Moving Out (Switch) Review
Publisher Team17 struck gold with Overcooked. The manic cooking party game was a surprise hit, with the crazy kitchen antics finding an audience at parties and game nights across the globe. The combination of colourful characters, simple controls and the perfect level of wackiness combined with a routine task made for a formula they felt could be applied again in a different setting for similar success.
With the roadmap set, they have handed the keys for the truck to SMG Studios with Moving Out.
If you have ever played the aforementioned kitchen chaos simulator, you’ll immediately feel right at home here. Choose from a selection of colourful characters, hop in a truck and drive across a cartoony overworld filled with various buildings filled to the brim with furniture just waiting to be moved. It all feels very much like a companion game to Overcooked, from the art style to the character design, the zany sense of humour, and even the way you drive your truck around the overworld. This game adheres very much to the blueprint set out before it and makes for a great multiplayer experience, even if it fails to quite reach the heights of its inspiration.
Each building in Moving Out is a new challenge packed to the rafters with furniture that requires your human (or lizard, dog, toaster, unicorn, or whatever you choose) muscles to be heaved into your moving truck. You are given a quick flythrough of the interior before you get to work dashing to grab the highlighted furniture within the allotted time. Objects range from small packing boxes and microwaves to chairs and refrigerators, all the way up to beds and large couches. You will also often come across more challenging items such as L-shape lounges, enormous plush giraffes or fragile boxes of goods that cannot be thrown.
Half of the challenge in each level occurs in your head before you even begin. It is in your best interest to plan and decide what should be moved first, lest a giant bed keep getting in the way of your other movements. You also need to plan what order things get put on your truck, as filling it up with small items first can make the larger objects difficult to fit on board. There is also a layer of strategy as you consider if there is a group of smaller items you can throw across the stage for more convenient access later.
The basic controls of a simple grab, throw and jump serve as your main tools, but you can also lay some smackdown on things in the environment to your advantage, which you will need to do as more complex stage elements are introduced. The core mechanics evolve nicely to introduce creatures such as ghosts that can force a respawn, new puzzles such as switches and levers to operate doors and other features that alter the playing field. Enough new ideas are introduced to keep things fresh throughout the entirety of the relatively brief campaign.
There are thirty stages for you to master throughout the humorous and colourful story. Each stage takes anywhere from five to ten minutes to complete depending on your household furnishing relocation talents. They each have a challenging gold medal target time, as well as three bonus objectives to complete. These can be straightforward tasks such as not breaking any windows or picking up a bonus item for your truck. Some, however, are much difficult to accomplish or even decipher, as the objective description does not always spell out exactly what you need to do. These bonus objectives and gold medal targets add some much-needed replay value to the experience and will keep your coming back long after the credits roll.
As with Overcooked, it has been designed with multiplayer in mind. Each of the game’s stages can be played solo or with up to three friends, with the difficulty scaling accordingly. Target times remain the same, but as the player count increases so do the number of furniture pieces required to be loaded into your truck. When going it alone, you can move heavier objects like beds by yourself, but with two or more players you will need a partner to help shift these larger loads. Having a second lifter also allows you to time a swing throw, which opens more possibilities for working through each level.
The additional hands will not always make life easier though. Later stages can have small platforms or dangerous hazards that require precision navigation. The second player takes up extra space on that platform and increases the challenge of having to coordinate movements together. These factors, when combined with the slippery feel of the characters’ feet, can result in more falls and deaths than if you were playing solo. With that said, the trade-off is undoubtedly worth it, as it is the kind of game that is far more enjoyable with a few friends. The game also features an Assist Mode with a suite of options to make the experience accommodating for players of any skill level.
Sadly, you will need to be content with working together, as there is no competitive multiplayer mode of which to speak. Online multiplayer is also disappointingly absent, but it is undoubtedly a game designed to be played on a couch with friends. You can unlock a collection of minigames with the objective medals you earn throughout the campaign that you can also play with friends. They help to flesh out the package but are not something you will likely return to time and time again.
Moving Out sadly lacks the manic panic that is almost constant in Overcooked. Whereas that was a constant juggle of orders running out of time, burger patties catching on fire and no clean plates being available, there is little in this game that induces that same level of stressful but exciting mayhem. You always have the target time to beat, but outside of that, almost nothing requires your immediate attention over anything else. The lack of that tension of having to multitask a hundred things makes for a more placid experience, and as such feels like it is missing that explosive spark.
Moving Out is a fun party game that is at its best when you are screaming at your friend to pivot as you awkwardly attempt to rotate an L-shape couch through a winding corridor too small for the task. It certainly has its moments, but unfortunately, it lacks enough of these to escape the shadow of Overcooked and rise to the same ranks of blissful pandemonium. The absence of competitive multiplayer and online play also hurts, but if you love these types of party games you can still find a good time waiting for you here.
+ Fun co-op experience
+ Witty writing and humour
+ Creative and challenging bonus objectives
- Lacks a chaotic spark
- No competitive multiplayer
- No online play