The traditional couch co-op genre seems to have fallen out of favor in recent years. However, Josef Fares’ Hazelight Studios has made its name off of games specifically design for co-op. The studio’s latest title, It Takes Two, is yet another adventure game completely centered around co-op. Imagine my pleasant surprise when It Takes Two is not only Hazelight’s best work yet, but the best couch co-op game I’ve played in several years.
It Takes Two follows the story of Cody and May, a married couple on the brink of divorce. After their daughter, Rose, wishes for them to stay together, Cody and May’s consciousness are transferred to clay and wooden doll replicas of themselves. The couple is forced to collaborate and work together by a magical book named Dr. Hakim in order to return to their bodies and be reunited with their daughter.
The story in It Takes Two is a real and relatable tale about the complexity of relationships, wrapped into a fantastical world. Cody and May are excellent protagonists, and do a great job of balancing humor with more serious moments. It’s a peek into a realistic aspect of marriage that I genuinely appreciated.
Make a thing go right
The entirety of It Takes Two is designed to be played by two people. Because of this, Hazelight Studios offers a friend pass, which allows a player to give a friend a license to the game, so that they can play together without purchasing two copies. You can also play the game in a split screen mode, as I did with my younger brother.
The story is broken up into chapters, each offering different environments and obstacles for players to overcome. The developers do a masterful job at taking basic settings, like a basement or a large tree in the backyard, and turning them into fantasy environments. These settings also greatly lend themselves to the variety of puzzles the game throws at you.
I did however find some worlds to just be more exciting than others. The space world for example, wasn’t really as interesting as the other environments featured in the game, as it just felt like a series of puzzles with weaker pacing.
The puzzles in It Takes Two force players to collaborate and work as one in order to succeed. Whether it be one player controlling fans in order to secure the other’s safe passage, or one player flying a tiny plane while the other shoots down obstacles and enemies, it creates a dynamic where the players need to trust and depend on each other in order to progress.
Each chapter introduced new items that would influence gameplay and create new puzzle scenarios. For example, during the tree chapter, my brother received a sap launcher, while I had a sniper rifle full of matchsticks. He had to coat a surface or enemy in sap, while I would use my matchsticks to explode them. This was necessary to destroy barriers, as well as take down enemies in combat.
I found each of the boss battles in It Takes Two to be really inventive and unique. One level had us fighting an evil vacuum, fleeing from flying thumb tacks and deadly gusts of wind. Another boss saw us going toe-to-toe with a large mechanical wasp that commanded a fleet of very angry, very real wasps. They were equally challenging as they were entertaining, and I was always excited to see what would be waiting for us at the end of the next chapter.
It Takes Two defines itself as a “genre-bending game,” and that truly is the best way to describe it. From platforming, to puzzles, and even on-rails shooting, It Takes Two is a melting pot of different gaming genres.
Throughout your adventure, players will stumble upon different minigames for them to compete in. This includes whack-a-mole, as well as a pixelated tank game. It’s more of that genre-bending that the game prides itself on. These minigames are scattered throughout the world and must be discovered in order to unlock. Once unlocked, players can select them from the main menu. If you miss it, it will be tagged as “undiscovered” in the menu and will not be playable until found. It’s a bit annoying not having them automatically unlock as you progress but I really enjoyed the change of pace that the minigames offered.
In holy matrimony
Playing It Takes Two took me back to the era of couch co-op games that I would play with my friends and family. The shared laughs, frustrations, and triumphs are an aspect of co-op games that I had sorely missed. With inventive and creative gameplay puzzles coupled with some unique environments, It Takes Two is without a doubt the greatest couch co-op game I’ve played in recent memory.
This review is based on a digital PC code provided by the publisher. It Takes Two releases on March 26 on Xbox, PlayStation, and PC for $39.99.
It Takes Two
- Creative and inventive gameplay
- Interesting and complex characters
- Minigames are a fun companion to the campaign
- Unique environments
- Some worlds are less interesting than others
- No way to unlock minigames without finding them
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, It Takes Two review: Together forever