Moving Out is SMG Studio’s latest, a clever and engaging co-op based affair from the Aussie-based makers of Death Squared. In it, you and up to three friends are tasked to clear out homes, factories and even space stations, shifting boxes, furniture and livestock into a trusting moving truck.
I was charmed by the title in a recent preview, but sadly, was turned off almost immediately after starting a review copy on Xbox One at home. While this sounds like the perfect couch co-op affair, especially given the time (for those of you living in the same house and self isolating together, that is), I found a bitter taste in my mouth when finding out only one of our player team of two was able to earn Achievements as we progressed (update: SMG Studio says a fix for this will be part of a day 1 patch). Far worse, the first Achievement the game issues is tied to a ridiculous 1 Gamerscore. After throwing the controller at a couch cushion and then yelling at my husband for pushing a couch in the wrong direction, we turned the game off for the night and I resolved to continue reviewing in actual isolation.
Ridiculous Gamerscore aside — and a sleep and a deep breath later — I can’t deny that Moving Out is a treat, full of charm and busting at the seams with a variety of different shifting-based levels that award Gold, Silver or Bronze medals for effort. Story mode eases you through its mechanics before a truly difficult final boss battle while Arcade mode is all about challenge (whoever designed the first level is truly a sadist). Finally, a Memory mode is just plain silly, filled with soccer, basketball and humour that’s far superior to the random fart noises that accompany your character — a Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician, or F.A.R.T. — as he or she progresses.
While moving furniture is (perhaps surprisingly) fun on its own, each level’s Bonus Challenges add diversity with random hijinks or tasks requiring a bit of skill. Coupled with hidden collectibles like retro consoles, slappable mailboxes and sittable toilets and all influenced by 1980s pop culture, you’ll have hours of entertainment at your fingertips for a very reasonable price.
That all said, Moving Out isn’t without its share of problems. Crazy physics will sometimes mean that objects (or players) will launch into the void at a moment’s notice. More importantly, the Bonus Challenge interface needs a lot of work, especially when so much of the game is dependent on it. While most challenges will notify you when you’ve accomplished a task, some randomly don’t. Worse, other Bonus Challenges that require you to avoid an object, as an example, don’t flag when you’ve messed up; in some cases, you can spend another 7-8 minutes finishing a level only to then realise you’ll need to do it all over again.
Perhaps most annoying is that most levels have one or two Bonus Challenges that you can likely guess during your first playthrough (update: SMG Studio says a fix for this will also be part of a day 1 patch). Even if you accomplish said task on that first go, you’ll have to replay a second time to get the credit. Finally, one Bonus Challenge in particular tasks you to go avoid blue tiles, though I don’t see any in a level. There are purple, teal and yellow ones as far as I can see, and even though I’ve dodged the purple and teal ones, it’s still a no go. For a title that’s so proud of its accessibility options, I’m downright confused by the misstep.
Those low points are few and far between though, and you’ll quickly forget about youf frustrations as you move from level to level, staying up too late and telling yourself you’ll just have one more go to get that Gold medal or Bonus Challenge. While it’s great on your own, I’d imagine that those that can play the likes of Overcooked with loved one without wanting to murder them will be right at home.
One last note on that random-numbered Gamerscore on Xbox One: there are four Achievements to be mindful of, ending in 1, 1, 4 and 9 all up. Thankfully, the first two random-numbered ones you’ll likely receive will get you back to 5 and aren’t too difficult to obtain. The latter two, however, are rather difficult — while I’ve found every hidden console in the game, I’ve purposefully avoided collecting them until I know I can also complete all Bonus Challenges and keep my sanity intact. Needless to say, the whole idea takes away from my enjoyment somewhat.
Moving Out heads to Windows PC, Xbox One, PS4 and Switch on 28 April.
Moving Out was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One X, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.