Hazelight Studios’ award-winning game “It Takes Two” is an exciting look at love and relationships through new and engaging cooperative play mechanics. The game was released in 2021 and won several awards and nominations at the 2021 Game Awards, including game of the year.
“It Takes Two,” tells the story of a couple — May and Cody — going through a rough divorce. Shortly after they tell their young daughter of their separation, they are transformed into two of their daughter’s toys. From here, the two are forced into a series of trials meant to bring them back together by a talking “Book of Love” that the daughter had been reading.
The game’s story feels bittersweet, with the main characters seeming to care for each other and genuinely love their daughter. However, the game promotes the idea that May and Cody need to get back together for their daughter’s happiness. This feels like a toxic way to represent an adult relationship and may not be what’s best for anyone. The couple in this game, time after time justify their actions by saying they are what’s “best for their daughter” even when said action may cause the daughter clear emotional distress.
However, the gameplay is fluid and fun, requiring the players to work together to solve puzzles with ever changing mechanics. One level has the player shoot nails that the other player must swing on, leaving you to trust that your teammate will construct those platforms for you.
These mechanics also rotate, giving each player a new ability every few levels. This keeps the gameplay engaging, as it does not get stale or cause either character to feel useless. Some mechanics are more memorable than others. The ability to walk on walls and shoot fire is a little more exciting than hammering nails and shooting honey.
These mechanics are typically rotated after a boss battle. The boss character in questions is created as a result of one of the couple’s arguments. Using the items gained in the level, you must work through the issue by fighting the boss in order to grow closer.
This game is perfect for couples as it really gets players to use teamwork or, in my case, a great game to play with your roommate who knows you have a review to write. Throughout our playthrough, I found a growing sense of communication. Puzzles required us time and time again to come up with clever solutions and sync our timing. The game also features both local and online co-op meaning this game could be well-suited for couples that are living long distances from one another.
The biggest problem that we had with the gameplay is that often, it would be interrupted with multiple cut scenes that felt irrelevant. I’m all for storytelling, but sometimes you just need to let the world you built do some of the leg work for you. It feels like a mystery movie where the characters explain each of their actions and ideas as they go, like someone is holding your hand through the story.
All and all, “It Takes Two” is a great cooperative game, maybe even one of the best. Yet, it often shoots itself in the foot with its story and how it chooses to present