Helping a pal move out of their apartment or house is a dreaded chore that most people hope will never be foisted upon them. It’s hardly a recipe for a good time, and yet the original Moving Out managed to make the whole thing into an hilarious escapade full of slapstick comedy. I’ve spent a lot of time playing it with my nieces and friends because it was a great all-round family game. Moving Out 2 looks to expand on the co-op action by introducing whole new universes and crazy mechanics, and succeeds on just about every level.
For the first couple of levels, though, it felt like I was still playing the first game. The familiar pattern of lobbing items out of windows and yelling at my friend to pivot the damn couch set up shop in my head. Mind you, it’s not like that’s a bad thing: the core mechanics of Moving Out 2 are very much a case of not fixing what ain’t broke, unlike the numerous doors, windows and vases currently littering the apartment we just finished up. The chaotic messiness of two or more players trying to quickly bundle everything into a truck is hilarious, especially when the timer is ticking down and there’s just one more thing to grab. Making it all tick is the fact that the controls have just enough clumsiness to be challenging and funny without making you want to smash the controller into the nearest wall.
With that said, it does feel like characters drop stuff a lot more this time around. It would happen occasionally in the first game, but here it seems like my character would drop items far more – not a change I appreciated because I couldn’t tell if it was intentional or a glitch. It’s like they wipe butter on their fingers before the job starts.
Thankfully the game doesn’t make you wait too long for the new stuff, though. Taking a leaf from the bloated Marvel playbook a bunch of multiversal portals open up, letting the hapless moving crew explore whole new worlds full of people who want their stuff moved out, usually in a hurry and with no regard for property damage. The premise lets the developers introduce a lot of fun new puzzle elements into the mix like massive rotating platforms or gingerbread houses with destructible walls. One level involved floating carts being pulled along by flying goldfish and made us throw gems across a chasm into a moving target.
Moving stuff into places was something that got patched into the first game as a fun way of extending its lifespan, but for the sequel the developers have taken the concept and woven it properly into the game. It makes for some really fun bespoke levels, including one where you end up firing lounge furniture into a house using a giant slingshot. This kind of barmy idea is where Moving Out 2 really shines.
One thing I’m not glad to see back are the farmyard levels. Trying to herd a bunch of irate beasts into pens was a frigging nightmare in the first game and are even more infuriating in Moving Out 2. Seeing a bunch of chickens hop over the wall of their enclosure for the 6th or 7th time in the level is enough to make me seriously consider turning the place into an all-you-can-eat BBQ buffet.
A couple of the new ideas don’t quite hit the spot, either, like having to vacuum up clouds constantly or levels made up entirely of one-way doors. Still, for the most part the new mechanics are a success. It’s actually impressive how the developers find ways to dress up the simple concept of throwing furniture around and keep it fun.
Because of the wealth of new ideas and challenges on offer it seems like the developers have been far more generous with the time limits before. Even beating the Pro times is quite likely on your first run through a level, whereas in the first game the Pro time needed another run or two, usually. On the one hand, it makes Moving Out 2 less intense, but on the other it lets the fun be more relaxed. The first games tight deadlines could lead to genuine annoyance among players, whereas these more chilled restrictions keep the fun from boiling over into an urge to strange people. Well, more of an urge than usual, anyway.
I don’t like the new approach to optional objectives, though. Before, the extra objectives were listed on each level from the start, but now they only appear after you beat the level. You can still complete them entirely by accident, but you can no longer aim to snag them all in just one play through of a level. It feels like this was done as a cheap way to ramp up the replay value. Like before there’s no a whole lot of story, though there is an entertaining yarn involving Gnomes, but there is a whole lot of jokes that feel like they were written by a group of dad’s who have been holding back their dad jokes for years and needed an outlet. For some people this might be an immediate turn-off, but for my brain and its love of punful pun-based humour it was completely endearing.
Unsurprisingly, singleplayer is still the worst way to play the game. There are a bunch of options for all of us Johnny-no-mates out there like making 2p items much easier to move solo, increased time limits and more, but carefully navigating a couch through a bendy corridor isn’t as fun when its just you doing it.
The good news is that couch co-op is back, perfect for a few mates and some beers, and online play as been added into the mix, too, so now you and your friend from halfway around the world can yell at each other in different languages while trying to move a huge pool table out of a tiny room. Up to four people can be inveigled in shifting things into vans which provides plenty of opportunity for mayhem, getting tangled up and attempted to throw fragile boxes across massive gaps for your mate to catch.
Moving Out 2 is a solid sequel to an already excellent game. Not every new addition is a hit but the majority are, adding in plenty of barmy ideas to an already manic game. It’s a hoot with a few pals sitting on the couch and having a laugh as they hurl a microwave through a window and bounce it off a parasol into the truck. Just be careful that the farmyard levels don’t turn your friend group into an angry mob baying for blood.