GAME REVIEW: It Takes Two

Title: It Takes Two

Developer: Hazelight Publisher: Electronic Arts

Release Date: March 26th, 2021

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Introduction: It Takes Two is an action-adventure co-op that places its players May and Cody inside of dolls as they traverse many interesting locations on a journey to reclaim their human bodies while rebuilding there relationship.     

Synopsis: 

May and Cody are having marital problems and are in the process of a divorce. Their daughter Rose is worried and sad and often plays by herself to deal with her parents fighting. When Rose cries out for help for her parents near the magical pages of Dr. Hakim, The Book of Love, their souls are transplanted into handmade dolls that she had crafted.       

It Takes Two starts off with Cody and May arguing and voicing to one another that they are getting a divorce. Lurking around the corner is Rose, their daughter, who overhears this and ultimately is hurt by the conversation. She retrieves two dolls she made to embody the likeness of her parents and heads out to the shed, where she wishes that her parents stay together. Her Imagination, pleas to The Book of Love, and tears that fall upon her clay dolls, mix to create a situation in which her parents wake up within the home-made toys. This is where the adventure truly starts.

The parents wake up, and within a few moments become dazed, confused, and a bit hysterical from the new body they inhibit as well as the unfamiliar perspective. After trying to adjust to the new changes, the book in which Rose had held appears. He is loud, over the top, and is on a mission to help the couple. He instructs them to work together to get to their daughter. This is when you first experience the game as well as how it engages with the players as they team up in all sorts of unique and fun ways.

Progression through each chapter is met with a variety of locations, mechanics, and minigames. Your progress ultimately brings you to your goal while tying up a few loose ends as the story unfolds. Come together for your daughter and reach your human bodies, while discovering yourself and your partners soul.   

Analysis:

The incredible world of It Takes Two: As you start the game you see a quaint house in the country that seems like an amazing location to live within, though the cozy feeling you receive drastically shifts as you find out that the parents want to get a divorce and you can feel their daughter Rose’s pain. The game eventually takes this feeling and puts your characters side by side within homemade clay figures, which changes the worlds perspective giving you a Legend of Zelda: Minish Cap vibe from being so small. Because of this point of view shift, ordinary everyday locations and items become fun areas to explore, but also obstacles to overcome.

The locations are beautiful and varied and within these areas a plethora of activities can be found to participate in with your player two. Here are a few locations you will come across:

  • A squirrel and wasp infested tree.
  • A snow globe filled with wintery scenes and under water mysteries.
  • A cuckoo clock with all the bells and whistles.
  • An overgrown infested garden and greenhouse.
  • A child’s imagination-filled toy room.

And so much more.

Each Area was over the top and filled to the brim with extras and everything catches your attention. A few examples I can recall from the game is an area that you will need to stray from the main path by using a boat, where you find a Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Easter egg, as well as an area that pays homage to Hazelight’s previous game, A Way Out.    

One of the biggest noticeable characters also includes Dr. Hakim. The Book of Love. He is constantly popping up during the adventure and creating tasks and situations for May and Cody to accomplish. Each stage has a new lesson to learn that the book conveys to the players and from there they set out to complete each mission. The main emphasis that the book and the studio itself is trying to teach you within marriage is time, attraction, and passion. these key elements, when looked at and meditated on will help oneself and in turn their relationships with others. A deep concept that I loved to relate myself to while walking in May and Cody’s shoes.

The gameplay

Besides a great story, gorgeous locations, and powerful soundtrack, we have an amazing arsenal of gameplay mechanics that vary for each player. What is fun about each level is that you can obtain different mechanics unique to each player, that does not overstay its welcome. In the first area you are in a shed and are tasked with reaching your daughter. Each player is given a unique ability, which if you play as May you get a hammer and Cody can throw and retrieve nails, May can open areas up and fling Cody using her mechanic while Cody creates a route that May can swing on to new areas as well as a way to attack enemies. The journey through each level is extremely fun and you are rewarded in each differently. In this first area you come across an upset vacuum cleaner that you both abandoned and left to rust. The vacuum has some words for May and Cody and soon after a boss fight surges. You must work together to avoid getting sucked out of existence. One of you must load a vacuum tube with flaming cannisters while the other aims at the angry cleaning appliance, all while avoiding dust clouds, fiery cans, and sharp tacks. This is just one of the many intricate bosses you will encounter in the game with plenty of other mechanics to combat them. Some examples of other interesting mechanics you will come across are, a sniper rifle, explosive gel bazooka, plant transformations, magnets, flying, boating, and spider riding and web slinging.

Some other gameplay features are minigames that you both play against each other. Some fun ones I enjoyed were stockcars, snow wars, tug of war, and even a full game of chess. A total of 25 games can be discovered and enjoyed.  

The game had minimal issues but I did have a few things I did not care for such as a scene of animal toy cruelty, which was more a sad thing to witness then anything. As a parent, my wife and I did not relate to there choices that they chose to follow through with. Another instance was a performance towards the end that was simply lackluster and caused a bit of disappointment after completing a subsequent amount of tasks. It was defiantly unrewarding in that aspect. Other than these few things it was an amazing experience.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Final Score – 4.5

It Takes Two was one of the most interesting and fun games I have come across and I cannot wait until I see what comes next from Hazelight. They have given me multiple experiences I will not soon forget nor will my wife Aaren who was my second player within the world of It Takes Two, she said,

I really enjoyed playing the game. It was one of the best two player games I’ve played. I love that we both really had to work together and communicate to do some of the missions. Some of my favorite parts were the small things you would find in the house to play with that weren’t necessary to the main storyline. Like, the Zelda smashing pots room, the mini games, and all the little toys to play with in Rose’s room.

-Aaren Kelley-

For me, with each task we completed the closer we got to know one another, both in the game and the real world. The game is definitely something special and lives up to its, Game of the Year status it received at the 2021 Video Game Awards. Please live, laugh, and ready your player two as you journey through the amazing world of It Takes Two.   

Shane Kelley is a Staff writer for Boss Rush Network, as well as a writer for Another Zelda Podcast. His favorite game is The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. You can find him on Twitter to talk video games, Marvel, and axe throwing.

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