A Brilliant Indie Game
Moving Out is quite simply a wonderful game. It’s one of those Indies that builds on the foundations that have already been built by other games to deliver something that’s fun, challenging and accessible to all age groups. In a way, Moving Out is the spiritual successor to both Donut County and Overcooked, combining the humour and simplicity of the former with the visuals and gameplay of the latter.
The scaled difficulty, which can be tweaked depending on who’s playing and what sort of challenge you want, is an ingenious inclusion and certainly one of the highlights of this title. Alongside that is a wonderfully imaginative narrative and 30 well-designed levels which combine to make Moving Out one of the best games of the year and a must-play for single players and party couch co-op enthusiasts alike.
The premise is very simple and stays true to the title of the game. You work as a Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician (or F.A.R.T for short), and help move people around the town of Packmore. Each level is broken up into different rooms and areas with physic-based items you need to move from the inside of the house to the delivery truck outside.
Items are broken up into three distinct categories – fragile, single person and two-player. The fragile items need to be moved carefully to the delivery truck while single person items can be thrown, manipulated and generally mishandled as long as they make it to where they need to go.
The final type of item requires two players and involves moving anything heavy including corner sofas, jukeboxes, washing machines and large sofas. The game does an excellent job mixing these up between the 30 levels available and what begins as a simple effort soon becomes a much more complicated and intricately designed labyrinth of traps, puzzles and dangerous obstacles to navigate.
Controlling the on-screen character is simple enough, with you holding down the action button to grab an item, another button to jump, one more to highlight the items you need to move and a fourth button used to throw said items. The placement of the jump button on the key-pad is particularly problematic though (and it’s one that’s tricky for both the Switch and PS4), requiring you to jiggle the thumb sticks for both players at the same time as holding the two buttons for holding and throwing the item.
For single player items this is relatively straight forward but it does make larger items very cumbersome to throw toward your destination, combining this button pressing with a second player doing the exact same thing at the same time. While this isn’t a deal breaker, one level later on makes throwing a necessity and if you haven’t nailed the mechanics by then you’ll almost certainly run into problems.
The campaign levels begin simply enough though with a tutorial that get you accustomed with how to play before opening up with simple houses to clear and progressing through to more challenging levels. Along the way you’re greeted with a simple narrative involving your chosen characters building up a reputation around town before being coerced into working for a Mysterious Stranger.
As all becomes clearer, the latter half of the story mixes things up and delivers some truly imaginative and memorable levels along the way that completely change the complexion of the game in the best possible way.
Aesthetically, Moving Out looks great and the levels play out with an overhead camera that pans up and down depending on the size of the house you’re moving items from. The isometric view-point is a highlight too and the colour palette is consistently vibrant, with a great use of colour and some lovely detailed backdrops.
The character models are well animated too, with a whole array of options for customizing your character. Along the way you do unlock new skins and character types and given the nature of the game, there’s certainly scope for some DLC to bolster out the levels and customization for your mover in the future.
Where Moving Out really shines though is in the scope of customizing its gameplay options to fit the crowd you’re playing with. From extra obstacles, more time added to the clock and items disappearing from the delivery truck once placed inside, these small but significant gameplay tweaks allow the little ones in the house to play through and have just as much fun as you.
Having completed the campaign both as a couple playing the standard difficulty and as a party of four with my 10 and 8 year old children, Moving Out is an example of how to tweak the right level of challenge while preventing it feeling too close to a breezy, unsatisfying play.
Each level has a simple timer that’s broken up into gold, silver and bronze depending on how fast you complete the level, with 3 bonus objectives added to each house in a bid to increase replayability. Completing these bonus objectives in turn unlocks coins which allow challenging arcade levels to unlock that really test your skills. These range from rotating spike blocks to a neon-lit level full of fans to move the furniture across.
These certainly aren’t for the faint of heart though and much like the last boss fight of the campaign, you’ll almost certainly run into problems if you’re not fully prepared.
There’s a great deal of humour through the game too and this cheeky, silly style will be instantly familiar to anyone who played through Donut County. Unlike that game which featured an abundance of dialogue between its short levels, here these moments are reduced to a few snippets before and after each house, which is certainly a welcome inclusion.
In between these houses is a world map that allows you to move to the next area, taking cues from Overcooked in the manner this is presented. More houses pop up on the map over time, with a handy finger pointer showing just where the next level is, and there’s a clear feeling of progression as you play through as well.
Moving Out is one of the best couch co-op games to be released in quite some time and combines the best elements of Donut County and Overcooked to create this hybrid of endless fun. The gameplay tweaks are smartly implemented, allowing both kids and adults alike to enjoy it, and the campaign is fun, full of great humour and increasingly elaborate levels.
With a vibrant aesthetic, a simple but effective gameplay loop and plenty of levels to chew through, Moving Out is easily one of the best Indies of the year and a must-play for sure.
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Verdict - 8/10