It Takes Two offers a heartbreaking and hilarious take on co-op platforming

Articles: Gaming
Jun 11, 2021 Written by:ROG Article

High in the tops of some trees nestled into pastoral farmland, we started to argue. Shrunken into the form of two tiny dolls, my girlfriend and I were navigating a warzone of hornets and squirrels. We pushed through blockades of hornets using unique weapons acquired from the squirrel forces. My weapon, the Tree Sap Habschaiki 57, froze the hornets in their tracks, while my partner’s DrillBazzer X200 launched nails that ignited the sap. Even though we had to work together, our player characters couldn’t stop making snarky comments about each other. Despite those differences, we expelled the remaining hornets from the squirrels’ tree. Little by little, each victory brought us closer together despite our quarrels. We entered the tree bitter from constant bickering, but we left unified.

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It Takes Two is a co-op platformer that challenged me and my girlfriend to navigate fascinating puzzles and explore a heartfelt story—together. The game puts us in the shoes of May and Cody, a couple whose relationship is on the rocks. Right from the start, it’s clear that our protagonists have lost whatever connection they once had, and they inform their daughter that they want a divorce. Little did we know that the pair were about to get the Ant-Man treatment. All their plans were about to change.

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With the help of the magical Dr. Hakim, the Book of Love, our daughter cast a spell on us that shrunk us down into two doll-sized versions of ourselves. Things looked grim for us in our tiny new bodies. Hakim, a living manifestation of all things love, informed us that the key to breaking this curse was love itself. We would have to overcome a series of challenges to get back to our daughter, mend our broken relationship, and regain our true forms.

Our new bodies brought a fascinating new perspective to an otherwise ordinary countryside home. Everyday objects like tables and chairs became fascinating obstacles that required careful navigation. My girlfriend and I often paused along our journey, caught up in the creative environments It Takes Two presents. We started in a simple backyard shed, but by the time the game was through, we’d navigated unexpected settings like a hollow tree, our daughter’s bedroom, and a cuckoo clock.

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It Takes Two is filled with real moments of emotion, but the drama is lightened with delightfully corny humor. Throughout our journey, we encountered a variety of anthropomorphic characters that provided us with new tools and traits. The contrast between the cartoonish characters and the weight of our relationship's drama kept every moment engaging.

The game’s premise and level design are plenty engaging on their own, but it’s the voice acting that really sealed the deal for us. My girlfriend and I became fully invested in the conflicts of our characters thanks to cutscenes that looked and sounded like they came straight out of a Pixar film. Engaging with NPCs and enemies often rewarded us with brilliant dialogue. When solving a puzzle together, the characters begin to give each other compliments that slowly mend their frayed relationship. The deeper story buried within the clever settings brings out the raw emotion and vulnerability from each character that makes It Takes Two so special.

My girlfriend and I had played through Portal 2’s co-op mode not long before picking up It Takes Two, so we were naturally curious about how the two games would stack up as shared experiences. As it turns out, the games don’t have a lot in common. The light-hearted gameplay of It Takes Two encourages dialogue and conversation rather than experimentation and reasoning. It Takes Two let us enjoy our gaming time together without the mental breaks and trips to YouTube for hints that we needed to progress through Portal 2

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You won’t need an advanced degree in physics to solve It Takes Two’s puzzles, but the constant need for teamwork makes the game's platformer mechanics feel fresh and new. Each new zone offers completely different mechanics in addition to novel scenery. At our strongest moments, we flew through levels together in perfect sync. Mini-games and boss fights scattered throughout the game demanded direct communication for perfectly timed shots and cooperative blows to enemies.

Couch co-op is back, and it couldn't have come at a better time for me and my partner. It Takes Two gave us a rewarding and emotionally engaging game to enjoy together, and it was an unforgettable journey. As our two player characters rekindled their frayed marriage through the successes of our creative co-op gameplay, we strengthened our own relationship, too. If you’ve got a friend or significant other who loves platformers as much as you do, grab this game and a couple controllers and get ready for one-of-a-kind experience.

By Brian May