Moving Out 2 Review - Packed With More Than Ever
Moving sucks. Period. Whether it’s moving out yourself or being coerced to help a mate move, no amount of six-packs or free pizza can convince me otherwise. So, it’s somewhat poignant, considering the current rental crisis and climate, that Australian developer SMG Studio has returned with a follow-up to their fantastic 2020 same-screen multiplayer experience Moving Out. Moving Out 2 not only builds on that great foundation but adds a host of new features that will leave both first-timers and returning players satisfied in this impressive sequel.
It’s almost impossible to talk about this game style without mentioning Overcooked as Moving Out 2 falls into the same genre and it’s an easy premise to describe. A chaotic multiplayer-centric experience requiring teamwork, strategy and potentially marriage or friendship counselling afterwards. For newcomers, Moving Out 2 is a top-down physics-based moving simulator set in the zany and colourful town of Packmore. You play as a fully certified F.A.R.T (Furniture Arrangement Relocation Technician) for Smooth Moves where your job in each level is to move items back to your removalist truck in a timely, and more often than not, destructive manner. Smashing and throwing items through windows without any disregard is always a laugh and almost always necessary to get under the level’s time requirements. I know it seems like such a simple and mundane concept but the levels and situations you are placed in are often hilarious and wildly absurd. Add in the Saturday morning cartoon-style superhero intro and regular one-liners like “If you do happen to die, you won’t be charged for the uniform!” and it’s hard not to smile or enjoy yourself.
The events in Moving Out 2 take place 8 years after Moving Out 1. You have lost your F.A.R.T certificate in the last move and now you must head back to training with the new recruits to get your certification back. Hijinks ensue which result in needing to travel to each of 3 inter-dimensional portals to retrieve 12 special tech support gnomes for reasons that shouldn’t be spoiled. Funnily enough, the idea for a multiverse and interdimensional travel for SMG Studio originated before the multiverse boom of Doctor Strange, Spiderman: No Way Home, Flash or Everything Everywhere All at Once. There is a competent and humorous story that helps link the levels together but for most, it’s not the driving force to play these games. It’s the gameplay and the multiplayer.
All the original characters return, alongside thirty-plus wackier and zany characters than before. My personal favourite was choosing the Toucan and reliving my love for Fruit Loops and I also enjoyed the Converse shoe head to name a couple. A bunch of characters and alternate styles for existing characters can be unlocked in levels or the overworld by finding secret style crates which added some extra incentive to explore. The only downside was not being able to alter your character’s colour like in the original but it’s a small annoyance as the roster is so big and varied that you will barely notice.
The implementation of a multiverse-style storyline and theme has resulted in more level variety and new puzzles that didn’t feature in the first. There are now a number of specific score attack levels that shake up the formula. Levels include sling-shooting giant balls into basketball hoops, navigating gumballs down a pinball-style pachinko machine or a carnival duck-style slingshot game. There are just enough of these levels to keep things fresh and break up the normalcy of the moving levels. Some were a lot of fun, especially in a group working together, and others were downright tedious or frustrating. The other style of level that returns is the moving-in level. Unlike the first game, where moving-in levels were added to 12 existing levels as DLC, the moving-in levels here are dedicated stand-alone levels that feel more purposeful and deliberate. Just like the score attack levels; they didn’t overstay their welcome and had the right number of levels without diluting the core concept.
The other three dimensions include Pactropolis; a future utopia where social media never existed, Middle Folkmore; a world of wizards and fantasy inspired by DND and magic, and Snackmore; a dimension made of candy! All three have unique colour palettes and level designs and mechanics specific to their dimensions. Gameplay can include controlling trains to move items around a level, placing batteries on switches to power doors, rotating cranks to move platforms, using umbrellas or fountains to propel large items quicker or breaking down gingerbread walls by throwing a candy object through it. There are so many obstacles, switches, conveyor belts and gameplay mechanics in each world that things don’t ever feel repetitive, offering more puzzle-solving or level variety than the first Moving Out. The levels are definitely designed with multiplayer in mind, with more emphasis on throwing items and activating switches or holding open sliding doors in complex levels. They still scale well in single-player with fewer items to navigate and the levels making the required concessions for solo completion.
Another highlight, specifically for newer or younger players is the ease of controls and excellent accessibility options that have returned and improved from the first game. Controls are super simple, and easy to grasp, allowing almost all ages and skill levels to get in on the action. R2 to grab items, Cross to Jump, Square to Throw or Slap (or what I like to affectionately call the “Yeet’ button) and pressing Triangle to highlight the items that need to be hauled back to the truck. Even if those combinations aren’t suitable, SMG has added the ability to customise controls, allowing for full remapping and the ability to even play one-handed. A feature that wasn’t available for console gamers in the first Moving Out. A number of assist modes can be toggled for each level and include longer time limits, reduced difficulty of obstacles, lighter two-player objects, items disappear when placed in the truck and skipping levels on fail.
The decision to remove the gold, silver and bronze medal times from the first in favour of getting a star for beating the level and another for completing in a quicker pro time is an understated but welcome change. It’s potentially less off-putting and psychologically less intimidating for less skilled or younger players if the achievements in the level, regardless of bonus or main-time objective, are the one type. I also found that Moving Out 2 was more forgiving when playing solo and the time objectives were quite generous by default. I don’t have children or gamers in my house but it’s always one of the first things I check in these games as many of my coworkers and friends have children that enjoy these styles of games and will no doubt be impressed with the thought and care given to the changes made and assist options available.
Overall, Moving Out 2 is an improvement over its predecessor in every single way. Look, presentation, features and feel. Added level variety, a larger roster of crazy characters, online multiplayer and a number of accessibility options propels Moving Out 2 into the top echelon of same-screen co-op multiplayer games. Moving Out 2 is a must for fans of the first game, people that missed out on the first due to the lack of multiplayer or first-timers that love same-screen multiplayer games.
Moving Out 2 was reviewed on PS5 with a code kindly provided by Team 17.