One bright spot in the atrocious year that was 2020 was the release of Aussie-made Moving Out by SMG Studios. This passionate team created a beautifully colourful and delightfully goofy experience that tasked players with inelegantly tossing furniture into a moving van against a ticking clock. The pleasant implementation of local coop alongside plenty of playful design choices and some hilariously and deliberately awkward physics-based controls made for a solid party game. Add environmental hazards, fun optional objectives, a lovely coat of polish, and a silly slapping mechanic and you have the recipe for what ended up being a boast-worthy local release.
Moving Out 2 follows the same core concept. Up to four players can jump into a game together as their moving van takes them from one residence to the next. Each location is a new level with new objectives and time-based scores. Waddle into the locations and work cooperatively to move the necessary items out and into the van. A heavy sofa? That’ll require two players to move! A long and awkward corridor to maneuver through? No stress, simply toss the furniture through the window! A series of bizarre environmental hazards ludicrously littering the environment and getting more and more inconvenient as the game progresses? Well, that’s just par for the course here!
Jumping into the moving van and kicking off your Moving Out 2 experience, you’ll instantly see how approachable this title is. Some cute dialogue sets the not-so-serious tone as you pick a zany character and then jump into an easy-to-understand tutorial. Players absolutely do not need to have played the original, with Moving Out 2 reintroducing all of the basic concepts and terms. The bright colours and enchanting animations showcase a positive vibe that never lets off. Sometimes these cooperative simulation games can venture into stressful territory, so to have Moving Out 2 constantly reminding you of its whimsy is an absolute delight. It’s hard to feel the pressure of the cooperative and time-based gameplay when characters are constantly talking about ludicrous things and encountering silly situations. Maintaining that happy atmosphere is one of Moving Out 2’s biggest strengths.
One criticism of the original Moving Out was a lack of online coop, something that was compounded by an unforeseeable global event that stopped people from coming together for local play. Truly unfortunate timing, but a shame nonetheless. So when the sequel was announced with online play built-in, that was reason enough to get excited. Taking things one step further, Moving Out 2 also allows for cross-play, meaning players can team up regardless of their platform.
“…it’s clear that accessibility and approachability is a core tenant of the game’s design philosophy.”
Playing locally on Switch and it’s clear that accessibility and approachability is a core tenant of the game’s design philosophy. Massive props to SMG Studios for creating a game built for all ages, needs, and skill levels. Assist mode simply makes the game more inclusive, allowing you to tailor the experience to your requirements. That inclusivity is also found in character selection, where every character can be wheelchair-bound. The range of zany characters is fun, with a select few only purchasable as additional DLC.
The gameplay experience of Moving Out 2 is familiar to those who experienced the original. The developers clearly took on a ‘bigger and better’ approach, not changing anything too drastically but finding ways to incorporate new ideas elegantly where they can. Having little minigames peppered throughout your play is enjoyable, uncovering new hazards and objects is always a delight, and even narrative moments will spring up when you’re not quite expecting it.
Each level feels distinctly unique and they often bring with them a thematically appropriate new obstacle or mechanic. It helps keep things fresh despite some occasionally ‘samey’ controls.
Moving Out 2 can occasionally move into the realm of repetition, with basic gameplay mechanics and ideas not always as enjoyable by the tenth location as they are in the first. I also found the humour unfortunately hit-or-miss, with the game trying very hard to be silly at almost all times. The F.A.R.T. (Furniture Arrangement & Relocation Technician) acronym started to feel a bit juvenile and could have been left behind in the original, for example. However, the game’s achievements far outweigh its shortcomings.
I can easily see Moving Out 2 as a perfect household game, especially amongst those with young kids or people not as familiar with gaming. It’s just so easy to get stuck into and kill some time while sharing a chuckle over the shenanigans on-screen. With the addition of online multiplayer, cross-play, and a bigger and better philosophy, I have no doubt Moving Out 2 will simply find an even bigger audience than the original to share in its entertaining whimsy and tomfoolery.