It Takes Two launched for PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X en S, Xbox One and PC last week (with native next gen versions), and it’s been the best possible way to spend the weekend together during a lockdown. Here’s why.
EA gets a lot of flak for releasing the next FIFA, Need for Speed or Madden game every year, but they’ve also published some of the most wonderful smaller and creative titles. These have included the likes of Fe, Sea of Solitude, Unravel and A Way Out, just to name a few. That last one was a great co-op experience from Hazelight Studios, the developer that’s also behind It Takes Two. It’s also the reason why we were looking forward to It Takes Two so much, because Hazelight has shown us that co-op can be more than partygames or a standard multiplayer option – it can be a shared narrative experience.
It Takes Two is drenched in creativity and charm, to the point where each level feels like its own unique episode that was built from scratch – introducing new mechanics, references and characters. And yes, references. Quite often, It Takes Two feels like an homage full of lighthearted nods to pop culture icons and moments – many of which are either videogame or Disney-related. The latter isn’t too surprising considering the audiovisual style either – where A Way Out was somewhat realistic, It Takes Two feels like it was inspired by Disney’s Pixar. Not just visually, also in terms of storytelling – but I’ll leave that to you to discover beyond the fact that there’s a married couple that’s struggling and they get digitized by their kids.
As you traverse the game world – which was inspired by the real life world of now-digitized protagonists Cody and May – the gameplay constantly shifts between mechanics and styles, although platforming (in its many incarnations) features prominently. With its audiovisual style (aided by a “Book of Love” that acts as a narrator) and frequent changes in gameplay, It Takes Two constantly instills a sense of wonder and provides an experience that’s so engaging that you barely even notice you’re playing a 12+ hour campaign.
It’s a great hallmark of quality gameplay design when time flies by, and it’s even better when you’re mixing different gameplay styles and the game doesn’t feel like it’s dragging in any of them. The controls – even though their function changes per game segment – always feel on point, and the pacing of the game is excellent. There’s seemingly always a surprise around the next corner, or a new and creative way to use or implement a mechanic you were already familiar with.
The visual storytelling is also of an extremely high level, with gorgeous level designs and backdrops. You can tell it’s a last gen game even on the PS5 though, since some of the animations for larger characters feel a bit more crude than what you’d expect from “next gen”, but that’s really just nitpicking. It Takes Two is imagination come to life, and a joy to watch as well as play.
Although this is a linear and story-driven adventure, there’s replay value in It Takes Two as well. You can explore a bit to make sure you see everything there is to see, but even more interesting is the option to play as “the other character” in a second playthrough. The game plays out from a split screen perspective, so playing again can literally give you another view on the story. Simply put, if you like co-op multiplayer games, this is a must-play and we can’t wait to see where Hazelight goes from here.