Hey, you know what is a really stressful thing that friends and family often do together? Moving house. Well, what if, instead of being an anxiety-inducing test of your faith in removalists and your peers, it’s a goofy, fun time that’s only a bit stressful?
This is essentially the pitch for 2020’s Moving Out, the successful local co-op physics puzzler from Australian devs SMG Studio. You and up to three of your friends play as employees of Smooth Moves, a removalist company with a lax attitude towards property damage. Your goal is to either get items from the increasingly complex homes into your goal, or vice versa. And occasionally you have to deal with farm animals. There’s a mix of small items that one person can carry and larger items that require two people. Items can be thrown and windows smashed, whatever it takes to jam everything in the truck.
Moving Out 2 is a new and expanded version of the original. The big selling point lies in the newly included online play, which the first game sorely lacked. The core gameplay hasn’t changed much, but there is certainly a lot more game this time around. Much like the original, you’ll start in fairly standard houses, then gradually the levels become less tethered to reality. Eventually, you’ll be hopping around a handful of different worlds (or multiverses if you will, every bit of media seems to need those now), each with their own challenges. There’s a world of mages with moving platforms and moving walls, a future world with floating platforms and treadmills, a world made of destructible candy, and more. There’s a lot of variety throughout the game, and level progression isn’t linear, so you can bounce around each of the worlds. Add in bonus challenges to each level, and there’s a heap of game to enjoy here.
The game is also packed with a lot more jokes than its predecessor. As a part of the expanded story, there’s a lot more dialogue, and gags are jammed in there. They fit the tone for a series where your characters are called Furniture Arrangement and Relocation Technicians (aka F.A.R.Ts), but if I can put my comedy snob hat on for a moment, a lot of them didn’t work for me. In the beginning, especially, there’s a lot of meta-humour that doesn’t land, and some of the jokes seem to be about justifying a sequel to Moving Out. This is the video game industry, it would be stranger if you didn’t make a sequel to your successful party game. Overall, there were a lot of groans from me. Luckily, what happens once the banter stops and the game starts is fun and funny enough that it wasn’t a sore point for me.
I would also like to point out the game’s excellent assist mode, which has carried over from the first game. There are lots of toggles to change the experience to your liking, such as removing some obstacles, making time limits longer, making large items easier for one player to drag along, and more. These options are great because a game like Moving Out relies on having just the right amount of resistance in the way of the players and their goal, and you can adjust the game to get that balance right. It also makes solo play a more viable option.
Moving Out 2 is essentially more Moving Out, but now you can play online, and there’s a lot more of it to enjoy. For returning players, there’s more than enough variety to justify the purchase, and for new players looking for co-op fun, it’s still one of the better (and more accessible) options around.
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