It Takes Two review

It Takes Two is a co-op game where you play as the soon-to-be-divorced pairing of Cody and May. Much like the plot of an 80s Disney movie, they have been turned into toys, and they have to reach their daughter to figure out how to turn back into humans. This is co-op gameplay at its very best, in one of 2021’s stand-out games.

Hazelight Studios have found their niche and its co-op games. A Way Out was set in a prison, and they have followed that up with another pairing trapped. This time they are trapped as tiny figurines in a big world, and you and a friend have to navigate our protagonist double act to safety. The platforming and puzzles are so well thought out, unique and fun, you would almost think this was made by Nintendo. It wasn’t, it was made by Hazelight Studios, and given what they have achieved here with It Takes Two, I think you should be paying attention to whatever they make next.

We start out the game with Cody and May arguing, with their daughter watching in the background. Cody and May are married, but they are bickering, and it appears as if the marriage is breaking down beyond repair. Their daughter is playing with toys in the window watching all this occur, at the same time playing with toys, pretending they are her parents and she’s imagining them making up and living happily ever after. She cries and wishes at the same time for them to fix their marriage so they can stay together as a family. At that moment, Cody and May transform into toys.

Cody and May then have to make their way from the back garden, back into the house to reach their daughter, but given that they are now tiny and the world is supersized, it’s going to be some task. Plus you are going to have to work together.

This is the main premise of It Takes Two, it’s a co-op platforming, puzzle adventure where you have to play with someone else. You can do this either in a local co-op or online. Personally, my wife and I played couch co-op, and I don’t think we’ve played better games since Super Mario 3D World in terms of pure co-op fun.

There are so many ideas in here and they come at you with a frantic pace. One minute you’ll be chasing around spark plugs with legs and fighting a giant hoover, then next you’ll be fighting a squirrel. The game manages to switch between gameplay styles from platformer, puzzler, sometimes beat ’em up, and dungeon crawler, all very seamlessly and with confidence and ease. The different gameplay styles don’t feel crowbarred in, it feels organic and well placed, but aware of making the player’s time more entertaining.

The core gameplay mechanics feel great too. Cody and May have the basics, they can jump, double jump, dash, and duck. They are responsive and the movements are funny in themselves too, for example when you hold down the left stick and run fast, somehow even that is entertaining too. As well as the basics, the characters have abilities that change from level to level. Cody and May’s abilities complement one another too, often working in tandem so you can navigate the environments or battles enemies. The game eases you in with a simple tutorial, then slowly ramps up the difficulty.

The main protagonists are fun and responsive, easy to control, and offer up plenty of variety when it comes to skills and ways to play. The environments are equally as enticing. The small character in a big world is a classic move, made famous by Honey I Shrunk The Kids or Innerspace. There’s something fascinating about a supersized world, and here the developers have done a great job is creating a playful world where so much of it is interactive, plus enjoyable. Finding the fun is a phrase often used in games, and there’s plenty of fun to be found here in It Takes Two.

The gameplay is outstanding with surprises around every corner that will no doubt delight you and whoever is playing with you. The story is OK, if not a little predictable, but it’s not your 90s feel-good story, it’s more of a modern take. Outside of the two main characters Dr. Hakim, the Book Of Love can get on your nerves a little bit. He’s there along for the ride to try and get Cody and May back together, but his voice work and overall character design is pretty annoying.

One of the best things about It Takes Two is it’s easy to play with someone else. If you buy the game you get a code for someone else, so it’s very easy to pick up and play. It was also added to Xbox Game Pass recently, making it even easier to play.

It Takes Two is an ambitious co-op puzzle platformer that’s so well executed, it makes you sit up and take notice regarding what Hazelight Studios are doing. Here they have crafted a wonderful game in terms of gameplay and constantly changing and evolving mechanics, without it feeling forced or complicated. It’s a touching story and a highly memorable game, and if you haven’t played it then you really should. I’d recommend playing with a loved one, be that a partner, kid or parent, it’ll be a great experience you can look back on together.

Developer: Hazelight Studios
Publisher: EA
Platforms: Xbox, PlayStation, PC, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 26th March 2021