Moving is a part of life most people go through at some point. Job changes, needing a smaller house when children move out, and new marriages are just some of the reasons people need to pull up stakes and find a home elsewhere. This process can be a real hassle, requiring copious amounts of heavy-lifting, not to mention the resulting potential for injury. Many folks these days opt to hire professional moving companies that will carry out and transport your furniture for you. In Moving Out, you assume the fast-paced role of a new recruit to a moving company such as this.
You begin the game as a newly certified Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician (F.A.R.T.), ready for your life as a professional mover. The game takes place in the busy town of Packmore during the 1980’s, where the moving company Smooth Moves has just started a push to make a name for themselves. Your role as a new hire is to get out there and do good work so Smooth Moves can get more business. As you complete more jobs, an overarching conspiracy starts to take shape in the town, and the moving company ends up right in the middle of it.
The plot of Moving Out is fairly thin through the first half of the game, but it becomes more interesting in the later portions. Even then, it doesn’t have a particularly riveting story. The real focus of the game is the fun you may have playing through the levels on your own or with friends, so the plot will not be a chief concern for most.
Your aim in Moving Out is to go to buildings throughout town and move furniture out of them and into your truck. You must hold ZL to grab furniture and press Y to aim and throw it. Heavier furniture either requires two people to carry, or it can be dragged if playing solo. Note that this type of furniture can only be thrown with two players. Fragile items will also be present in many jobs you take. These cannot be thrown or dropped anywhere outside of the truck or they will break. You are given a practice tutorial prior to taking any jobs, so luckily these concepts are given due time to be learned.
Before starting or continuing a game, you can pick one of several different characters. Moving Out features quite a cast, including animals and characters with inanimate objects for heads. They all perform the same on jobs, so you are free to choose whichever one strikes your fancy. You are able to unlock a few more by completing jobs throughout the game, and are free to change your character at any point between jobs. In addition, four more characters can be unlocked through a $2.99 DLC pack on the eShop.
Depending on which character you choose, there are several customization options. Different hats, eyewear, and designs are some of the things you can change to give your character some individuality, which can be especially important if you’re playing with someone using the same character. A neat bit of representation is the ability to have your character sit in a wheelchair, an option not often seen in video games.
Moving Out has an interesting take on difficulty in that the game is plenty difficult enough as is (especially as the game goes on), but it gives you several options to adjust the difficulty down to a level that works for you. These can be toggled on or off in the Assist Mode menu, presented when you start a new game, and can also be accessed from the pause menu during gameplay. Options include reducing the weight of heavy items and making furniture disappear once placed in the truck. In this way, you’re able to make the game as difficult or easy as you want instead of relying on pre-set difficulty modes.
If you ever feel your sanity slipping as you watch a couch get stuck in the door frame for the eighth time, don’t be afraid to go into the menu and toggle some features ON to adjust the experience to your liking. It’s apparent the developers wished to make sure everyone who plays has fun, so by all means, see what works for you.
Gameplay in Moving Out involves completing jobs throughout Packmore. There are a total of thirty jobs you will encounter, taking you to all kinds of homes, warehouses, and even some places outside of Packmore. Every job has bronze, silver, gold, and platinum target times to complete the level in. In addition, optional objectives are revealed after you complete the job once, which are tasks you can complete during the job that give you tokens to unlock special levels at the Arcade. Any gold medal times achieved will give you a gold medal, which unlock levels at the VHS Superstore.
You need not worry about damaging the houses you visit. Doors and windows can be broken to better move the furniture to your truck. This adds to the general humorous and frenetic tone the game has. Many other types of furniture can also be broken or jostled around as you complete jobs, such as paintings or televisions. You can also slap objects or even other players.
In general, solo gameplay can get a bit too difficult, at least at default settings. Houses start to contain many large items after the first few missions, which multiple players can deal with much more efficiently than a single player can, as these must be dragged if you’re by yourself. This can lead to an aggravating amount of time being dedicated to slowly inching around corners through the houses while you watch the clock tick away. As mentioned, the Assist Mode can alleviate this anxiety by giving you more breathing room to complete levels at a more human pace.
You should also be ready to contend with the game’s physics. Many times your character will continue spinning after rotating with a heavy item, its inertia bringing it swinging around like a wrecking ball. While it’s true this may be a reasonably accurate portrayal of how it would act in real life, the concept isn’t exactly a welcomed addition to the gameplay experience. All too often, you’ll watch the item you’re holding swing right into a hazard or over a ledge, requiring you to run back to where you got it and try again.
You travel to each job through the town in your moving truck by way of a town map. You can also visit old jobs to get better times or complete optional objectives, as well as the Arcade and VHS Superstore to complete those levels. Traveling on this map can be mindless fun in itself, since you can knock around cars and scenery. More of the town map opens up as you complete jobs.
While driving on this map, you can see the total amount of gold medals and tokens you’ve earned out of the total possible in the game. This gives an idea of how far you are from doing everything there is to do in the game, should you wish to scratch that completionist itch.
At the VHS Superstore, you can play unique levels modelled after Smooth Moves’ crazier past jobs. These are unlocked after you complete different amounts of gold medal times, a feat not easily achieved. Thankfully, these jobs are quite different than the main jobs you complete and are usually well worth the trouble needed to unlock them. Note that completing these levels does not unlock anything further.
At the same time, a few of the levels are really just areas meant for multiple players to partake in side activities for fun (e.g. a basketball court), and have no actual objectives to complete. So it’s entirely possible to work hard to unlock a level that has no real purpose for a solo player.
Tokens earned from completing optional objectives in jobs can unlock different VR levels at the Arcade. Similar to the VHS Superstore, these are unlocked at different token thresholds. Some of these are challenging but manageable, while others can be particularly bothersome to complete. Fortunately, they are entirely optional and serve only as a means to test your skills with some interesting gauntlet levels in a retro VR environment.
Moving Out is colorful in both its humor and its artistic style. The characters are cheery and cute, and the environments feature bright colors. The game takes place in the 1980’s, which is apparent in the general aesthetic of everything in the game. The televisions, musical instruments, and furniture you see in jobs are all themed to the time period, as is the music you hear throughout the game. Even the architecture is themed, with there being a VHS store and an arcade in town.
The tracks in Moving Out are upbeat, which is a good fit for the energetic nature of gameplay. True to the time period, all the music could be mistaken for the soundtrack to a 1980’s fitness video. There are only a handful of songs that play across all the game’s thirty jobs, but you might not even notice as you’re frantically chucking chairs through windows and flying across fans.
The odds are high that you will not complete every job at gold or platinum level times by the end of the game, even with Assist Mode options turned on. That’s not even mentioning the ninety optional tasks spread throughout the game’s jobs, and the optional VHS/Arcade levels you can unlock. So if you have the inclination, there is much to do after the main story. Just bring your patience if that’s the path you choose to take.
If you have people to play with, Moving Out is a fun time. If you’re a solo player, there is still plenty of fun to be had single-handedly emptying houses (and maybe breaking some things). It’s a shame that this game released in a time when having friends over isn’t a responsible scenario, so your options on how you play this game are a bit limited. The game makes attempts to balance gameplay for single players, but it’s still obvious how it’s meant to be played with others.
The difficulty options are a welcomed addition, as is the array of customization of who or what you play as. Anyone who likes quirky games with a lot of charm will find themselves smiling while playing this game. At least for the first half of the game, after which you might start grimacing in frustration. That bittersweet experience is much like the process of moving, so it could ultimately be said Moving Out is a rather authentic experience.
Final Rating: 7.5/10.