Moving Out – Fun for Another Time
PS4, Xbox One, Switch,
Late November, 2019. Recent history, but also the distant past. After years of it being buried, hidden in the depths of my PS4 library, I’m finally discovering the appeal of Towerfall.
A large, empty bottle of a particularly strong Christmas beer, split between friends (and some backups waiting in the fridge), may be in large part to thank for said discovery.
It was the perfect storm. Turns out that Towerfall is great. Not sure how, or even if, I may have discovered just how much fun it could be were I to have received a review copy years back and taken a professional approach to reviewing it, stone-cold sober, notepad sat beside the cup of tar-black coffee on the table that fills the space between the living-room TV and myself.
Let’s be honest. I probably wouldn’t have.
Also, fuck it – time has been losing its traditional meaning of late, so let’s rewind a little more.
It’s now approaching the Halloween of 2016, and I’m moving into a new apartment with my girlfriend. For her, the move isn’t too far, and I’m using the spare weeks of rent cross-over to carry her smaller things to our new place while she’s on a business trip. Said new place is, by and large, fully furnished, so the bigger things that occupied her previous apartment have mostly been given away.
My own situation is a mite more complicated. For one thing, I’m in possession of a rather chunky and expensive 4K TV that far outperforms what’s included with our new pad. For another, distance. Lots of distance. And so, for the second time in my life, I call a moving company.
Here’s the rub: moving your stuff between apartments is one of those things that seems easy, and that I and others have indeed done, somewhat successfully, with help from friends. That said, accumulate enough… stuff and the task becomes harder once you move past your early twenties. More to the actual point: professional movers are amazing.
Seriously. Moving shit professionally is an art form. Watching these people move my clumsily packed boxes, to say nothing of the aforementioned TV and the desk that I am presently typing this at, is like witnessing professional Tetris, only the blocks here are way heavier and often more cumbersome.
They are absolutely worth the money.
To be honest, there may actually be a rewarding game about sensibly moving a person’s belongings from one flat to another, or helping a company transfer to a new office, that takes a methodological approach. One that paints actual movers as unsung heroes. That game might even be a perfect fit for a freelancer, cup of unsweetened coffee sat neatly beside their mouse-hand (I’m not sure why, but I am very much envisioning a PC title).
Moving Out is not that game. Moving Out would murder that game with one of those giant foam fingers that you used to see at basketball games throughout the ‘90s. Do those fingers still do the rounds? Do the ‘90s count as recent or ancient history at this point in time? Do these questions even remotely matter?
Point is, Moving Out is about capital F fun in its simplest form. Forget sinking into a copy of Moby Dick at a cafe with on-site roasted coffee, comfortable chairs and gentle jazz music playing through expertly tuned and driven speakers. That shit is lowercase fun. Moving Out is bottom shelf bourbon mixed with cola plonked carelessly on a sticky bar table, friends gathered around it shouting at each other over a Spotify playlist entitled ‘because you listened to Gangnam Style’ streamed from somebody’s phone that is connected to a bluetooth speaker that is somehow way louder than is scientifically possible.
Or, perhaps, oddly enticing ‘80s synth music in place of weird K-Pop phenomenons. Because Moving Out absolutely smashes its retro, misleadingly upbeat battered-up VHS video-tutorial soundtrack for six. Not surprising, since it’s made up of unused works from the guy who wrote The Touch. I refuse to believe that you don’t know exactly which song I’m talking about. Get off of my goddamned lawn.
Seriously, though. Take a moment to think about this choice. When searching for music to fit their eighties-set game about moving people’s property, the folks at SMG Studio got in contact with the guy who wrote the song that plays in full when a hotrod robot opens some magic crystal thing, turns into some kind of semi-trailer hotrod robot, and then goes to absolute town destroying the internals of an entire planet-sized other robot. This is cock rock that could soundtrack the literal destruction of space itself.
Also, why the absolute, ever-loving fuck is the 1986 Transformers movie not on Netflix?
That last sentence has absolutely no bearing over Moving Out. The stuff about the music does, though. Moving Out isn’t a game about moving people’s property. It’s a game about absolutely wrecking homes and farms and offices while wearing the sheep’s-clothing of a being about moving things from one location to another. It’s as much about moving property as porn is about ordering a pizza.
Smashing stuff is always best enjoyed with company, of course. Little wonder that the first thing you see past the initial menu is a character select screen that is cleanly divided by four. It doesn’t even say select character. The noun of choice is coworker.
The game almost seemed sad that I jumped in by myself.
Nonetheless, it powered through with a brave face. You’ll be stronger when playing solo, it informed me. You do need to be able to move those awkwardly-shaped sofas, after all. Here, I’ll even reduce the number of them that you have to deal with. Have some assist modes – I can give you more time, maybe remove the headache of organising the stuff in the truck, if you like? Let’s do our best to have fun together.
And I did manage to have some fun. The tone is spot-on (shout out again to the soundtrack; if I decide to get into aerobics from next week, this game is 100% to blame), and it turns out that wrecking things both on purpose and by complete accident is entertaining. The little details are delightful – I most frequently played as a man with a toaster for a head, and pieces of warmed bread would regularly fly out from the top of his noggin. And moving electronics? The snap of the chords that you’ve not bothered to disconnect from the wall socket finally popping free is super satisfying. Also, you can bitch-slap ghosts in the face and throw pigs around like weighty beach-balls.
The catch is, just as with a real beach-ball, you’re probably not seriously going to consider buying or playing with one if you’ve no friends to go out and play with.
I did actually get my girlfriend to jump in with me for an afternoon. Or was it morning? I’m not sure, and it frankly doesn’t matter – and, as if just to rub it in my nose, the rubber covering the left analogue stick on my spare DualShock decided that this would be the perfect time to split open and begin peeling off.
Fuckin’ perfect. We instead spent the following hour swapping the controller in The Tetris Effect, a game you would expect to have local multiplayer but, in a move of clairvoyant and totally made-up consideration for our situation, actually doesn’t.
So, yeah – I don’t really know what could have been. I certainly know that my experience with Moving Out could have been better, but not exactly by how much. Imagine Overcooked with a physics engine causing even more chaos and maybe you’re partway there. If you’re presently locked-down in a sharehouse with a fridge full of beer and a freezer stocked with frozen pizza, you may be in for the coolest quarantine experience of all time. Maybe.
All I know is that I still had some fun with the couple of hours or more that I spent with Moving Out. But as circumstances would have it, it’s a passable level of fun. Perhaps a C, if this actually gets published as a review. Which it shouldn’t, professionally speaking, because, ironically enough, I was only able to play it in a professional-like setting. Thing is, in any other year – literally any other year since Pong was first dreamed up – this would surely score a B, maybe even an A if reviewed in what might technically be the least professional way imaginable, cheap cocktail and sticky table very much included. Buggered if I know – friends won’t be visiting and good beer won’t be flowing into our cups until well after this piece is due, has been published, and very likely faded from all of your memories. And with no online play, I can’t even approximate. I can’t begin to fathom how the developers must feel about what the state of the world has done to their vision.
It’s worthy of a pity purchase for the simple fact that it shouldn’t have to be a pity purchase.
Seriously. Fuck this pandemic.