Review: Moving Out Turns Moving Day into a Fun Co-Op Experience

Moving Out is a fast-paced, arcade-style co-op that leans into carefree, chaotic, over-the-top gameplay.

Moving Out
Photo: Team17 Digital

Moving can be a tedious affair, but thankfully, Moving Out is far from a realistic moving simulator. Across this fast-paced co-op—which charmingly leans into carefree, chaotic, over-the-top gameplay—you’ll travel from unusual suburban homes to muddy farms and trap-filled factory floors. At each job, you’re actively encouraged to break furniture, and rules of etiquette, if it helps to more rapidly load your truck: Why lug a burdensome copier into an elevator when you can just chuck it over the balcony?

Moving Out doesn’t just de-emphasize the boring, serious parts of moving, it turns the entire process into an absurdly comic one. Your team of Furniture Arrangement and Relocation Technicians includes such colorful characters as egg-headed Sunny and ramen-cup-faced Ramone, and your journey through the aptly named town of Packmore is peppered with delightful puns: The Aaahtari Offices are haunted by a ghost, the front lawn of 21 Slick Street is covered in oil from a leaky nearby tanker, and so on.

Wacky mechanics and obstacles abound throughout the game’s 50 levels, from Dread Manor’s haunted floating chairs to the Flamethrower Factory’s titular deathtraps. Each level adds another zany complication to your job. While at first your biggest challenge may be manipulating large or oddly shaped furniture through tortuous hallways, the increasingly outlandish assignments soon become full-on obstacle courses that not only require players to optimize their routes, but to nimbly move in unison across collapsing walkways.

Like the gameplay, the story also proves itself to be more than capable of indulging the bizarre. The plot, delivered as dialogue between overenthusiastic employees at the start and end of each job, shifts away from a focus on the day-to-day grind of moving, sprinkled with the characters’ light commentary about their work, to a showdown with the evil, alien Pack Rats who’ve secretly been using your movers to steal all of Packmore’s furniture. Having a more active goal than just taking on new clients paves the way for action-heavy, non-traditional jobs, like a heist in which you steal back packages hidden aboard a runaway train, flinging them across the tracks and onto your truck, and a boss battle against a mech-suit-wearing adversary who uses missiles, lasers, and flames to keep you from repossessing his stash.

The only downside to the game’s action-heavy second half is that it largely lacks for the Untitled Goose Game-like appeal of the earlier levels, such as the Pepperoni Palace, where pizza is strewn across tables and floors, and the luxe Summer Chalet, whose hills are dotted with adorable snowmen. These locations subtly communicate a sense of day-to-day life with their atmospheric details. By contrast, there’s less lived-in charm to the later levels, like the Sealed Storehouse, but that’s inevitable, given that they boast wide open floor plans that are littered with deadly mechanisms, like lava-covered floors, instead of colorful tchotchkes.

Then again, this variety in level design keeps the game feeling fresh, especially when you factor in hidden bonus objectives that may require you to adopt entirely different approaches, like avoiding staircases, or finding and packing all of a client’s lawn ornaments. Changing the number of players further shakes things up: In a solo campaign, you’re strong enough to drag an object on your own, but when playing with others, you’ll have to work together.

All of these various challenges make Moving Out overwhelming in the best possible sense. Even better, accessibility options allow players to modify things like the number of hazards in or the maximum time for each level, which is nice if you want to play with friends of differing skill levels—and stay cordial with them after a failed level. While Moving Out takes pains to differentiate itself from real-world moving, there’s one area in which it remains the same, and that’s in the way it nails that feeling of accomplishment where, at the end of a move, something that once seemed impossible has nevertheless fallen perfectly into place.

The game was reviewed using a review code provided by Team17.

 Developer: SMG Studio, Devm Games  Publisher: Team17 Digital  Platform: PC  Release Date: April 28, 2020  ESRB: E  ESRB Descriptions: Mild Cartoon Violence  Buy: Game

Aaron Riccio

Aaron has been playing games since the late '80s and writing about them since the early '00s. He also obsessively writes about crossword clues at The Crossword Scholar.

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