You know and I know one very simple unquestionable truth about life. Moving house sucks. Video games, as is their nature, allow us escapism from the unmitigated torture of daily life and gives us freedom to explore giant alien worlds or get lost in deep, complex and wonderful narratives. But sometimes they’re about moving house and you want to throw controllers through windows.
Fortunately, DevM Games’ Moving Out takes the absolute worst day of your life™ and has somehow turned it into one of the most fun party games we’ve played in a long time.
In various reviews and features regarding Moving Out you would have seen the game being compared to publisher Team17’s hugely successful Overcooked series. It’s difficult to avoid this comparison as their foundations are very much built from the same blueprint. The visuals are bright and breezy and features a light-hearted take on a stressful activity with added silliness peppered atop. You’re also against the clock whilst attempting to throw out as many products as you can to get your ranks up. On paper it could almost read like a spin-off, fortunately Moving Out can stand on its own away from the shadow of Overcooked with a far more tactical approach, lending some genuine consideration to each level before you begin.
As Overcooked’s food orders come in one at a time with no real way of knowing what’s coming next, Moving Out will pan over each house you have to empty before each level begins, allowing you to see where to start and what you could possibly leave to the end. In each level there’s a selection of items which can only be carried by two players, so it’s advisable to get them out of the house first and shove them into the corner of your moving van, which very quickly runs out of space the more you fill it up. These items – such as sofas and beds – are almost always cumbersome, in particular the sofas which can be in L shapes, so getting them around corners makes the game feel a little like Gang Beasts in the way you have to navigate around.
Fortunately, you’re not punished for smashing the absolute hell out of the rest of the house surrounding the specific items you need to move, so there’s a little bit of freedom in how to get the damn items to the van. There’s plenty to be moving from each house you visit so this pan over each area is crucial in working out what you need to be moving before anything else.
The majority of each level is smaller pieces that one person can carry (or throw out of windows) to the van, but of course certain boxes and items are more fragile than others. The games initial tutorial does a stellar job of preparing you for what’s to come, but it’s not quite as straightforward in the actual campaign. Each level is ranked in a three-tier system of Bronze, Silver and Gold. Essentially if you want to be getting those higher ranks you’re gonna have to get good at throwing and catching with your co-op buddy. When boxes are piling up and you need to get them to the van as quickly as possible, it’s an essential mechanic which isn’t the easiest to pull off at first. Once it’s mastered it’s second nature and you will wonder how you attempted each level without it.
And if you haven’t guessed already, what should probably be a game that is already on the brink of ‘rather difficult’ soon descends into utter chaos as you’re rushing frantically against the clock to ensure everything is removed from the house and piled up into your van. Moving Out shares the Overcooked trend of creating levels that make it nigh-on impossible to attempt without pure anarchy breaking out, which of course makes it all the more fun. Where does this game take you? Well, you’ll be moving items out of an office building that’s full of ghosts that like to knock you out, a house with an oil spillage out on the road, a level featuring a rather busy road and a river you need to navigate across (think Frogger) or, in one of the most absurdly ridiculously fun levels I’ve played in a video game for some time, on a farm moving chickens, cows and pigs that have a habit of jumping off the van unless you place them behind hay bales.
The aforementioned placement of items in the moving van is of the utmost importance. Throwing everything in a state of panic won’t do you any good when it comes to finding space for your entire haul. I personally took on a tactic of adding the two-player items first and chucking everything else on top, which allowed space for smaller, more fragile boxes to be pushed into corners. There’s certain levels where you’ll need to maneuver kids tunnels out as just one person which, if I’m honest, had me shouting rather loudly at the screen. A quick replay of the first level I found one in ensured I would get that bastard thing out first and laid at the back of the van. It was enough of a timewaster getting it out of the building, I’m not gonna waste more time trying to make it fit around sofas and beds.
I certainly spent most of the time in a level sorting out placement in the vans. Early levels you’re so panicked you just throw everything and see what stays. Once I had got my head around the mechanics it became far more methodical. It’s amazing how much calmer the game becomes once everything is out of the house and Moving Out becomes another version of Tetris.
Is Moving Out fun to play on your own with AI? Short answer, no. As with most games of its ilk it only comes alive when you’re playing with a friend and experiencing the chaos together. Inexplicably there’s no online co-op option, a omission I find absurd due to the nature of the game. I’m all for more local co-op experiences churned out in an era of multiplayer online arena’s, but at least give us the option? Upon seeing the initial reveal trailer I thought how much fun it would be to play online with the Finger Guns gents. Alas, it’s not to be. I hope a sequel, should there be one, rectifies this.
It’s strange but it’s like Moving Out knows it should have an online component. Should you be playing the game with friends or family there’s a fantastic ‘Assist Mode’, which will allow you to take down the difficulty of each level in certain areas of your choosing. Whether it be extending the time or making two-player items easier to carry on your own along with tweaking certain features for people with dyslexia or increasing text sizes. There’s a swathe of accessibility options which DevM should be commended for, it’s strange more video games aren’t more openly welcoming of players who aren’t traditionally ‘gamers’ in a similar way. Hopefully this opens the doors, because it’s a fantastic addition.
If you have people to play it with you’ll have an absolute blast. As you tear through the game and begin to unlock rewards you’ll get access to various minigames and new characters – though are purely cosmetic – which extend the games playability to near infinite levels as you battle on through the insanity to get those Golds on every level.
There’s a ton to love about Moving Out and it comes recommended as a new title to place in your party playlists next to Jackbox and Overcooked. It’s just a shame you don’t have the option to also move out that enormous online shaped elephant in the room.
Moving Out is available on April 28th on PC, PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Developer: DevM Studios
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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