Divorce. A traumatic subject that treads thin-ice when depicted in entertainment. The touchy subject of separation is the catalyst behind this endearing escapade between a troubled couple at breaking point. The narrative concocted was surely a trial-by-fire intent for those that struggle with the impasse of reconciliation. A relatable footnote for those that may have gone through this, or experienced this as a third party. The unpleasantries of dissolution can be awkward, especially for those that may not have been exposed to this at such a young age, but do have friends or family members that did. While playing this extraordinary title, a personal moment was had between my friend and I, discussing our respective upbringings. He a father of a young boy, found the plot somewhat confronting from being placed within a similar situation in his adolescence, just as the young child between the aforementioned couple in the title does.
It Takes Two is best described as an adventure-platformer that cycles through a plethora of gaming categories to fit a myriad of scenarios at hand. From the creator of A Way Out, Josef Fares and his team at Hazelight Studios have ensured a delightful adventure, that aims to endear fans for hours with its contrast of drama and comedy. A bleak outlook may break hearts, but a mythical adventure that the bickering couple have to endure could bring them back together. An expedition packed to the brim with comical sequences that break the imposing gloom that befalls on our selfish couple’s precious little girl. A glorious demonstration of unity that works, not only in plot, setting and scenery, but formulating patterns, devising plans, and overcoming hurdles in tandem with your cohort, as you progress through this profound journey.
To make a thing go right...
Upon beginning our journey, we’re given a peek into the lives of May and Cody, a couple with their marriage on the brink of collapse. Their Daughter, Rose, is caught in-between the bickering pair as she looks on to see her parents continuously argue over rudimentary tasks. As the child listens on, she can’t help but to overhear the two discuss their impending separation. Both May and Cody try to explain to their daughter that they would be going their separate ways. Seemingly unfazed, she agrees and requests to go back to her room to play. The parents almost shocked their child took the news well, let Rose go back to her activities. Unbeknownst to them, she flees the house through the bedroom window, and hides in her father’s tool shed. The youngster crawls beneath a dusty work bench, where covered in sawdust and shavings is “The Book of Love” by Dr. Hakim.
She begs “Dr. Hakim” for help in keeping her parents together. Opening the novel to a chapter that reads “Love is Work”, she pleas with the two dolls she had hand crafted to represent her parents; one carved from wood which explains the shavings scattered across the floor, and the other a moulding from a lump of clay. As Rose begs to the inanimate objects, she breaks down with tears falling on her home made toys. Sometime later, the dolls come to life with the conscience of both May and Cody inhabiting them. May immediately blames Cody for the situation, initiating another argument between the pair which is suddenly diffused by “The Book of Love” Dr. Hakim, which has also come to life informing the duo that he was purchased by their daughter at a book sale with the intent of nurturing the couple’s relationship to a compromise.
It Takes Two has astoundingly enveloped a stand-up story for a struggling duo that seeks appeasement and resolve.
Vying for their daughter’s attention, Rose leaves the shack failing to spot her cognisant dolls sprawling across the floor. Hakim impedes the pair from successfully leaving with Rose, trapping them into the book’s imaginary version of “couple’s therapy”. Hakim’s nonchalant personality leads the pair into an encounter with their old vacuum cleaner which May had stashed away after purchasing a new one. Frustrated at being stored away for such a long time, the Vacuum sucks up the pair and blasts them to the other side of the barn. Hakim magically appears before them again, setting them the task of climbing the Vacuum’s hoses in hopes of defeating the angry appliance. May questions Hakim’s motives, with the book simply trying to aid the couple and their marriage with his introductory chapter, “Collaboration”; a fitting description of It Takes Two’s intentional gameplay loop.
This begins the magnificent tale of two sides that intertwine for one of 2021’s most memorable title’s to date. A compulsory co-op that strives to tug at the emotional heart strings of gamers, while bringing to light the sensitive subject of dissolution. Before these events unfold, you are given the opportunity to choose which of the two characters you would like to portray. Both May and Cody are handed a respective repertoire across the multitude of chapters enforced by Dr. Hakim. While the title demonstrates a baseline platformer, its juxtapose to an assortment of other genre’s transition quite seamlessly. The last thing I expected here was to be piloting a makeshift biplane made from Cody’s lost underwear, while May spars with a Squirrel in a mock “Street Fighter” battle. Certainly a sensational display in variety and captivating creativity unfolding simultaneously.
Two sides to every story...
✔️An cavalcade of gaming categories that amalgamate an excellent campaign.
✔️The confronting subject of separation and resolve is handled with great respect.
✔️Aesthetically astounding. Quite possibly the best looking PlayStation 5 game thus far.
❌Dr. Hakim’s character can be quite vexing.
❌If you don’t have a gamer buddy or partner, you can’t play.
A majority of the title is delivered in split screen fashion, with players able to dissect certain puzzles from various angles. Communication is key between cohorts, while playing online or local. There was a great example in astute dexterity between my friend and I, during a puzzle near where we had to act as a conductor to a broken electricity cord. It showed incredible teamwork between the both of us, as we switched roles on multiple occasions throughout our adventure, with puzzles that were easy to decipher and quickly solve. A hysterical moment we had was being awarded a hammer head, and a sheathe full of nails to construct a series of paths, but also to utilise them as artillery against any looming threats that seek to dispose of the couple.
As we used our respective weapons, I had impaled my partner into a wooden board; a laugh out loud moment for the both of us as we scurried in miscommunication. As you progress in It Takes Two’s flourishing campaign, each chapter displays its own aesthetic and unique charm in gameplay and genre. While the basics of leaping across long enclaves with ease and stomping into muddy pits and glassware has its benefits, its unlimited run of lives encourages experimentation within each area. There are numerous Easter eggs for you and your partner to enjoy, including a whack-a-mole mini-game, a shooting gallery, taking quirky pictures from a lost polaroid camera, and zooming through hoops with a wind-up and release toy car.
The campaign exudes a warmth in its its aesthetically pleasing overlay – an unexpected element of presentation that demonstrates an extravagant universe from the perspective of miniature beings. I was enthralled by a dazzling display in textures and shaders that uncovered a truly remarkable depth in design. We were awestruck by the attention multiple environments had been given, more than an adequate appeal is graced, constructing a universe rich in vibrancy and charisma. This all melds together with such glamourous approach for its magical manifestation. The chemistry between our characters heighten the unequivocal lure of the world around them, as the disparity of disagreement is completely disregarded for the beauty and mystique encroaching their exigencies. You may have to give yourself a few moments of respite to truly appreciate its splendour.
It Takes Two is an essential co-op experience. A title that will leave you an emotional wreck, but pleased with its outcome regardless of the narrative. An alluring action-adventure, crammed with incredible elements that dabble in a catalogue of categories. A campaign that whimsically coerces players in anticipation for a happy ending. Every turn disposes an ingenious or innovative twist that can’t be argued as quite a profound offering in each proposal. The proposition of counselling a marriage with an unworldly trip within the confines of their own home, from the perspective of two miniatures is confounding, but It Takes Two has managed it with great consideration and reverence. Again, separation is a touchy subject along with conflict, but It Takes Two has astoundingly enveloped a stand-up story for a struggling duo that seeks appeasement and resolve.
It Takes Two is an action-adventure platformer developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts under the EA Originals label. The game was released for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X and Series S in 2021.