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Moving Out

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Puzzle
Publisher: Team17
Developer: SMG Studio
Release Date: April 28, 2020


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Switch/PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Moving Out'

by Cody Medellin on Dec. 13, 2019 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

Moving Out is a zany action-puzzle moving simulator that redefines the meaning of couch co-op.

Currently, if you want a fun, chaotic multiplayer game that's available on all platforms, you'd go with the Overcooked duo of games. It might be all about the art of cooking, but between the crazy kitchen situations, the doling out of responsibilities, and various mishaps ranging from delivering an incomplete plate to burning a kitchen, there's hilarity in the stressful chaos between friends. Thanks to a demo released for The Game Awards, Moving Out just might take the crown of best chaotic multiplayer game when it hits next year.

Like Ghost Town Games' masterpiece, the premise is very simple. You play the role of a moving professional, and your job is to move the required items out of one place and into a staging area, whether that's a truck or a freight elevator. You can either do this alone or with up to three other friends, and in the demo, the locales include an office, a mansion and a one-bedroom house. As expected, each of the seemingly ordinary locales might have hazards, such as a ghost who tries to knock you out temporarily.

You already know the game is wacky when you see that your cast of movers includes a potted plant with a body, someone with a toaster head, and a chameleon working alongside a human woman. It helps that everyone here is all smiles. Even when exerting themselves, you'll see them squint to show that they're putting their all into the job, but the only sign of stress is the toaster suddenly popping out burnt toast. Coupled with an introductory video that is reminiscent of a cheap 1980s instructional video, and there's no doubt that this game wants to be a comedy.

As you might expect from a title about moving furniture, there's a physics system in place to help you fling the furniture around. The good thing is that this isn't a physics system gone out of control, so while you can chuck small boxes from one floor to another or to another person, things won't get out of control for laughs. There's a bit of realism here, so you will need two people to lift a couch or bed effectively, even though you can handle it solo if you don't mind dragging things around slowly.

The humor here comes from the fact that you're moving all sorts of objects into a truck, and you can do this however you want. The physics system means that you can't place everything in the truck as precisely as possible to maximize the space, but there's no penalty for being messy. You can go through the locale's doors like a normal person, but crashing through windows is perfectly fine as well. Chucking things to the floor is fine, and you'll move normal things, like boxes, and more eccentric things, like children's colored tubes and arcade machines. Picking up and throwing items is easy enough to do that you'll get into the habit of throwing everything into the staging area, whether or not they're part of the objective.

Perhaps the most surprising and pleasing thing about Moving Out is that it tries to go about this chaos in the calmest manner possible. Getting touched by a ghost or falling victim to a hazard isn't good, but you'll quickly respawn near the staging area to continue your job. You are timed, but time counts up instead of down, and even if you somehow take long enough to miss the bronze medal, you can still finish the job. There's no way of messing things up, so the game is a less stressful endeavor until we know how the developer plans to handle game unlocks. This breezy attitude makes for a friendlier co-op experience where you'll enjoy revisiting levels to beat your best time or try to complete secondary objectives, such as moving extra furniture into the staging area or trying to beat everything without breaking windows.

The presentation lends itself well to Overcooked comparisons. The bright cartoon colors are inviting, and even the spookiest places look rather warm. The characters are adorable to look at due to the aforementioned permanent grins. The frame rate is absolutely solid, and the only criticism would be that the '80s synth-style music is a little low, even if you go into the options and pump up the volume to compensate.

Moving Out is a laugh riot. Between the sensitive physics, the various locales, and the chaotic fun, the game can't help but deliver pure joy in the simple act of moving furniture. It also helps that there's no actual fail state, and with the addition of side objectives once the player defeats a level, there are many reasons to return to the same level, aside from a faster time. We can't wait for the full release of Moving Out and the chaotic fun that'll go along with it.

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