IT TAKES TWO
By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on March 30, 2021
While some things are undoubtedly best enjoyed alone, there are a lot of other things that are best enjoyed together. A fun afternoon in the sun, a birthday, a fancy meal, a freak magic spell that turns you into a puppet and sends you on a magical adventure of epic proportions... wait, what? Yes, I know that last one may sound far-fetched, but in the case of Cody and May, a couple on the brink of divorce, it is all too true!
Meet Cody and May, two ordinary people with rather ordinary lives... up till now, that is. May is the breadwinner of the family, working overtime and pouring everything into her career, while Cody is an easy-going stay-at-home dad who spends most of his time taking care of their daughter, Rose. The spark in their relationship is thoroughly gone, which is why they decide to get a divorce. Now all they have to do is tell their little girl the sad news. Rose is deeply saddened by the upcoming separation, so she hatches a plot to get her mom and dad to stay together. You see, Rose has a book... and not just any old book, no sir; it's the book of love by Dr. Hakim. This helpful tome, along with the magical power of Rose's tears, turns Cody and May into two puppets and now they'll have to work together if they want to stand a snowball's chance in hell of being turned back to their normal selves. Thus their quest begins!
After recovering from the initial shock that unavoidably comes from being turned into puppets, the couple meets the aforementioned Book of Love, which turns out to be quite the character. Combine the smooth manners of Antonio Banderas as Zorro with the sheer unwillingness to listen to another's point of view of Willy Wonka and you might begin to come close to the personality of this larger-than-life Love Doctor. So, whether they like it or not, Cody and May are in this together and it is teamwork that will get them out of their current predicament. This is also true of the players going on this quest. Just like Hazelight Studios' first title, A Way Out, you cannot play this game alone; you will have to work together with another person if you want to go on this grand adventure. Seeing as how Cody and May are a married couple, and since she is my greatest collaborator, I played this game together with my wife, Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee and we had an absolute blast! Don't worry, you don't have to be married to enjoy this game. And yes, I know not everyone out there plays well with others, but trust me when I say that you should really make an effort, because this is one adventure you surely won't want to miss out on!
Dr. Hakim sends our unwilling couple is on a journey to repair their relationship and discover what it was that brought them together in the first place. Of course, with their minds already made up about the divorce, both Cody and May fail to see how an adventure will change their current situation. Nevertheless, they have no other choice than to do what Dr. Hakim says, so they get on with it. Both characters have the same basic abilities; they can run, jump and use objects in the world, like switches or valves. Apart from this, both of them also get different special abilities, which are also tailored to suit the "work together" theme of the game. The game is divided into multiple chapters, and each chapter comes with brand new special abilities for both May and Cody.
It Takes Two is a 3D puzzle platform action adventure that offers more than enough for players to do. The main story takes you through a series of enchanting looking environments, each beautifully crafted with insane amounts of attention to detail. Everywhere you look, there's something going on and you will probably find yourself just wandering around and looking at everything there is to see, without even thinking about progressing the story. And this is no overstatement; this game is just that beautiful. Whether you're in a fantastical garden, a cool workshop or a magical winter wonderland, the familiar yet somewhat strange surroundings created by the developers at Hazelight Studios truly make you feel like you're making your way through a living, breathing world, down to the tiniest details.
Next, let's take a look at the gameplay. Being a game of the action puzzle platformer, your time in It Takes Two will mostly be spent by running and jumping, interspersed with a number of fun environmental puzzles and a nice number of fights here and there, and it will require the combined efforts and abilities of both characters to successfully negate the obstacles that the game puts in your path. For instance, in the level that plays out in a garden, Cody is given a kind of plant-based grappling hook, while May receives a watering apparatus and a sickle. They will have to work together, using their respective abilities to make it across the garden safely. In another level, you are both given one half of a magnet, so you'll have to combine your "attraction", i.e. magnetic forces, to overcome various obstacles and make it to the end.
The puzzles you'll come across can be challenging, but are nowhere near impossible to solve. Also keep in mind that it's usually teamwork that does the trick, so don't just go gallivanting in different directions, because you won't get very far, I can promise you that. It is wonderful to see how intricate these puzzles are and how far the developers went to create fun yet challenging puzzles for you to solve. You might need to look at things from a different perspective from time to time, but if you put your heads and abilities together, you can solve every conundrum you come across.
Apart from the platform sections, puzzles and fights, the game also offers you a number of mini-games, which pit Cody and May against each other for a bit of friendly competitive fun. How about a tug of war, or a fun game of whack-a-mole? These mini-games can be played over and over again and the game neatly keeps score of how many times either Cody or May have won. And if you're in the mood for some relaxation, just take a stroll through the levels and see the sights they have to offer. Take in a leisurely spa session, or have a snowball fight. The fun thing about these little matches is the fact that they do not progress the story in any way, yet all seem to fit the narration perfectly. The only tip that I can give you is to always keep your eyes open for branching paths, as they may lead you to other areas of fun. There is simply so much to do in this game, you'll probably have to play it a couple of times before you've discovered every little thing it has to offer!
It Takes Two is one of those rare games that just can't seem to do anything wrong. It hits all the marks perfectly and comes out being a truly glorious gaming experience and an adventure to remember. The game features a heart-warming tale about a couple that has drifted apart over the years, absolutely stunning looking environments and characters, a beautiful soundtrack that subtly matches the feel of the various levels and events of the game, and gameplay that can only be described as being enormous amounts of fun! This is one of those occasions on which words cannot express how good a game is. All I can say is that It Takes Two is a more than awesome title that deserves to be played by everyone who loves a fun and beautiful adventure. So grab a friend and embark on this magical journey, either in local or online coop mode. Just remember that you can't do this alone... it really takes two!