It Takes Two Review – Playing Mom and Dad

This is the fifth attempt. We’re both sweating on our hands, failing to drain the life bar of this boss. That’s pretty much how the It Takes Two experience can be described in a nutshell. After centuries of fighting, we manage to coordinate our moves in such a way as to see him taken down, running the next cutscene of the game, where we see the one who gave us so much trouble – a toolbox – defeated. Yes, more jokingly than seriously, we’ve been struggling for more than 30 minutes in a boss fight against a toolbox.

But that’s just a small part of the incredible experience that It Takes Two, the new game from Hazelight Studios, the same studio that gave us A Way Out. In addition to innovative gameplay and a story full of funny and tense moments, this game manages to produce one of the most memorable co-op experiences of all time.

Story

The story of It Takes Two introduces us to the two protagonists, Cody and May, a couple on the brink of divorce. They have a daughter, Rose, who is greatly affected by her parents’ bickering and retreats into the solitude of her toys. Among them are two dolls, one made of glue and one made of wood, who resemble May and Cody. Reading a book, titled “Book of Love”, she begs her to help her parents with their problems and sheds a few tears over the dolls. Following a spell, the consciousness of the two parents is transported inside the two dolls, triggering the action of the game.

In their quest to return to their real bodies, May and Cody must traverse familiar locations in their home, such as a workshop, the tree in their backyard, or Rose’s toy room. The game’s story takes about 10 hours to unfold, but it’s enough to show all aspects of the relationship between the two as they seek to save their marriage.

The moment the two parents find out they’ve turned into dolls

Numerous amusing characters populate the world of the game including the book Rose prayed to, named Dr. Hakim, who constantly puts obstacles in the way of the two in their adventure. In addition to this there are also various bright objects and creatures such as a hammer, a group of guerrilla squirrels, or a stuffed baboon that will help or confuse the two protagonists.

Without getting too far into the story area of It Takes Two and risking mentioning spoilers, it’s very well put together and is a breath of fresh air in a sea of games that take themselves too seriously, but still fail to deliver the same level of fun that It Takes Two does.

Gameplay

Gameplay is the strength of this game, managing to create a co-op experience that competes with the industry’s greats. The game features a well thought out system that we’ve seen in Hazelight Studios’ other game, A Way Out. However, they have managed to improve on every aspect present in A Way Out and create a terrifically fun co-op game.

It Takes Two can only be played in two person co-op, meaning that unfortunately for those of you who might have wanted to give it a shot by playing it alone, this is not possible. While this may be considered a weak point for this game, the charm of the game is the cooperative nature of the two of you – the players.

The main goal of the game is to fix the two protagonists’ craziness, and this is done by traversing various sections of the house, solving puzzles and platforming sections. The puzzles are ingenious and require cooperation from both players, and are very difficult or even impossible to solve alone. But that’s the charm of the game, solving problems together, which will be very fun or very frustrating in most situations.

Also, each level provides the two with different skills or tools with which to solve these puzzles. From nails and a hammer, to the ability to clone themselves, or manipulate time, these skills keep the game fun, so no section ever becomes monotonous.

In addition to clever puzzles, the game presents players with a multitude of puzzles that require both skill and quick thinking. Hazelight Studios has done a wonderful job with this system of boss fights, and they are extremely well designed. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and mechanics of these bosses, which are a successful attempt to increase the difficulty of the game without making it artificially harder.

If you’ve encountered any difficulty with any of the ingenious bosses in the game, follow our guide to how you can defeat each boss in It Takes Two.

Kind of like Diablo, but definitely not Diablo

While puzzles are very well thought out and don’t interrupt the flow of the game very often, there are instances where a puzzle stops players’ progress altogether. I think my girlfriend and I (who I played and finished the game with) do reasonably well at solving puzzles, but there were a few that were not very clear or far too ambiguous to be solved easily without spoiling the natural flow of the game. This takes away from the flow of the game and can cause players to want to abandon the game. In addition to these puzzles there are various mini-games that are extremely entertaining and will put your friendship (or relationship) at risk.

Disregarding these gameplay weaknesses, this is an extremely fun one that will keep you hooked for a long time. If you have no problem beating your head against a puzzle for longer than you need to, you’ll have a great time playing It Takes Two.

Graphics

As far as graphics go, it doesn’t promise much but it doesn’t try to be what it isn’t either. The game runs at a good quality and the existence of graphical bugs or technical issues is almost non-existent. It should be noted, however, that this review was done on the PS4 version of the game, and in this version there were times when the game dropped below 30 frames per second, but it didn’t cause such big problems that it became umplayable.

It Takes Two features cheerful and vibrant colors in almost all of its levels, and the effects and particles present are good to very good. The game’s cutscenes are also very good, with the transition between gameplay and cutscenes often being made without loading screen

Through one of the last levels of the game

While it’s clear that they didn’t try to offer super-realistic graphics, the studio did give us clean graphics with a nice art-style, without the many bugs that are increasingly present in games these days. This game won’t beat graphical benchmarks like Metro Exodus or Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, but neither does it attempt to do so. What it has succeeded in doing, however, is giving us simple, clean and good looking graphics.

Sound

The sound in It Takes Two isn’t the most stellar of the lot, but it’s also not the weakest I’ve ever encountered. The game’s soundtrack fails to stand out very much, with very few songs being “catchy” enough to leave an imprint on players’ memories. That’s not to say, of course, that they’re bad, on the contrary, these are decent songs that fit the atmosphere of the game, but will never be included in a top game soundtrack.

Also, the dialogue of the characters and their voices are not spectacular, a lot of the dialogue is poorly written, or perhaps poorly voiced by the actors. However, the voice actors of Cody and May, the game’s two protagonists, did a very good job of expressing the feelings and moods of the two characters. Also, Dr. Hakim is by far the one who stole the spotlight, his dialogue and Latin-Mexican accent providing comic relief in every scene he appears in.

In conclusion, the game’s sound is forgettable, but it does have its moments, saved by Dr. Hakim and the voice actor who vocalizes it.

First meeting with Dr Hakim

Atmosphere

The atmosphere of the game is particularly enjoyable and fun, and is very much influenced by the cooperative nature of the gameplay. For a game with a relatively sad story, the game gives a comical atmosphere almost all the time, obviously the fact that you’ll be playing with two puppets teaming up with some squirrels helps a lot to set the mood.

You’ll have to communicate, compete with each other at various points in the game and when you try your luck at the multitude of mini-games in the game, all of which positively influence the atmosphere of the game. Often when it comes to co-op games, the atmosphere is particularly enjoyable, and It Takes Two doesn’t shy away from this, with an atmosphere that will put a smile on your face for most of the game.

Conclusion

It Takes Two is a spectacular game that offers innovative gameplay in terms of co-op experience, this is possibly one of the most successful and fun games of its kind ever made. Although it has noticeable weaknesses, especially in terms of sound and a little gameplay, this is a spectacular game that should be played by as many people as possible.

We at Games Row definitely recommend it to any gamer, and maybe, who knows, it could be a contender for game of the year 2021.

UPDATE: It really won Game of the Year Award :).

Our criteria at Games Row for rating games are as objective as can be. Of course, reviews are influenced (also) by personal experiences. So our ratings may not meet everyone’s expectations.

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