It Takes Two Review

An incredible co-op experience with astounding gameplay variety

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Written by Josh Humphriss

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Posted: 16 Jun, 2023

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Modified: 16 Jun, 2023

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215 views

It Takes Two

A story-driven co-op platformer with loads of different gameplay mechanics

15 Outstanding
Rank: #9
Tech Score: -1

Awards: The Variety Award, The Co-Op Award

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15 hours

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January 2022

Introduction

There are very few co-op only games on the market, with Hazelight being the main studio to exclusively focus on these types of game. Following on from their success with A Way Out, they absolutely nailed it again with another brilliant game that requires exactly two players. A risky choice, but one that has definitely paid off.

Hazelight are pioneering a new genre here, and have pulled off another incredible game that proves how this can be so successful. This game will pave the way for many other games in the future, which is why I am so glad it's got the recognition it deserves with game of the year at the game awards and strong critic and user scores alike. Additionally, if you buy the game, your friend can play for free! If you have someone to play with, this is really not one to be missed (and after you've finished, go back to the previous game "A Way Out").

Gameplay Variety

You may wonder "well, what actually is this game?". The truth is, it's way too varied to fit into a specific genre. The closest fit would be describing it as a platformer as most of the gameplay is platforming-related, but there's so much more going on that it feels very reductive to use this label. In addition to platforming there's boss fights, puzzles, story, racing, flying, tower defence, chess, street fighter and so much more. One minute you'll be fighting an angry hoover, and the next you'll be sitting in a relationship class. The gameplay variety is astounding, always changing long before it could possibly get boring. I was consistently amazed at just how many different mechanics Hazelight managed to squeeze into a 15-hour experience, which will pave the way for future games like this.

Level Design & Visuals

The level design is very strong, both at facilitating interesting gameplay and being visually appealing. The levels always seemed to take advantage of the mechanics well, and the art style allows the game to look great while also not being too demanding to run. Not much more to say here without spoiling anything - it's good!

Story & Writing

Running through the middle of this is an okay story about May and Cody's relationship struggles however this story felt like it was designed to faciliatate the gameplay experiences rather than the story being the focus. This makes a lot of sense, as this is first and foremost a gameplay driven experience, so don't go in expecting a groundbreaking story.

The writing is fine, although not brilliant. I initially liked the style of the book of love for example, however it did start to get annoying after a lot of experiences throughout the game. Some of the writing can be a bit weak, especially in the moments which were meant to be particularly impactful, but it didn't ruin my experience. Overall, the writing isn't the strongest part of the game but it isn't the weakest either, it's "fine".

Co-Op

Of course, I can't address this game without discussing its main differentiator - this game can only be played in two player co-op. This is a bold move that very few studios are willing to do, but the game is so much stronger as a result. Everything about the game is designed from the ground up to be played with two players, facilitating experiences that would not be possible otherwise. It is very rare that May and Cody receive the same abilities, they are almost always different and complementary, allowing you to solve puzzles together with your unique strengths. Of course, this does mean that sometimes different people get the ability that is more fun, but it varies so often that this never becomes much of a drawback. Throughout the game you always have to work together to complete the task - both players always feel useful as you always have predefined roles, meaning it's not possible for one player to take over and carry out most of the tasks. This makes the game great to play with just about anyone, even if they are not experienced with playing games, as it's intuitive and easy to pick up, and also you won't find that you end up carrying as the game doesn't let you!

Split Screen

Unfortunately, the game does have a few drawbacks. My biggest annoyance with the game was that even when playing online co-op, you have to have split screen. While it was well-implemented and I did get used to it, this was annoying and felt unnecessary - it would've been nice to have an option to disable this. I think it was to make it easier to see what your partner is doing, but I can have their screen share open on another monitor so I'd prefer to be in full screen the whole time. This isn't as major as I initially thought it was, but it was still a bit annoying.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a phenominal game. Each of the individual mechanics could've been made into a game on their own, but having so many in a single game leads to such a varied and unique experience that I thoroughly enjoyed playing and look forward to playing again at some point. Grab a friend - you don't want to miss this game.

As a final note, only one of you needs to own the game! If one person buys the game, the other can download the friend's pass to play along for free. This is a great monetisation model for a co-op game and I'm so glad they've chosen to do it like this.

Similar Games

If you enjoyed this game, be sure to check out:

A Way Out

The previous game by the same studio is also excellent. It doesn't have the same gameplay variety that this game has pioneered but contains the same level of co-op that you see in this game. You can see how this game allowed the studio to develop It Takes Two, and why it is such a great game in its own right.

Portal 2 Co-Op

If you're more into the co-op side of it, then I've heard portal 2 co-op is very good, although haven't played it myself.

Pico Park

Pico park is quite amazing in the fact that every single level will work with anywhere from 2 to 8 players, dynamically adjusting to always make everyone is needed. It's a fun game that will probably make you hate each other more than when you started but that's slightly the point. More suited for a larger group of friends but works well with any number of people which is quite remarkable.