IT TAKES TWO [Review]: Game of the.. Year?

Dee Assassina
@assassinasan

The combination of Josef Fares’ unfiltered charm and Hazelight Studios success with A Way Out was enough to sell me on It Takes Two. I knew we were going to get a solid cooperative experience, but what I didn’t realize is that It Takes Two would become one of the best cooperative experiences of all time…

You and a person of your choice take control of a married couple named May and Cody whose persistent bickering put them on the verge of divorce. As they break this news to their young daughter Rose, the magical powers of her tears puts May and Cody into the bodies of tiny clay and wooden dolls. May and Cody are tasked by Rose’s Book of Love named Dr. Hakim to repair their relationship so they can go back to normal. Meanwhile, May and Cody want to work together so they can get back to normal and continue with their divorce.

You’ll have to play to see if this journey succeeded in repairing their relationship but throughout the entire game you’ll have a blast collaborating with your partner to get through each level. If you purchase the game, you get a free key for your partner. The downfall? Your co-op buddy can’t earn trophies or achievements if they didn’t purchase the game. I hope in future Hazelight Studios co-op games, they allow the partner with the key to earn trophies and achievements without purchasing the game.

All of the characters in the game are likeable including May, Cody, Rose and especially The Book of Love, Dr. Hakim. The dialogue and mannerisms of the characters definitely make me laugh often, so It Takes Two definitely succeeds as a romantic comedy. What’s also cool is Cody and May’s relationship is progressive in that they don’t fit gender stereotypes, which you learn more about as the game progresses. Their dialogue and banter felt genuine each step of the way. The only character that felt like it fit into a stereotype was Dr. Hakim, but his comedic interjections and vigorous hip thrusts only made him more memorable. He’s the best.

Your characters in doll form are so tiny compared to the bigger real world, that It Takes Two is kind of like playing Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Toy Story, or Small Soldiers if those movies were games. Each level is whimsical and a blast to explore. You start by trying to get out of your shed, through a tree house, and into Rose’s room. You’ll explore a steampunk high fantasy world, a snow globe, a colorful garden, and an attic full of musical instruments. Supplementing these magical levels is a music score that fit well with each biome.

Joseph Faras’ The Flintstones…

There’s so much detail in every corner of each level and Hazelight Studios didn’t spare a single texture in any item. Although the game is fairly linear, you’ll be given moments to explore an open space filled with intractable objects, side activities, mini games for friendly competition, and some amazing Easter eggs. Exploring these levels are such a blast that sometimes we forgot why May and Cody were going through this in the first place. It Takes Two fostered so many smiles and laughs.

This game is on the shorter side and can be completed in about 11 to 15 hours. It’s significantly longer than A Way Out. There wasn’t a single minute where the gameplay became stale because each biome gave May and Cody a distinct set of tools or powers to get through. For example, in The Shed level May is given a hammer and Cody is given a nail or in the Cuckoo Clock level May is given the power to create a clone while Cody can manipulate time. You’ll use these tools to work together and get through the level.

You’ll even use these tools to fight together against some really clever boss’s like giant vacuums, infected flowers, queen bees, and more. Each level created gameplay segments that ranged from a third person shooter, to a fighting game, to a temple run type game, even segments that felt like Diablo. The gameplay manages to keep the puzzle solving, combat, and traversal fresh and fun. It Takes Two is a breath of fresh air in an industry that loves to create redundant gameplay that requires a grind.

This game is a must-play for everyone. It’s not difficult so you can bring in a kid or someone who has novice levels of experience with video games. There are only a few segments that were a bit challenging. You don’t have to play with your life partner, but it may even be therapeutic. Hey, it may even be a good date night icebreaker. I imagine playing online may still be fun, but playing in person seems ideal. Either way, I’m 100% on-board with Hazelight Studios next cooperative game because it’s definitely their strength. They may be the best in the industry at creating these fun cooperative experiences. I know it’s early in the year, but, thus far, It Takes Two is my favorite game of 2021. 4.75-5/5 Bibles.

-Dee Assassina

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