Hazelight Studio‘s It Takes Two has soon to be divorced Cody and May wake up to find that they have been turned into two little dolls. In order to restore themselves to their true bodies, they put aside their fractured relationship and set out to find their daughter, Rose. Along the way they run into an odd cast of characters ranging from a group of militant squirrels to a vindictive vacuum. The innovative gameplay, subtle commentary, and intriguing characters all build up into one of the best co-op experiences of 2021.
One major element that keeps It Takes Two continuously engaging is the unique powers that come with each new chapter. One segment has Cody throwing nails to create a path for May to swing on with her hammer, while another gives May a watering can to help transform Cody into a variety of helpful plants. Throughout the entire game, these abilities are always fun and engaging, no matter which character you play. I had just as much fun slinging nails as Cody as I did smashing bottles with May’s hammer.
These abilities are far from one dimensional though. Within each chapter the players must use their individual powers in unique ways to traverse the landscape and defeat enemies. This all culminates into a boss fight at the end of each chapter that puts the players’ knowledge of their abilities to the test.
In addition to the diverse gameplay, It Takes Two spans a wide variety of unique locations from the mystical tree in the family’s backyard to the chilly mountains of a snow globe. Completing the story gives a sense of having gone on an actual journey with our characters, both emotionally and physically.
Subtle relationship commentary
Speaking of characters, It Takes Two has some really interesting ones. At first, I thought Cody and May were rather uninteresting and plain. However, as the story progressed and revealed more about their relationship, this dysfunctional couple became increasingly complex and relatable.
It Take Two subtly addresses relationships in a way that’s easy to miss among the wackiness of the game’s world. One particularly potent idea is that Cody and May’s dissatisfaction with their relationship may be in part due to their dissatisfaction with themselves.
However, the couple’s guide throughout this journey – a talking book called Dr. Hakim – is one character I could really do without. He is by design a well-meaning yet annoying guide, but without any redeeming qualities to actually make him an enjoyable character. Whenever a cut scene with Dr. Hakim popped up, I couldn’t help but internally roll my eyes as he spouted some generic relationship advice. Fortunately, this does little to bring down the experience as a whole, and there are several genuinely emotional moments involving Cody, May, and their daughter.
It Takes Two features some of the most innovative and engaging gameplay of any co-op title in recent memory. It’s the kind of game I really hope to see succeed, so that other studios may take note that there is still a market for some classic couch co-op, especially if it comes attached to a good story.
If you are looking for other co-op adventures for you and your friends, be sure to check out our new co-op games to play in 2021 list.