The original Moving Out was not only one of the more successful and charming runs at the “chaotic co-op sim” crown worn at the time by the likes of Overcooked, but it was a neat little Aussie success story with the folks at SMG Studio behind the wheel of the world’s hardest-working removalist truck. Fast forward three years and the team is back with a full-on sequel, revisiting the concept with an itemised list of new ideas and an already-solid foundation to build on and around.
As someone who’s just done the end-of-lease moving dance, a journey I had the distinct privilege of paying what might have been the world’s worst professional movers to accompany me on, I was excited to jump back into Moving Out to prove that I could have done an infinitely better job at it myself. Forgetting, of course, that the poor folks at Smooth Moves Inc. have a lot more to deal with than millennials with too many overpriced gaming collectibles to fret over.
Moving Out 2 opens with an excellent animated intro that perfectly captures the vibe of its 80s setting, before launching into its sizeable campaign. The team at Smooth Moves has run into a spot of bother after their boss, a sentient cardboard-box-person, accidentally rips open the fabric of time and space during an attempt to boost company efficiency by 90% with 90% less employees – a classic workplace caper. With the town of Packmore sporting some fresh new gaping portals into alternate universes, it’s up to you and the Smooth Moves crew to put everything back in its rightful place and restore order to the moververse, one truckload at a time.
The game’s campaign follows a pretty similar structure to before with a handful of “worlds” containing multiple levels (over 50 in total this time around) to play through, gradually unlocked as you complete objectives and raise your F.A.R.T. (Furniture Arrangement and Relocation Technician) ranking.
Each level presents its own spin on the task of loading up your truck with the correct bits of furniture, appliance and decor within a time limit. Like last time, what starts out as a mad dash to get everything in the truck as fast as possible while fighting intentionally-wobbly physics and physical conundrums in early stages quickly becomes so much more with out-of-this-world levels adding new opportunities and challenges outside of the realm of good customer service.
One level might see you and your team attempt to sort magical baubles onto their corresponding freight trains, or use drones to carve out new paths or cross chasms, there are even levels designed around moving in which challenge players to put items from the truck into their correct places within a building. Without spoiling too much, the situations in Moving Out 2 get a lot more wacky a lot faster than in the original, almost to a fault. There were times when I’d be flinging giant candies into basketball hoops with a slingshot or jumping through magical portals and wished I was just hilariously trying to drag an L-shaped couch through a narrow hallway or flex my Tetris skills to fix the horrendous packing job my partner had done on the truck.
It’s ultimately a good problem to have though, as the majority of Moving Out 2’s gimmicks make for a perfect blend of problem solving, teamwork and laugh-out-loud catastrophe when playing with others – which remains the undisputed best way to play this game. Whether you’re playing in couch co-op or (for the first time in this sequel) cross-platform online with up to three others, the game does a great job of scaling the challenge of its frankly loopy concepts for all team sizes and skills. I did find that a few levels veer wildly into overly punishing or absurdly easy territory seemingly at random, but with so many on offer a couple of duds doesn’t hurt too much.
There are also some great assist options on-hand to help smooth things out if the team isn’t gelling or on even ground in terms of capabilities, like extended time limits, lighter items or even the ability to have objects disappear into the ether once they’re on the truck to make packing easier. I can’t speak so much to the actual accessibility of the experience but the settings there are fairly basic. With increased gameplay and visual complexity in the sequel it might still present some insurmountable hurdles, but the assists are definitely a welcome feature. The game manages to get a pass on some frustratingly inconsistent control and collision stuff as well, purely by virtue of frustrating inconsistency being its whole schtick, but it does wear a bit for anyone genuinely trying to achieve those Pro times and extra challenges.
SMG has absolutely nailed the presentation though, building on the visual blueprint set out by its predecessor and polishing it up to a sheen to be much more lush, vibrant and dynamic. It feels much stronger in its identity too, coming across as an overall more high-quality production. It looks nicer, but also more cohesive, and far richer. There’s plenty to unlock again as a reward for completing a litany of optional objectives in levels as well as discovering hidden secrets, including challenging new Arcade levels and over 30 characters to play as once you’ve unlocked them all.
Massive props has to go to Moving Out 2’s writers, who’ve really out-punned themselves in this effort. In fact, I reckon this game probably has the highest per-page saturation of puns in a video game to date, and the dialogue as a whole is thoroughly entertaining at every step of the way.
Moving Out 2 is an accomplished sequel, building on what made the first game great and really honing in on its presentation and content offering. It's not a radical departure, and not all of its levels are designed equally, but overall this is another feather in SMG Studio's cap.
Still a whole lot of fun with friends, and now online!
Overall presentation and content offering is much stronger this time
The writing and humour are A+
Scales well to different group sizes and abilities
Could have done with just a few more "traditional" Moving Out levels