It Takes Two (PS4) Review

Richard Walker

It Takes Two is a proper one-off. A pure co-op experience, developer Hazelight's latest adventure is the happy-go-lucky sibling to 2018's A Way Out, albeit one that adopts a fairly serious subject as its scenario – the breakdown of a relationship that's having an adverse effect on a little girl, Rose, whose tears fulfil a wish: that her parents can somehow work things out. Initiating a spell, warring couple May and Cody are transformed into dolls, and, with the guidance of an exuberant, annoying, and always outrageous anthropomorphic 'Book of Love' named Dr. Hakim, the pair must figure out how to put a stop to their squabbling and collaborate.


FFS… This twat again.

What follows is one of the most inventive and constantly varied platformers we've ever played, a freewheeling adventure that hurls new ideas into its big pot at every turn. From the confines of the garden shed, you'll soon battle a giant flailing vacuum cleaner, aid militant squirrels in fighting an aggressive army of wasps inside a tree, bound through a world of pillow forts and toys, solving puzzles and traversing massive, tactile environments. Playable only in co-op (online or locally via split-screen), the entire game requires communication and coordination. Each segment is elegantly designed and expertly put together, and every moment is completely different from the last. There's absolutely no room for even a solitary second of boredom.

As clay doll Cody and wooden marionette May, you each have your own unique tools and gadgets to mess about with at various junctures, whether it's Cody's sap-firing cannon and May's sap-igniting matchstick launcher, or May's hammer and Cody's nails, there's an unending flow of new co-op mechanics to master from one section to the next. It's brilliant. Best of all, the core platforming mechanics are as tight as a drum; double jumping, dashing, swinging, butt-bouncing, and rail grinding all provide effortless traversal across moving plateaus and treacherous terrain. This being an experience built entirely around co-op, the difficulty curve could have been an issue, but, firstly, you both have to die to fail, and secondly, failing is never much of a setback. Clearly, It Takes Two wants you to have unbridled fun, and won't let anything get in the way of that remit.


Practically every inch of It Take Two's gigantic world, viewed from your shrunken-down perspective, has some sort of doohickey or distraction to interact and play with, too – Hazelight revels in allowing you some time to just mess around, not unlike certain junctures in A Way Out. Meanwhile, set pieces – like shifting Cody and May's weight on a glider to keep it on course, driving a handcar together, or steering toy dinosaurs – keep you on your toes, and some moments even ape other genres in smart, unexpected ways. One standout moment has Cody and May adopting the respective roles of ice-casting wizard and fire-wielding knight, before the game temporarily mimics a dungeon-trawling action RPG like Diablo for a bit.

These are but a few examples in a game bursting at the seams with different mechanics, co-op puzzling potential, and genre mash-ups – to list them all would just spoil the fun, so we won't. Suffice it to say that what we've mentioned here is but the tip of a very big iceberg. As for the story, the whole thing moves along at a swift pace, frequently changing things up and injecting plenty of humour into what is essentially quite an emotional yarn. Before you know it, 15-odd hours have flown by and you'll have loved every deliriously frolicsome minute of it. Where Overcooked! has you screaming at your co-op friends, It Takes Two makes it impossible not to be brought even closer as you triumphantly overcome its procession of inventive co-op contraptions and conundrums. Although, I will admit to yelling at my fiancé a few times when she’d miss simple platform jumps. Sorry, Elyse.


Kablooie!

A singularly jubilant experience, It Takes Two is one of the finest, if not the finest co-op games we've ever played. Positively brimming with invention and playful brio, Hazelight and director Josef Fares have found their niche and chiselled out something truly unique and special. Surely no one could possibly play this and not have a silly smile painted across their face from beginning to end – we need a lot more games like this, particularly in lockdown, where collaboration is a necessity, success provides a moment of air-punching satisfaction, and boredom is a dirty word. It Takes Two is quite simply one of 2021's most delightful surprises; a game with no pretences beyond being pure and unfettered two-player fun. An absolute joy.

It Takes Two (PS4)

A game that provides a healthy dollop of pathos with its co-operative joy, It Takes Two is an unadulterated shot of fun brimming with inventive puzzles and smart ideas. Sure, some of its metaphors for the breakdown happening in May and Cody's relationship might be a little heavy-handed, but there's so much to love here that it's hard to care about such trifles. It Takes Two is a breath of fresh air and total co-op nirvana.

Form widget
90%
Audio
90%

Fantastic, energetic voice-acting and a delightful score. Just lovely.

Visuals
90%

Everything looks so rich and tactile, you feel like you could reach into the screen and touch it. And there's nary a single glitch in sight.

Playability
90%

Simply glorious. It Takes Two's platforming is tight and responsive, and given the amount of different mechanics and activities thrown at you, there's not one duff note here.

Delivery
90%

Dozens of different gameplay mechanics to discover, a bunch of hidden easter eggs (including a bleeped snippet of Josef Fare's infamous “f**k the Oscars” outburst), loads of puzzles, mini-games, and more. Amazing.

Trophies
70%

A poor spread means it's a long while before you'll unlock anything, but you're duly compensated later on with a stack of smart and interesting objectives to tackle. A small list, but decent enough.

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