increasingly different levels with weird and wonderful designs. One level riffs off Frogger; with items needing to be carried across roads and rivers, all while being chased by the frog himself, hellbent on slowing you down. Moving from this, a haunted house adds the challenge of possessed furniture that will attempt to skip town, and ghoulish ghosts who will chase you down if spotted. If an enemy does spot you – they’ll kill you – but a quick respawn quickly puts you back in the action.
Each level having a gimmick could easily become a nuisance, but Moving Out manages to differentiate each one with a sense of identity. A warehouse uses conveyors as a means to transport items, and a playful interpretation of ‘The Floor is Lava’ requires careful planning to ensure you’re not swallowed by the fiery liquid to your impending doom. It also ensures your team is kept on their toes with varying tactics needed for each new level and the challenges it poses.
The levels themselves also feature bonus objectives which increase your ranking such as slapping ghosts or breaking all the windows in a level. The time it takes you to move all the objects out the house will also reward you with a bronze, silver or gold ranking, depending on your speed. Having certain milestones to achieve keeps Moving Out from being a quick, passable party game, and elevates it into having more depth – akin to Overcooked.
The art style manages to embody a cute and fluffy persona, with an assortment of human and animal characters to take possession of. For the preview I spent my time as a lizard who wore a pirate hat and sped around in a wheelchair. Moving Out invites you not to take yourself too seriously and the amount of hilarious creations you can create is already promising. The same personality translates into its levels, with previously mentioned riffs on games such as Frogger, to using the setting of a haunted home to its full advantage. It’s a whimsical art style that makes it accessible for almost any age.
Whether Moving Out will have the same sticking power as Overcooked remains to be seen, but although it borrows a similar formula it’s evident it has an identity of its own. The levels are playful, the controls are accessible and the humour is consistent. Moving Out has the foundations to be a hit multiplayer experience when it hits Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch and PC in April. What will contribute to the mileage, however, is whether the same variety and comedy can hold together in a fully fledged game. As it stands though, I am ready to play cooperatively and fall out with my partner all over again!