Developer – Hazelight Studios
Publisher – Electronic Arts
Platform(s) – PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC
MSRP – $39.99
Release Date – March 26, 2021
Disclaimer: Review Copy Was Provided For This Review
Before It Takes Two, I had never played a single game from Josef Fares and the team over at Hazelight Studios. Fares’ debut game titled Brothers was never on my radar at all and I had always wanted to play his second game, A Way Out but just never got around to it. I didn’t want to make that same mistake another time around so I made sure It Takes Two was on my radar.
It Takes Two has been in development for about 3 years at this point. For those not familiar with the direction that Fares and Hazelight usually take, it’s always a co-op experience. It Takes Two is no exception in this regard, there is no single-player and it can only be played by local or online play with another player.
I usually don’t play co-op games but I needed to experience a Josef Fares game for the first time and It Takes Two released at the right place and time so that I could fully invest myself into this title.
It Takes Two puts you and another player in the roles of May and Cody Goodwin, a couple with a looming divorce who are parents to their young daughter, Rose. Through certain circumstances, (I won’t talk about in-depth to avoid certain story spoilers) May and Cody end up occupying dolls that are hand-made by Rose. May and Cody are tasked with reaching Rose to fix this dilemma and get back into their human bodies.
The narrative works well enough, I just felt I never connected with May and Cody as characters the way I was meant to. The scenes between May and Cody can be very hit or miss at times and it has nothing to do with the actors, Annabelle Dower and Joseph Balderrama do fantastic work in their roles, the dialogue just wasn’t as consistent as I would’ve liked. The only times where the story shines through consistently are the scenes involving Rose.
It simply can be too cheesy and cringy for my taste at times. Even after all that, the narrative wasn’t a deal-breaker in the slightest. To me, the narrative isn’t the main reason I was excited to play this game, everything surrounding it was the reason why.
As May and Cody, you and another player will work together through a series of levels and challenges. One thing that was extremely apparent to me very early into my playthrough was the focus on one thing, variety.
No area feels similar to the last and you’ll always be doing something different. One moment you’re fighting a vacuum cleaner, another moment you’re riding the back of a beetle, then you’re steering an airplane while your companion shoots down enemies on the back of the plane. Everything feels so unique and unusual and that’s what makes the game so endearing.
You literally go from fighting a giant wasp to solving math problems in the span of an hour and it feels so organically done by that point in the game. It Takes Two is the perfect example of a video game that is simply fun to play. It doesn’t take itself seriously in the slightest and it makes the game better for it.
It also helps that this game controls and runs extremely well. The fact that I played through the entirety of It Takes Two exclusively through online play without a single technical mishap or input lag is a worthy achievement in its own right. The fact this was accomplished with a studio the size of Hazelight doesn’t seise to impress me.
They even put in mini-games throughout the levels that vary from a whack-a-mole style game or a tug of war. Little things like this didn’t have to be put in, but they’re there anyway and it makes the game better for it.
The overall design in every aspect of It Takes Two is masterful. The level design is creatively done and it makes figuring out certain tasks enough of a challenge that it keeps the game at a steady flow. Certain areas that at first, you might think are too big to navigate without getting confused end up being a joy to explore.
Don’t even get me started on the enemy design, the regular enemies are good but the boss battles are on a whole nother level. I’d rather not spoil a lot of the big battles because you should experience it for yourself but let’s just say, the theme of variety is especially apparent in these boss battles.
It Takes Two main selling point is in its gameplay and the team over at Hazelight Studios couldn’t have done a better job on this aspect. The soundtrack isn’t one of the most memorable for me, but I’d be doing this component a disservice if I didn’t mention how catchy it can be in some parts.
This game does so many things right inside and outside of its actual game. It Takes Two does something that A Way Out did as well. Only one person has to own the game in order for you and someone else to play it online. It’s called the “Friend’s Pass” and it’s a welcome move that drew more eyes that this game might not have otherwise.
The price point of USD 39.99 may seem like a bit of an eye-opener for a game like this but I guarantee that you’ll get your money’s worth in terms of content. This isn’t a 5-7 hour experience, it’s a 12-15 hour experience that I never found boring. It doesn’t drag, it goes as long as it needs to tell its story coherently.
It Takes Two doesn’t have the strongest narrative and its dialogue could be a bit more consistent. What it lacks in that area, it more than makes up for in its gameplay. It’s full of variety, creativity, its overall design is excellent in every way. Josef Fares and Hazelight Studios have created a game that has ensured I will check out whatever their next title is and I think you should too.
Rating - 9/10