Hands-on with Aussie made indie game Moving Out
From the moment you start playing, Moving Out grabs hold of you and refuses to let go. It might be the 1980s aesthetic, the adorable, bobble-headed characters, the absurd team-based gameplay…or, it might be absolutely everything. Whatever it is, Moving Out is brilliant. It’s whacky, fun, silly and entirely addictive.
I had the opportunity to go hands-on with Moving Out at SMG Studio’s Melbourne office with three other gaming journalists and I swear, I’ve not laughed that much while playing a video game since Mario Tennis on N64.
Moving Out is a game that’s been designed for couch co-op (there’s not even any online play) and from what I’ve played so far, it’s going to be wildly successful.
Described as a “ridiculous physics-based moving simulator,” on the surface, Moving Out looks similar to Overcooked. However, the only real similarities the titles share are the overhead camera angle and the idea of manic co-operation. Overcooked requires precision and unfaltering teamwork, Moving Out does not.
Sure, teamwork is going to get you through the game more quickly, but more often than not, working together as a team is going to lead to hilarious failures and a whole lot of laughs. Levels in Moving Out are small, self-contained buildings filled with furniture. Players are required to move all of the furniture from the building, into their moving truck.
Small items can be carried by one player alone, while larger objects require two players working together. Even when playing with three or four players, the maximum number required to carry any given object is only two. According to SMG Studio Head Ash Ringrose, Moving Out, while played with four players, is essentially two teams of two working together.
“There’s nothing that forces you to be four players all doing the same thing at the same time. That’s less frustrating than having all four, but tuning the game for three players was the hardest.
“You’ve got two people doing something and then, ‘what’s the other person doing?’ So it’s up to that person to maximise their time. They could be a ghost bodyguard or they could be tidying up the truck while the others are moving the furniture.”
And yes, Ghost Bodyguard could be a legit job in Moving Out. One level I played was set in a haunted house and ghosts kept attempting to stop our progress. By giving them a swift slap, they’d run away for a while and stop making us drop our precious cargo.
Moving Out is set during the 1980s in Packmore, essentially Anytown USA and according to Ringrose, setting Moving Out then happened for a couple of reasons.
“The 80s are the most fun decade,” he tells me. “You know, look it up, everyone had a lot of fun for multiple reasons and aesthetically, it’s really interesting.” Another reason why the 80s works for well for Moving Out is the nostalgia factor. People in their 30s, who have their own kids now, grew up during the 80s and there are a lot of nice memories attached to that period.
While a pre-order bonus lets players play as a koala named Bruce, Ringrose tells me that Packmore doesn’t have any Australian influence and is more “global 80s, which is very Americana 80s.” That being said, Ringrose stresses that it’s not America. He likes to refer to Moving Out as an 80s cartoon which is pretty spot on.
It’s a really vibrant and colourful game and the pastels and fluoro of the 80s make Moving Out leap from the screen the same way the best cartoons in the 80s did. It’s not just the visuals that reference the 80s either with the entire soundtrack sourced from Lenny Macaluso’s back catalogue. Macaluso co-wrote The Touch with Stan Bush and if you know that song, you’ll know what to expect when playing Moving Out.
Aside from the chaos, the 80s and the softcore metal, playing Moving Out is incredibly intuitive. Characters can move, slap, carry items, throw them and jump. They move swiftly around the levels, slapping and smacking things out of their way and shoving other characters while carrying fridges, couches, boxes and more.
Throwing items is a great way to quickly get them from A to B, however, there are some fragile items. If you throw those items and someone doesn’t catch them, they’ll break. That being said, breaking a fragile item doesn’t lead to any punishment, in fact, making any kind of mistake in Moving Out doesn’t punish the players in any way. Instead, everyone just gets on with the job at hand.
Ringrose told me that initially, Moving Out included a scoring system but found that players were being too gently, too ginger and taking too long which was taking the fun, chaotic nature out of the game. With scoring removed, players are free to smash fragile items, throw fridges downstairs, fall in rivers, get run over by cars and just keep on playing.
Again, just like an 80s cartoon. No permanent consequences.
While I was only able to play a handful of levels the final game will include 35 story levels and a number of arcade levels and ‘Greatest Moves in History’ vignettes. The story levels are those you can see in the screenshots and in the trailers while the arcade levels feature a Tron aesthetic and are focused more on different mechanics and arcadey action.
The Greatest Moves in History levels are focused on one thing and might be 30 seconds or five minutes long. Ringrose describes them as a silly story that couldn’t quite fit into the campaign. One of the Greatest Moves in History levels I was shown featured a tonne of rakes and looked really familiar...
Moving Out is already a tonne of fun from what I’ve seen and played. Hopefully, that fun can sustain the duration of the experience and can translate to single-player as well as multiplayer.
It will be available on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One on April 28, 2020.