Since the past few console generations, online multiplayer has been king. Very little “couch co-op” games exist and when they do, they don’t fare well amongst Call of Duty, Fortnite, and Destiny type video games. The developers at Hazelight Studios specialize in strictly making co-op games and have this idea of bringing the word “couch” back into the fold with a twist. Games such as Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and A Way Out encourage you to play with a friend side by side in split-screen co-op action. Their latest game It Takes Two has a similar ideology that makes co-op games just as fun as they use to be. If or when there is no one by your side to play this fun co-op, you can still play online with anyone on your friends list even if they don’t have a copy of the game.
Playing as either May or Cody, It Takes Two revolves around a married couple on the brink of divorce who continue to argue and blame each other for their mistakes. This affects their daughter Rose which inadvertently cursed them both into living dolls by a magic book titled Dr. Hakim…. a Spanish book of love at that (the language of love). Each player can play as any one of these two characters when they start up the game and have their own pros and cons throughout their journey of love, cooperation and understanding perspectives, all to break the curse.
The story is enjoyably ridiculous and magical with a great sense of humor and charm. The story beats and cutscenes go by quick so you can jump right back in the gameplay, meaning that it never overstays its welcome and ends up annoying at each scene. Omitting the voice acting as A+ quality would be a disservice and absolutely adds to the charm and love put into this game. Each character’s emotions are properly conveyed thanks to the voice acting and almost seems like the character models were motion captured to consistently maintain top quality.
The biggest emphasis for this game, as mentioned before is cooperation. Playing as May for example allows you to carry a hammer in one portion of the story while Cody carries nails. If you guessed one is hammering those nails while the other sets it up, you are correct. Solving those puzzles with someone next to you is as enjoyable as anyone would have online. The puzzles don’t come off as too frustrating or difficult, but just enough to get players talking and coordinating their plan.
There are some very interesting challenges and boss battles which require the same amount of patience and participation. One aspect of It Takes Two that makes the game more enjoyable and would probably be seen as a negative effect to many other games is the infinite lives given to each player. Jump off a ledge or die by an enemy as many times as you’d like. You respawn quick and jump right back into the fun. There are some moments during boss battles however, where if you both die at the same time the battle will reset.
I found myself reminded of Psychonauts many times during the game. Aesthetically, it’s colorful art style and sense of humor have undoubtedly gained some inspiration from Double Fine’s masterpiece. Everything ran smoothly and the environments were very detailed. As a small wooden or clay doll, everything felt like it had a “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” type vibe with large, towering tools, cleaning supplies, windows, and enemies.
It was weird that the levels were a bit generically stretched in length with long rail-grinding parts and suction tubes taking you throughout a level. One could simply dismiss it as the level magically changed since we are describing talking insects, vacuums, and toolboxes but after players figure out the core concept of each puzzle laid out, it can sometimes become repetitive when you do it enough times each level. Thankfully, each level can be completed within 20 minutes or so before the story progresses with a cutscene.
Adding more to the gameplay, throughout the story you run into some mini-games which then become unlocked and can be played anytime with your friend. Whack-a-mole and Tug-of-war are just two to mention. These mini-games could definitely be made into a party game for anyone coming by. This offers some replayability once the story is complete.
Why stop there though? Try switching to the other character in story mode and try out how they play. Each character really stood out and have their own personality, bad and good traits, values and even their own humor. Story and character development is a focus of the game along with the co-op experience. It beautifully shows how by working on a problem together, any team can solve it.
It Takes Two is a game that is fun for friends, family, couples, and parties. Since it isn’t a fully priced game, the reasonably lower price tag helps and is well worth your time. I would recommend It Takes Two to any and everyone who has someone else that can play along with.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of It Takes Two for the PlayStation 5 provided by Hazelight Studios and Electronic Arts.