Among thrilling roller coaster rides and crazy conversations with squirrels, It Takes Two has a heavy heart. It’s about divorce and the toll on a daughter who doesn’t want to lose her family. It’s about rotting love and the differences that divide us. It’s about not wanting to face reality and not wanting to let go. It’s also about hope and uncertainty, the past creating a better future and finding common ground no matter how much it hurts. All these elements are beautifully woven into a colorful and soulful adventure that hits hard in both the moving story and the clever gameplay. It Takes Two manages to be a game that prompts two individuals to work together to create a relationship that works, but for how long?
In an emotional opening shot, we see a little girl named Rose running to her play area after her parents, Cody and May, tell her that they are breaking up. She is devastated and keeps saying she just wants them to be “friends”. As hard as it is for Rose to accept the news, we learn she expected it. Not only did she make two action figures of her parents to play pretend with—to show them how she wants them to be—she also secretly bought a “Book of Love” to learn how they start caring about each other again.
Rose’s tears fall from her cheeks onto the figures and the book, summoning magical powers that rampage through the house. When we next see Cody and May, their souls have been passed on to their miniature, wooden, and clay counterparts. As these two adults rightly panic in their new bodies, the Book of Love greets them as a happy, comical figure named Dr. Hakim, who promises to help them mend the bond they once shared. The whole adventure is told from this small perspective, delivering a beautifully written story that unfolds amid treacherous action sequences. The blending of narration and gameplay works incredibly well, giving you a lot of insight into Cody and May’s minds as they hop around and race to find a way back to their normal lives (and mates).
dr. However, Hakim doesn’t want them to go so fast and feels they should stay small to resolve their differences. This somewhat nefarious wish of his is brilliantly turned into the basis of the adventure. As the name of the game implies, It Takes Two can only be played cooperatively by two people, together on a couch or online. While each player is asked to complete individual platform challenges, not much progress can be made unless the duo work together. Almost every major move requires teamwork, communication and patience between the two players. Even when playing online, the screen is always split in half so you can see exactly what your partner is doing, an excellent touch that allows the other player to solve problems with verbal guidance.
Cody and May share the same basic moves, but get different tools to use in each world. This makes them feel distinct and ensures that one person always owns a specific type of action. For example, Cody has explosive gel, but it can only be detonated with May’s gun. Later in the game, Cody can change size, while May is equipped with magnetic boots – a strange combination used to allow both characters to interact in different ways in the world to open up new routes.
Combining the actions of both players is used in almost every series, which is usually beautifully designed, bringing lots of laughs, moments on the edge of your seat and a unique flow that requires teamwork. A few sequences force both characters to perform the same type of action, but with slightly different mindsets and movements for each, such as having to turn a boat’s waterwheels in different directions to avoid landing in mines. This is the kind of activity where you yell back and forth while tripping over what you want the other player to do in conjunction with your move.
While It Takes Two will be discussed for its collaborative-only design and subject matter, developer Hazelight’s greatest triumph is the variety in action. When a particular gameplay idea is fully explored, the action turns into something new, which is tried out in a fun way before it ends and another idea is presented. It’s amazing how many different concepts are explored, almost like a big hit of all you can do in action games. Some of these ideas work better than others, but most of Hazelight’s attempts have been incredibly well executed, such as riding on the back of a magical catfish, roaring down an icy slope in a bobsled, or using a fidget spinner to launch into the air.
The core gameplay of run and jump is consistent in every world, but the problem-solving elements are always jumbled up. Hazelight even offers the occasional breather from the action through fun mini-games that let you compete against your partner, lend a helping hand, or in some cases take your stress away (like hitting them on the head in a game of whack -a-mol).
Constant verbal communication is an absolute must for almost any small series, which again gives this game a bit of a unique attitude. Many of the challenges will have you saying phrases like “throw the switch…now!” Some of the co-op feats can be brutally difficult, both in timing and movement, causing both players to die a lot, but checkpoints are spread out liberally. If you miss a jump, you usually start over from that spot (or just a few steps away from the game). Updating progress every so often helps save the game from the somewhat stiff and imprecise platform mechanics. If both players die, they’ll have to restart a boss fight or go back to redo a bit of the level, but a nicely designed quick self-revive mechanism limits those moments.
The platforming has been refined and requires double jumps and air jumps, along with rope swings and more. None of these actions are completely reliable or as smooth as you want them to be, but they’re good enough to get the job done. Hazelight is well aware of how often timing mistakes can be made and helps the player by letting characters automatically pull to a ledge rather than miss if they are close. It’s strange to see Cody or May magically move through space, but it’s better than having to retry a difficult move. The helpful warping happens all over the game, whether you’re a good five feet below a rail slide and suddenly find yourself on it or about to miss a jump to a tree branch.
It Takes Two may not be the platform juggernaut it wants to be, but it more than makes up for it with its big heart, wealth of variety and beautiful visuals. All of his individual actions are things we’ve done in other games, but when applied to this distinctly cooperative approach, they take on a whole new life and are used in wonderful ways over a long adventure. The action will have you laughing and screaming at your TV, and the story stays strong the entire time, forming the backbone for an entertaining adventure that’s buzzing with excitement and you’ll have to hold the controller to see if this couple’s lost love can be found. can be rekindled.