Amid thrilling roller coaster rides and silly 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 decaying love and the differences that separate us. It’s about not wanting to face reality and not wanting to let go. It’s also about hope and uncertainty, about the past creating a better future and finding common ground, no matter how much it hurts. All of these elements are beautifully woven into a colorful and soulful adventure that hits hard in both its moving narrative and clever gameplay. It takes two manages to be a game that gets two people working together to create a relationship that works, but how long?
In an emotional opening shot, we see a little girl named Rose running to her playground after her parents, Cody and May, tell her they are breaking up. Devastated, she keeps saying that she just wants them to be “friends”. As difficult as it is for Rose to take the news, we learn that she expected it. Not only did she get two of her parents’ action figures to imagine something with – to show them how they should be – she also secretly bought a “Book of Love” to learn how to take care of each other again.
Rose’s tears fall from her cheeks onto the characters and the book, conjuring magical powers that sweep through the house. The next time we see Cody and May, their souls have been passed on to their miniature, wood, and clay counterparts. Since these two adults are right to panic in their new bodies, the Book of Love greets them as an upbeat, comical character named Dr. Hakim who promises to help them mend the bond they once shared. The entire adventure is told from this tiny perspective and delivers a beautifully written story that unfolds amid treacherous action sequences. The mix of narration and gameplay works incredibly well, and gives you a lot of insight into the minds of Cody and May as they jump around looking for a way to get back to their normal lives (and size).
Dr. Hakim doesn’t want them to move that fast, however, and says they should stay small to find out their differences. This somewhat shameful desire on his part brilliantly turns into the basis of the adventure. As the name of the game suggests, It Takes Two can only be played by two people sitting on the couch either together or online. While each player is challenged to complete individual platform challenges, great progress can only be made when the duo work together. Almost any significant move requires teamwork, communication, and patience between the two players. Even when you play online, the screen is always split in two so you can see exactly what your partner is doing. This is an excellent touch that allows the other player to solve problems with verbal guidance.
Cody and May share the same basic moves but are given different tools that can be used in each world. This makes them feel different and creates the premise for a person to always be the owner of a certain type of action. For example, Cody has an explosive gel, but it can only be detonated with May’s rifle. Later in the game, Cody can resize, while May is outfitted with magnetic boots – a strange pairing that both characters can use to interact in different ways around the world to open up new routes.
Combining the actions of both players is used in almost every sequence, which is usually beautifully designed, delivering lots of laughter, moments on the edge of the seat, and a unique flow that requires teamwork. Some sequences force both characters to perform the same type of action, but each with slightly different thoughts and movements, e.g. B. having to turn the water wheels of a boat in different directions in order not to run into mines. This is the type of activity that makes you scream back and forth when you trip over what you want the other player to do in connection with your movement.
While It Takes Two is t alked about for its collaborative design and theme, developer Hazelight’s biggest triumph is the variety in action. When a particular gameplay idea is fully explored, the action turns into something new that is used in a fun way for a ride before another idea expires and is presented. It’s amazing how many different concepts are explored that seem almost like the greatest hits of anything you can do in action games. Some of these ideas work better than others, but most of Hazelight’s attempts are incredibly well executed; For example, riding on the back of a magical catfish, rushing down an icy slope with a bob or taking off into the air with a fidgety spinner.
The core game of running and jumping is the same in every world, but the elements of problem-solving are always mixed up. Hazelight even offers a breather from time to time through amusing mini-games that allow you to compete against your partner, help him or, in some cases, relieve your stress (e.g. when you hit him on the head in a slap in the mouth) .
Constant verbal communication is an absolute must for almost any small sequence, which again gives this game a unique attitude. For many challenges, you will say sentences like, “Throw the switch … now!” Some of the co-op performances can be brutally difficult in both timing and movement, resulting in both players dying a lot, but the control points are generously spaced. If you miss a jump, usually start right here (or just a few steps back). With progress updated so often, you can save the game from its slightly stiff and imprecise platform mechanics. If both players die, they’ll die. You’ll have to restart a boss fight or backtrack to repeat a bit of the level, but a well-crafted, fast-paced, self-resuscitating mechanic limits those moments.
The platform is nifty and requires double jumps and air strokes, plus rope swings and more. Neither of these actions are completely reliable or as fluid as you’d like them to be, but they’re good enough to get the job done. Hazelight is quite aware of the number of timing missteps that can be made and helps the player by automatically dragging characters onto a ledge instead of missing them when they’re around. Seeing Cody or May magically move through space is strange, but better than having to try a difficult action again. The helpful warping happens everywhere in the game, whether you’re three feet below a rail slide and suddenly find yourself on it, or about to miss a jump on a 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 images. All of his individual actions are things we’ve done in other games, but when applied to this distinctly collaborative approach they take on a whole new life and are wonderfully used in a long adventure. The action makes you laugh and scream at your TV and the story stays strong throughout. She forms the backbone for a fun adventure that roars with excitement and you should hold the controller to see if this couple’s lost love can be rekindled.