By the time the credits rolled on It Takes Two, I almost felt lost for words. For 10 hours or so, I’d been on one of the greatest adventures of all time, witnessing some staggering ideas that don’t just push the boundaries of creativity, they send them into another dimension. I’d ran away from giant moles, ridden spiders from tree to tree, fought snake-like microphones, gone ice skating inside a snow globe, and flown through the air on mechanical birds. Being able to experience all of the wonder with a friend is both an honour and a privilege, and doing so in an expertly crafted platformer is the most fun I’ve had in ages.
A Way Out wasn’t a bad game by any means, but the shift in quality between that an It Takes Two is incredible. The environments are stunning, but also built in such a superb way that you feel completely immersed. Whether you’re trying to make your way through the level itself, interacting with random objects, or playing one of the minigames, there’s so much cool stuff to do. You can play a full game of chess or Bop-It, ride a sled on a half pipe, climb a ‘Helltower,’ or race snails with your mate. Josef Fares is a keen advocate in interactivity over collectables, and it does the game a huge service. Whatever the area, be it the greenhouse, bedroom, or basement, you can interact with so much stuff that it pays to explore everywhere.
It Takes Two review: responsive and tight
The gameplay itself is so responsive and tight. Jumping and dashing through the air feels freeing, and using that to your advantage throughout It Takes Two is just one reason why it feels so satisfying to play. Playing cooperatively is the only way you can play, and with that in mind, Hazelight has constructed plenty of ways for it to work, never reusing the same idea with a different lick of paint. One level sees you utilising two ends of a magnet to push and pull objects, or using them to jump into the air. Then, you’re given another use for them that sees you develop a new way to approach the environment.
In another area, May uses a water gun whilst Cody uses a hook to help you get past annoying plants in an overgrown garden. However, that water gun also softens the ground where particular plants have been sown, allowing Cody to turn into a dandelion or a flower that adds another layer of playability. Every single level sees you given a new ability, and although some are more enjoyable than others, you’re always amazed by just how clever It Takes Two is. No idea outstays its welcome, and even between these co-operative combinations, the levels are filled with such diversity you’re consistently amazed by what you have to do. There are plenty of boss fights too, and working together to take them down is great.
The references to other video games pop up throughout, and whilst I don’t want to spoil them for you here, Hazelight pay homage to your favourite Nintendo game such as Mario Kart and Splatoon, as well as Gears of War and Plants Vs. Zombies. They are playfully included to flesh out your enjoyment, and when you’re not blown away by the gameplay you’re given a nice surprise. The minigames are also worth looking for. There are 25 in total, and the variety on offer never fails to provide a slight detour from the enjoyment of the main adventure. There’s a tug of war, a Tron runner, a theme park-inspired snake feeding game, and retro tank battler to name just a few.
The story that threads itself throughout the cutscenes and even in the main game centres around Cody and May, two parents on the brink of divorce, and the child that suffers as a result. When Rose, their daughter, witnesses them arguing, she cries onto two homemade toys and her tears send Cody and May’s consciousness into them. From that moment, you become these two toys, and it is up to you to return to normality. Throughout It Takes Two, the story takes centre stage. You often forget what’s happening due to the fun you’re having, but every now and again, a cutscene or line of dialogue reminds you of the sadness that encapsulates the reason you became the dolls in the first place.
Funny but moving
The writing is excellent in It Takes Two. It can be hilarious at times, thanks to the wonderful Dr. Hakim, but it can also be upsetting. Regardless of the emotion you feel, every line of dialogue is beautifully acted by Cody, May, and the doctor. There’s a great rapport between the two parents, and the further you progress, the more their failings begin to show, as well as the reason they fell in love in the first place. The closing moments hit you like a ton of bricks, highlighting just how much of an adventure you’ve had, and how powerful love can be. Some moments hit close to home, especially when Cody and May took things for granted, but it reminds you about how lucky you are in your own lives.
It Takes Two is without a doubt one of the best platformers I’ve played in the last decade. The level design is incredible, and the amount of ideas in terms of its co-operative elements make every second of it so much fun to play. It’s a fairly long game, and the fact that it never gets dull makes it great value for money, especially with the ‘Friend Pass’ option. As soon as it finished, I wanted to play through it again, and with both May and Cody having different abilities, it provides another reason to dive back in for a second time. There’s so much I wanted to talk about, but those moments deserve to be experienced for yourselves. Please, if you play any game this year, play It Takes Two. You won’t regret it.
Tight and responsive gameplay
Excellent level design
Co-operative gameplay is incredible
Dr. Hakim is the MVP
Some levels aren't as fun as others