In these crazy times, sometimes it's the dumbest things that give us the most joy. Moving Out understands this, which is why it has a button to slap people.
Due out on April 28, Moving Out is kind of the natural successor to a game like Overcooked, albeit without the frustrating difficulty. Made by Australian developers SMG Studio, the game gives up to four players a bunch of stuff in a house, with a simple end goal: get everything into the truck.
Ash Ringrose, director of SMG Studio, said the basic premise of Moving Out was borne from a developer's personal experience. Amidst moving their own stuff, they'd started to get really particular, measuring the length of the couch, trying to work out if they could move something out of a doorway, and so on.
It's not too different from the personal experience that brought Unpacking to life. But instead of the more chilled, serene experience of having all your books lined up the right way, Moving Out embraces the chaos of throwing furniture across a pool.
Set in a '80s themed world, Moving Out gives you a bunch of furniture, fridges, beds, and other items, and asks you to load them into a truck. You can throw items into the truck, or you can carry them in. It's up to you.
The game features few penalties, and in a lot of ways is designed to avoid the annoyances that people have with Overcooked. In a small embargoed preview session, Ringrose explained that SMG started out by making "more of a moving simulator", but they realised quickly that the chaos of slapping your friends and throwing furniture out the window was more fun. Team17 thought so as well: the publisher's feedback was that they didn't want the game to have Overcooked's level of difficulty, particularly towards the later levels.
There was a distinct push from SMG to avoid that in the level design, too. One of Overcooked's problems is that the levels force players to stay in particular zones of the map for efficiency. It's not possible to pass some levels without that level of discipline and efficiency.
Moving Out's levels are more freeform. One level in the preview was an L-shaped house with a pool in the middle. The basic idea is that players have to throw couches and the like across the pool, with players on the other side ferrying items into the truck. But instead of spawning on one side of the map and being stuck there until the end of the level, Moving Out's design will let players switch it up if they want.
"We just [want to] let people have fun; we're not building a super serious game here," Ringrose said.
You don't have to gold star every level to play through the game, although more bonuses and customisations will be unlocked
Similarly, the game has a suite of customisations for the difficulty. Some of these are basic, like an option that lets you skip a level and move on if you fail. You have items vanish as soon as they appear in the truck, extend time limits for levels and rewards, or have the weight of two-person items like couches and fridges be a little lighter, letting players run around a little more while carrying them. They're not options the developers expect most people to use, but they are a handy accessibility option, and something that might be good for families playing the game with kids.
Many of the levels are self-contained, built around a single idea or gags or jokes. One level riffed on the Sideshow Bob gag where there's nothing but rakes. Another level features a haunted house that has a ghost; let the ghost capture you (by failing to slap it) and you'll be forced to respawn. The chairs and couches will move of their own volition too, so you'll have to regularly marshal them back into place. Another level, which you can see in a cut of the preview footage above, is based around Frogger.
It's all easy fun to have with friends, which the world could use a little bit more of right now. The game's launching on PC, PS4, Xbox and the Switch on April 28, or April 29 if you're getting it through Steam. There's a demo available on Steam right now, and all the consoles as well, if you want to give it a go before then.