Usually, when writing a review, I like to leave a seed of doubt in the introduction. However, my time spent playing Moving Out was amongst the most joyful, silly and just plain fun experiences I’ve had with a video game in years. So, let me get to the point: if you and your family are looking for a fun co-op party game to enjoy together, then unequivocally, without hesitation, you should buy Moving Out. Right now. Go do it.
Still here? I guess I’d best provide some more justification then. Moving Out casts you and up to three other players as Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technicians – or F.A.R.T.s for short (chortle). Your mission is simply to remove all the furniture – and on occasion animals – from somebody’s home and stick it in the back of your delivery van. Do it quickly enough and you’ll earn a medal. Do it silly enough and you’ll gather tokens which unlock bonus levels to play in the arcade. There’s some surface level parallels to the co-op shenanigans of Overcooked! (not least that they share a publisher), but Moving Out has its own style and different challenges to overcome.
Moving furniture is, surprisingly, an unbelievably cathartic experience. If you, like me, have a touch of OCD and are a bit of a clean freak, then you too will delight in teaming up to drag a bed through a virtual house, knocking over vases, breaking through walls, and covering the floor in muddy footprints as you go. With Moving Out being a physics-based puzzler, your cohort will cause sheer chaos as you try to drag a sofa in slightly different directions.
Can’t squish it through that front door? Just lob it through the window instead. There’s no punishment for the horrendous damage you’ll cause, indeed the design of each level encourages it. Your only remit is to get that furniture in the back of your van, fragile objects and household pets be damned.
Luckily for you, the busy town of Packmore is full of work for F.A.R.T.s like you. You’ll drive your delivery van around town on the way to find the next level, but even this potentially throw away map screen becomes a hot zone of fun and frolics. My four year old delighted in driving this indestructible van. Cars, signs and postboxes are crashed into and sent spiralling away in a hail of cartoon debris – it’s as if gravity isn’t really that big of a deal. Once you’re in a level you’ll find a small, self-enclosed location that is often brilliantly designed. You can trundle through the level with little thought or, if you’re a completionist, you’ll have to orchestrate some tight team work to set a new record removal time.
Levels can even be multi-tiered affairs and this enhances the puzzling side of Moving Out. One snow-bound chalet requires you to launch the furniture down icy slopes to gain the best time, whilst a bonkers mad farm level demands that you block pigs, sheep and a hefty heifer into the back of your delivery van by hastily constructing a wall of hay. The thing that I loved about Moving Out though is this additional challenge can be completely ignored, depending on the skill of the players. The challenge is there if you want it, but if your team would rather run around, leaping through windows, throwing turtles and slapping each other, then that’s totally OK too.
Indeed developers DevM Games and SMG Studio have catered for both styles of play with a very generous ‘Assist Mode.’ Here you can set the games difficulty to make it the perfect challenge for every player amongst your friends or family, regardless of thier skill level. Completion times can be extended and gameplay mechanics can be simplified, you can even skip levels that are blocking your progress. It’s a very thoughtful touch in a game full of them.
Certain objects require two of more players to team up to move them together, but if you’re playing with a younger gamer then this setting can be changed as well. You can focus on moving the furniture whilst they can dip in and out when they want to. Maybe they’ll want to help for a bit before finding little secrets in each level; from scoring goals to shooting hoops, there’s plenty to do.
So are there any problems? Well, if you’re after a single player or an online experience then Moving Out is not the game you are looking for. This is straight up couch co-op only, but in my opinion, it’s all the better for its of vision. There were also a few little glitches that my partner and I encountered, such as when an item of furniture once disappeared mid-transit only to respawn at its original location; it was weird but we got over it. Then there was the time a sofa got so wedged in a doorway that we could not move it at all – my urgent and bombastic shouting of ‘PIVOT! PIVOT!’ did nothing to avail the situation – forcing a restart. There were other occasions where the physics misbehaved, avatars got stuck in furniture, refrigerators glued into walls, that kind of thing. If anything, these glitches made the experience even more hilarious.
Moving out is a funny, funny game. I’m not directly referring to the script here, though that’s funny too, more in the way that the freedom of the game’s mechanics allow for the players themselves to be funny. My son’s laughter was non-stop during one level, as he realised he could slap a door into daddy’s face and that it would then swing back into him, sending us both sprawling. It was then that I realised, I’d been laughing non-stop as well.