You get an idea of Moving Out's tone when you're designated a F.A.R.T in the first sixty seconds; a Furniture Arrangement and Removal Technician. Much like that joke, the game is is silly, puerile and, unfortunately, a little bit lacklustre.
Taking its cues from the frantic likes of Overcooked, Moving Out sees you and up to three friends enter a number of different spaces such as typical suburban homes, corporate offices or less conventional spaces such as a farm full of panicking livestock. Once there, your aim is to carry all the highlighted objects to your removal truck as quickly as possible. Each level is ranked according to how long you take, with Gold awarded for speedy work. You've got a good view of what you're stripping down at all times, your characters move at a decent clip and it generally all feels nice.
The controls are easy to grasp and logically placed. Your customisable character propels themselves with just the right amount of looseness, and your key moves – drag, pick up, throw, slap and jump – perform reliably. The meat of the gameplay is in getting those objects to the moving truck at speed, which means learning the best way to manipulate the physics in squeezing cumbersome items through narrow doorways, finding out how far you can throw an item and just how it's going to roll or bounce when it lands; it's finicky, but in a way that's clearly by design. We've got a fun set of systems here and the game assuredly feels good to play – it's just a shame that the level design doesn't push the player towards any kind of intensity.
The major problem with Moving Out is that, frankly, it's just not crazy enough. The frantic feel of its inspirations is distinctly lacking as each player's task is the same – get that furniture on the truck. Sure, some objects are heavy enough that it's tricky for a solo player to move them, but once you have a friend on the job things are just entirely too breezy.
You'll rarely be in one another's way, so the task is a very single-minded and simplistic matter of going through the motions to grab everything. There's no panic, no sense of frenetic madness, and games like this really need that to be memorable. We'd imagine the conversations about this game after the fact – "Remember that time we moved that sofa out, and it was fairly uneventful?" – but there probably won't be any.
That said, there's a lot to appreciate here. Graphically, it's a bit of a treat – colourful, nicely stylised and most importantly it performs brilliantly, even in handheld mode. The music is delightfully reminiscent of 1980s game show themes, which suits the action well and adds to the humour of it all. In fact, the humour is generally funny and used sparingly enough that it never becomes irritating.
There's also a refreshingly extensive suite of accessibility and assist options – so extensive, in fact, that it frankly shames most games' attempts at the same. On a basic level you can scale the UI, add subtitles, make the text clearer, but the fully-fledged assist mode lets you simply deactivate or mitigate any sticking points. For example, normally piling up the furniture in the moving truck is one of the trickier elements of Moving Out, but if that frustrates you it's simple to toggle it off. You can also make the objects you're carrying lighter, or increase the time limit thresholds for easier Gold finishes. Don't want any of these compromises? Don't use them! But for those who do need or want that assistance, their inclusion is nothing less than praiseworthy.
It brings to mind the idea that maybe approaching Moving Out looking for a serious challenge is the wrong way to be going about things. Indeed, even when playing solo – which you really shouldn't – we had next to no difficulty getting those top-ranked times. This is a game that a lot of people will have fun with – it's not demanding in the way similar games like the aforementioned Overcooked or Catastronauts are, but is that necessarily a bad thing? Almost anyone can play Moving Out; the developers have gone out of their way to ensure that. Get together with the family and it's hard to imagine it failing to raise a smile.
Played in the mindset of having old-fashioned fun rather than pushing your gaming skills to their limits, Moving Out has quite a lot to offer. It looks good, sounds good and plays well; it's just a shame there isn't a little bit more to get your teeth into. It's a lot of fun causing chaos with friends – throwing toasters through windows or trying to balance that last lampshade on the back of an over-stocked removal truck – but it's just not resonant enough as a co-operative experience to stick in your mind. A very good effort, but in our view, just too slight to be a lasting classic.