Video Game Review: “It Takes Two”

I have spoken positively about developer Hazelight Studios years prior, offering a warm response to their debut videogame A Way Out, which I believe blended co-operative and cinematic gameplay in a way that hadn’t been done prior. Published by Electronic ArtsIt Takes Two marches to the beat of a similar drum, but is complimented by a bunch of new instruments as well. Similar to A Way Out, It Takes Two fully embraces the split screen cooperative multiplayer, both local and online, offering a social spin on the action-adventure, platforming genre.

Director Hidetaka Miyazaki hailed It Takes Two as amongst his favorite videogames released last year, and it’s only fitting that I found myself playing It Takes Two (with my wife) simultaneous to my playthrough of Elden Ring. Both videogames, of course, are very different, but it’s worth acknowledging that, in a sprint competition, I have already completed It Takes Two and still haven’t even scratched the surface of Elden Ring.

It Takes Two is filled to the brim with charm and likability, harkening back to the old-school platformers of yesteryear, all while managing to fill remarkably fresh and distinct in its own right.

The story is simple and straightforward, complimented by fun characters and good voice-acting, following a husband and wife who are in a strained marriage. Their relationship isn’t what it once was, and now, they find themselves staring right into the barrel – now actively pursuing divorce. In a strange series of events, however, they awaken to find they are now trapped in their daughter’s dolls – the consequence of an apparent spell. Now, they must band together and find a way back to their bodies and strengthen their relationship.

It is a very “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” “Freaky Friday” style charm, where the concept is goofy and ridiculous, and yet, absolutely as warm and inviting as you’d hope for.

This isn’t a storyline that will blow your mind by its depth. As a matter of fact, I think you more-or-less can see where its headed straightaway, but that’s okay! It Takes Two has enough charm in its portrayals, visuals, and the way it immerses you in its world that I found myself more than able to enjoy the ride in spite that. Some aspects may come off sappier than ideal. I wasn’t a huge fan of Dr. Hakim, a magical book come to life that guides you through your journey – equating him to a lot of the comic relief characters found in mainstream animated films, but, otherwise, I did really enjoy the back and forth between our two leads.

This videogame, in so many ways, feels like a Pixar videogame if the Pixar company knew how to make videogames. The scenery is bright and wonderful, and goes hard in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I knew prior about how warmly it’d been received, but I didn’t anticipate how much of that would transfer over to my own enjoyment.

The multiplayer component feels groundbreaking for many reasons. Obviously, we have seen prior platformers that incorporate a multiplayer option in someway. For instance, I had so much fun playing Rayman Legends on multiplayer, and, I think, too, it is one of the best multiplayer experiences I’ve ever had.

That in mind, Rayman Legends offers each player the same general experience. Each character does the same things and, in turn, if you removed one of them, although you might have less fun, not a lot else about that would change. It Takes Two was built from the ground-up as a multiplayer videogame, with each character having their own unique abilities and person to identify with.

Like Rayman Legends, and, in fact, even more so, It Takes Two is not willing to rest on its laurels or deliver an ‘ordinary’ platforming videogame experience. Instead, it offers an array of different gameplay ideas, never allowing an idea to overstay its welcome or become tired. It’s actually remarkable the amount of minigames and mechanics that are wedged inside of this bad boy. Some of the ideas don’t always land, but, even when they don’t, a new idea enters the fray a moment afterward, and more often than not, I think they do.

Some of the segments that are over in a blink of the ten hour campaign feel like they could have been the basis of an entire chapter, which shows the amount of thought that went into every facet of It Takes Two’s overall experience.

Some of the most fun parts of A Way Out were the little things. Things that were added in for no other reason than for gamers to toy around with. “Oh, okay, so that isn’t just decoration!” It Takes Two perfects that sentiment, as well as the co-operative experience, offering impromptu sled races and snowball fights, and one of the purest instances of sheer fun I’ve had playing videogames in awhile.

Rating: – 4.4 out of 5.0