Initial release date: March 26, 2021
Developer: Hazelight Studios
Writer(s): Soni Jorgensen; Josef Fares
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Genres: Platform game, Action-adventure game, Adventure
"Review Copy Provided by EA"
Josef Fares is an absolute gaming genius. Yes I said that and it is an undisputable fact of life. Josef and his team at Hazellight Studios have created some of the most creative and innovative games out there with them being built solely around local/online co-op gameplay which is honestly a dying trend in gaming with so many games having single player open-world sandbox environments or free to play drop in drop out pay to win infused games dominating the industry. Brothers: A tale of two Sons and A Way Out were two of the studios most monumental titles that launched and disrupted the industry with innovative and fun co-op gameplay. Now Josef and his team are seeking to get that three-peat with their latest title It Takes Two and raise the bar even further than where it was set with their last two games; the game here is can they succeed in doing so or will the game be dead on arrival? Let’s find out!
The story kicks off with the two protagonists May and Cody Goodwin who are arguing about their decision to get divorced, their daughter Rose overhears this argument while in her bedroom. At dinner, May and Cody attempt to explain their reasoning for getting a divorce to Rose who ends up excusing herself and heads to the family tool shack where she uncovers the “Book of Love” written by “worldwide famous expert on love and best seller” Dr. Hakim. She pleads with Dr. Hakim to help her and cries with her tears landing on her handmade dolls of her parents which leads to May and Cody waking up in their new doll like bodies and meeting Dr. Hakim and embark on their journey to get back to their human forms.
The gameplay of It Takes Two is only playable either local split screen co-op or online as the game is not able to be played with a single player similar to how Hazelight’s debut release, A Way Out, where the core gameplay is focused on the cooperative component of having two players working together to solve the various puzzles in the game.
Your controls are simple with you being able to jump, double jump, sprint, dodge roll, butt slam, pick up items, and use specialty level specific items/weapons.
Each level has you roaming about trying to figure out what is the best method to solve the various puzzles in the environments you’re in from the tool shack where you start out to the top of the tree in the back of the house to inside the tree and more. You’ll end up needing to roam around the levels and pick up items such as fuses and more that need to be slotted into various areas to progress further in the level. You’ll get specific items/weapons to use for May and Cody which will require you to work together with the other player such as having to have Cody use nails that he gains in the tool shack and throw them at platforms to make them stay in place for May to be able to jump on them and progress forward while May can also use the hammer to smash the glass bottles and most switch panels enabling Cody to catch up. Later on, you’ll be in the inside of the tree in the backyard with Cody having access to a goop gun that fires flammable goop that you can fire off which can stick to surfaces and slow down the hornets while May is able to fire off sparks which can ignite the goop which when used together you’re able to solve puzzles in this level.
Boss fights are so creatively fun and seriously require you to work and be in sync with your second player as you'll need to be attentive to everything going on in order to defeat them. As an example, the vacuum cleaner boss requires you both to avoid the explosives he rains down on you all the while having one character grab the suction hose and suck up the explosives on the lower level with the other character going to the higher platform and aiming the sucked up explosives at the vacuum boss in order to damage him. Each and every boss fight requires you to work together in some of the most creative and organic ways.
Ultimately, the gist of this game is centered around teamwork with the second player and strong communication as that is the only way you will be able to move forward.
The graphics are the game are very good with solid lip synching and lighting and shading of each character with great attention to detail and nuances. In human and doll form, May and Cody look really good along with Rose looking every bit like an 7–9-year-old kid. The various characters you meet from Dr. Hakim to Hammer and the tools, to the Squirrels in the tree and more have so much life and character to them that they feel fully realized.
The environments are all well done and whimsical which honestly the vibe of the environments and the characters themselves remind me of this being effectively a modern take on Toy Story and you know what, I like that.
The voice direction in this game is absolutely FANTASTIC! Joseph Balderrama did an Oscar worth performance as Cody and Hakim and truly brought those characters to life so well that I often times forgot that they weren’t real life characters. Annabelle Dowler was PHENOMANAL as May and truly made her come to life also with an Oscar worthy performance as she really nailed every line in a very believable and realistic way.
My favorite character is none other than Dr. Hakim whom Joseph also voices as he is just such a fun character with so many lovable and cheesy one-liners that you cant help but find yourself laughing to.
The other characters such as the tools and the squirrel army are just fantastic in how self-realized they are and how seriously the characters are taking themselves without realizing how comedic they are.
Honestly, I can’t find any downsides to this game at all.
I’m going to say it, Josef Fares is an absolute GENUIS and is UNRIVILED when it comes to making some of the most innovative and fun couch co-op/online multiplayer cooperative games in the business. With having made the phenomenal A Way Out that won so many awards, Josef returns with another award-winning game in It Takes Two. With a great and relatable story, good graphics, excellent controls, superb voice acting, and a strong method of incorporating cooperative gameplay that has players communicate to progress; It Takes Two is hands down one of my Game Of The Year contenders and is solidly in my top 10 games of 2021. If you have the opportunity to play this game then by all means go out and play it because you’ll definitely be experiencing one timeless classic right here!