‘Move or Die’ and the Sacredness of the Couch

When two or more are gathered in the same room to play ‘Move or Die’—hilarity ensues, but the charm is missing online.

Written by M. Joshua Cauller / Published on February 16, 2016

The rules change every ten seconds. Wear the hat. Grab the candy. Finish the race first. Shoot the other guys while doing a backflip. There’s only on constant: move or die. That is, stop moving and your life bar saps dry. Pop goes the weasel.

Something’s wrong a minute into my first online match of ‘Move or Die.‘ We’re about six micro-rounds deep into the variety-piñata-action and I’m miserable. I figure that it’s not ‘Move or Die,’ it’s me. Rather, I don’t hear Garrett make Duke Nukem dying sounds as he loses. I don’t see Greg yell, “YEAH!,” as he throws his right fist into the air. And I don’t feel the shock of Vince’s last-second triumph.

"And when two or more are no longer gathered, in the same room, maybe even on the same couch, something is absent from their midst."
I’m missing the energy of my friends in the room with me, and this party game just feels wrong without them. I text my friends as soon as the online match is over, “Anybody free to hang out tonight?” Garrett, Greg, Yoshi, and Vince show up a few hours later. It’s on.

We’re excited to play together, but confused as to why we only have three options to customize our characters. We can unlock more, but we can’t do that by playing together. I have to play the game alone (in one of the other modes) to open-up the fun of playing with others. This baffles me.


Josh had to pay A TON of online matches to unlock Grumpy Cat.

Skin unlocks aren’t the most important thing in the world, but part of the fun of a party is putting on funny costumes and acting silly. It makes no sense to me why the game would lock those costumes in a closet that you can only unlock by telling your friends to leave. I know I dislike playing the game online with strangers, so I try the Daily Challenge (I like Daily Challenges in roguelikes, so this excites me). I come in second place in the first round. I’m immediately kicked out and told to come back tomorrow. This would be fine if this was a super harsh roguelike, but this game normally rewards second place with consolation points. Plus, sheesh: the multiplayer mode typically has like six rounds a minute so there’s always a chance to catch up. Yet instead of a gracious experience that honors the party spirit, I feel like this instant failure is a big slap in the face.

The game gives me few consolation experience points for running the Daily Challenge, but not nearly enough for a new costume. This leaves me with only two option for unlocking new skins: play the online mode, which I hate, or wait 24 hours and try the Daily Challenge mode again, which I now hate even more.

There’s one thing that Move or Die does well, and that’s serve as a party game. When we have new people pick up the controller for the first time, they get an equal-opportunity to figure out what’s going on and come out on top. Move or Die provides enough random rules-per-round-swap that it keeps everybody on their toes. Our crew really dug it, despite the limited costumes.

The game showcases for me what works with a game and a new group of friends: chaos, friendly reactions, and the even playing field. Unfortunately, the magic disappears when those friends leave the room. And when two or more are no longer gathered, in the same room, maybe even on the same couch, something is absent from their midst.

About the Author:

M. Joshua Cauller makes unique player-centered indie game trailers when he's not exploring games' redemptive qualities. He can sometimes be found away from his computer (if you're patient). You can follow him on Twitter @mjoshua or check out his trailer production work at http://mjoshua.com

  • Joshua David Ortiz

    “And when two or more are no longer gathered, in the same room, maybe even on the same couch, something is absent from their midst.” I see what you did there. Nice, bro! We were made for community by a God who has eternally been in community.