The upcoming SMG Studio and Devm Games collaborative party game Moving Out is set to move out of its development stage and move in with all of the other games on store shelves on April 28 of this year, but we've managed to infiltrate the virtual moving company ahead of time. While we didn't get to play a heap of different maps, we did get to help six people move their stuff out of their houses (if you count the tutorial stage) and managed to encounter some truly whacky scenarios along the way.
In Moving Out, you play as a character of your own design, a character who can wear various accessories or heads. If the latter confused you, let's clarify by letting you know that we ended up playing as a man (or it could have been a woman, we're honestly not 100% sure) with a toaster for a head, complete with burnt toast that popped out of their toaster-head when lifting heavy objects. After picking a character (and don't worry, you can play as a human, a unicorn, or a flower pot), you can either hop into a game with up to three friends or go at it solo - either way, you'll be recruited by a moving company since the entire population of Packmore wants to get the hell out of town at the same time. The company you'll be working for is Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technicians, or 'F.A.R.T.s' for short. Since we're painfully aware that we don't have any friends, we decided to accept a job as a lone mover.
The game will let you customise your characters, letting you don everything from hijabs to glasses and wheelchairs to make your true identity shine through on screen. The game also offers various accessibility features like increased time limits, dyslexia-friendly text, key rebinding on PC, user interface customisation and the option to skip levels altogether.
After having chosen to build a career as a one-man wrecking cre.. we mean moving company, six maps appeared on the screen, each one vastly different from the next, and because we're not savages, we attempted the tutorial first. What a lovely choice that turned out to be too, as we learned the basics (which are rather straight-forward) and got lovely words of encouragement throughout our learning journey to becoming a licenced F.A.R.T. employee (apparently, we were way better than the pomeranian the moving company tried training prior, so we'd call that a win) and throughout, our adventures were accompanied by a snazzy '80sesque soundtrack that pumped us up even more.
The controls are very simple and easy to get used to. You run around with the left joystick, look around with the right, pick things up off the ground or pull things from the wall by holding either trigger, throw those things (as long as those things are light enough to throw) and slap things/individuals with X, and jump with A (we used an Xbox One controller if that wasn't clear). In a way, the game reminded us of gems like The Stretchers and Overcooked, the latter of which shares a publisher with Moving Out. It's a simple game, then, but that simplicity is also what makes it so lovely. The fun does come from solving tricky puzzles, the fun part is letting one's mind run free while slapping spooky ghosts so they don't steal your furniture, jumping through windows to create shortcuts, and flailing around in a physics-based zone of pure wackiness. Of course, these games are the most fun when experiencing them with someone, and this is clearly going to be the case with Moving Out too. It was certainly fun playing solo though, even if there were several moments where we thought things like: "if only I had a friend that I could slap into that croc-infested river".
You see, the homes of Packmore are no ordinary homes. Our favourite map, for example, had us move someone out of a very haunted mansion - at least we think we were moving someone out, we could have been purging the house of what was clearly evil furniture. On this level we hunted down haunted chairs, smacked some ghosts, hopped in and out through the window, and repeated this zany routine until every piece of furniture was in the moving van, which took quite some time since the furniture would escape the moving van if we let it.
Moving Out is clearly no simple moving simulator, then, it's so much more. What we will say, however, is that while we had fun playing solo, we're very much looking forward to going back and playing it with friends when the game moves to PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One on April 28.