It Takes Two
Gameplay 10
Graphics 9
Sound 9

It Takes Two is a 3D platformer that has been built from the ground up to be a cooperative experience. It tells the heartfelt story of two people who are on the brink of divorce when they are thrown together for the adventure of a lifetime. The fantastic levels, innovative gameplay, and constant surprises make It Takes Two one of the most memorable titles in the genre and, without a doubt, one of the best co-op games of all time.

Gameplay: Along with traditional platforming and puzzle solving, each section of It Takes Two introduces new gameplay elements.

Graphics: The character designs are top-notch, and the levels are some of the most imaginative in the genre.

Sound: The stellar voice acting and great sound design make It Takes Two feel like a blockbuster movie instead of a game at times

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It Takes Two

Developer: Hazelight | Publisher: Electronic Arts | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Action / Adventure / Platformer | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

When Cody and May’s marriage deteriorates to the point of impeding divorce, their preteen daughter, Rose, is hit the hardest. Desperate for her parents to reconcile, a crying Rose makes a wish while clutching the doll-sized versions she made of them. Mysteriously, thanks to the magical power of wishes, Cody and May’s consciousness are transported into the dolls while their real bodies remain behind in a state of unresponsive stupor. If they want any hope of escaping this predicament, Cody and May must put their differences aside and work together while traversing the fantastical versions of their everyday surroundings.

The theme of It Takes Two is collaboration, which extends to the fact that it is impossible to play the game alone. Instead, players must team up with a partner and do everything in local or online co-op. Thankfully the developer, Hazelight, has made it possible for owners of the game to provide a partner with a free “Friend’s Pass” to join in on the fun instead of having to purchase their own copy. However, even when played online, the game remains a resolutely split-screen affair to ensure players can keep an eye on each other at all times.

Initially, Cody and May are baffled by their predicament but are soon greeted by the arrival of a magical self-help book named Dr. Hakim. Much to their annoyance, the book explains that not only do they need to collaborate to survive, but also to fix their relationship. Unfortunately, since both appear to have resigned themselves to the inevitable divorce, they are very resistant to this idea. Nonetheless, as the adventure continues and the two learn to trust each other again, players see glimpses of the couple they used to be. While It Takes Two is a family-friendly adventure that players of all ages can enjoy, the story will resonate most with couples who have been through some of the trials and tribulations of life together.

From a gameplay perspective, It Takes Two is a 3D platformer that isn’t afraid to shake things up around every corner. Instead of exploring and finding collectibles like most traditional 3D platformers, It Takes Two feels more like a theme park attraction that rushes players through incredible set pieces. This isn’t to say that the game is on rails, but that there’s never any doubt about what to do next or where to go. Instead, the challenge comes from working together with your partner to ensure both of you can overcome the obstacles. In many games, the co-op elements feel tacked on, and one player can pretty much ride their partner’s coattails. This is very much not the case in It Takes Two. Instead, the game is fond of handing each player their own very unique gadget to use. These gadgets are also all geared toward helping your partner, and neither player will get very far unless they communicate and collaborate. Of course, this means that a healthy dose of patience might be needed at times, especially when playing with an inexperienced partner. The upshot is that each player feels like they are contributing to the success, and nobody is just along for the ride.

Platforming and puzzle-solving form the heart of It Takes Two, but the game is fearless in mixing and matching a multitude of genres. The amount of effort that has gone into the game is quite unbelievable at times. The developers went as far as creating entirely new gameplay mechanics for once-off scenarios. Of course, half the fun is discovering what new and exciting elements will appear next… you never know whether you will be flying around on fidget spinners, riding spiders, or hopping around on frogs. Even genres as far-flung as rhythm action, beat ’em ups, and stealth makes an appearance at some point. If all of this wasn’t enough, the game is also littered with mini-games, should players ever feel like taking a break from all the action. Once again, these are fun, and imaginative takes on other popular mini-games.

It Takes Two runs on Unreal Engine 4, and the developers have used it well to provide beautiful environments. The character designs for Cody and May are excellent, with Cody looking like a clay figure and May sporting a marionette-like look. The levels themselves however steal the show, even the most mundane areas are turned into incredible setpieces. Think Honey, I Shrunk The Kids meet Alice in Wonderland, Players must do everything from helping squirrels at war with wasps to organizing a music concert for glowsticks. On paper, levels set inside a clock, snow globe, tree, garden, or garage might not sound very exciting, but while playing the game, it is an entirely different matter. By tossing realism out the window, the game provides players with jaw-dropping set pieces and some of the most memorable levels in the genre. These are punctuated by impressive boss fights where once again, only teamwork can save the day.

The high production values of It Takes Two extend to the audio as well. Once again, there’s very little that can be faulted. The constant banter between Cody and May starts out as bickering and blame-shifting before changing in tone as the two rediscover their admiration for each other. This could have been cringe-worthy, but thankfully Joseph Balderrama and Annabelle Dowler, who lend their voices to Cody and May, respectively, did a masterful job. It’s a testament to Balderrama’s talents that we only discovered he also voiced Dr. Hakim while watching the end credits, as the two characters couldn’t be more different. The rest of the supporting cast, which includes vacuums, toolboxes, squirrels, beetles, wasps, and an assortment of toys, also did a great job. Likewise, the music and sound effects remain of a high quality throughout the adventure.

Considering how many different genres and gameplay mechanics It Takes Two covers, the controls could easily have been a disaster. Thankfully, the controls remain responsive whether playing with a keyboard and mouse or controller. Cody and May can double jump, dash, swing on grapple points, and grind on rails, while the unique gadgets they are handed all have different functions. As mentioned earlier, we won’t ruin any of the surprises, but these gadgets are as helpful as they are imaginative and make for some rather interesting puzzles to solve. The game is very forgiving, though, and should players ever die, they usually respawn on the nearest bit of solid ground, provided their partner is still alive. If both players die, which generally only happens during a boss fight, it’s back to the nearest checkpoint. Overall, though, the game is challenging enough that players can feel like they earned each victory while still being accessible enough for newcomers to enjoy. It is also quite gratifying to see how proficient new players can become over the course of the game and overcome challenges they might have balked at earlier.

As far as co-op games go, It Takes Two is really unmatched, and it will take something extraordinary to beat what Hazelight has delivered. The game offers a great blend of humor and seriousness while continuing to surprise and delight at every turn. None of the sections ever feel like they overstay their welcome, and as soon as players squeeze all the fun out of certain gadgets, something new is introduced that shakes everything up again. It’s not often that we play something where every chapter feels like a different game, but in It Takes Two, it is a common occurrence. While this could easily have ended up being a mess, Hazelight has somehow pulled off the impossible and created a game that can measure up to some of the best in the genre. To miss out on this experience because it is co-op only would be a crime, so grab a partner and experience the magic of collaboration!

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i3-2100T or AMD FX 6100
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 660 or AMD R7 260x
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 50 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 8.1 64-bit or Windows 10 64-bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 3570K or AMD Ryzen 3 1300x
  • Memory: 16 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 or AMD R9 290X
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 50 GB available space

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