It Takes Two is the latest project from the master of co-op games – Josef Fares who brought us the likes of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and the magnificent A Way Out. With a back catalogue like that, my expectations for this platformer which tells the story of two parents working out their differences was pretty high. Not only were those expectations met but they were well and truly smashed in what is my game to beat for the game of the year award as things stand.
Before we properly jump into this review I just want to throw a very tiny spoiler warning out there for some cool gameplay reveals, but fear not as I won’t be talking any story spoilers! Remember as always you can check out the video version of this review in the link below if you prefer..
It Takes Two is bursting with charm. It sets out to tell a story about two divorcing parents who are sucked into a Toy Story inspired world thanks to the tears of their Matt Heafy looking daughter.. it’s not just me is it? That girl looks like she’s off touring with Trivium in her spare time. Moving swiftly on, parents Cody and May are transformed into toy versions of themselves and with the help of the walking talking Book of Love must fix their relationship and learn to work together to get back to their real world bodies.
Without diving into spoilers, the narrative goes pretty much the way you’d expect and fans of Disney Pixar movies will find a lot to love with this true to life heart warming tale while others may find themselves rolling their eyes during one or two cheesy moments. There are however a lot of, shall we say, darker moments in the story that makes this one you may prefer to play with a partner or friend rather than your kids. Not that the story isn’t suitable for children because it is, but both Javier and myself as well as Luke and myself found these darker moments absolutely hilarious and I’m not sure some of these more mature themes will play as well with younger players. Either way the story, dialogue and character interactions between Cody, May, The Book of Love and every wonderfully crazy side character you meet along the way will keep you grinning like a fool from beginning to end. What makes this journey even more special is that the gameplay may actually surpass the story..
On the surface It Takes Two is a co-op platformer. However that would be a massive oversimplification as the game is a melting pot of not just platforming at its absolute best but also a fun mix of multiple video game genres that will leave you and your chosen playmate grinning from ear to ear. Early in the game you and your buddy will find yourselves playing a really fun hammer and nail game where one player uses the nails to set up makeshift monkey bars for the other player to use their claw hammer to swing around the level. You’d think this clever mechanic would be enough to build a whole game around, instead it’s simply there for that specific shed themed chapter before being ditched for the next massively fun style of gameplay minutes later. This happened time and time again and not only kept gameplay fresh but also made me excited for every new chapter as I’d never know what type of game I’d be playing next. One minute we’d be navigating a toy pirate ship and the next we’d be playing an isometric dungeon crawler, it was insane how many shifts in gameplay there was. I could go on and on with all these examples but I’ll leave the joy of discovery for yourselves.
The locations in which these different gameplay parts take place in are nothing short of stunning as well. I played the majority of It Takes Two on PS5 but the little I played on PS4 looked nearly just as good so whichever version you’re playing you’ll be in for a visual treat. Every chapter is filled to the brim with fun and creativity and although the story can be finished in around 10 hours, you’ll likely see that time stretched out to around 15 hours due to the amount of time you’ll end up putting into messing around with your buddy and playing one of the many mini games against one and other. There are so many activities that feel like their own little game and half of them aren’t even needed to finish the story, they’re just there because they’re fun. Josef Fares went on record as saying he didn’t want pointless collectables and instead wanted to fill this world with fun things to do with your friend and Josef and his team at Hazelight have really over delivered on that promise.
Each of these amazing locations have a hilarious theme, whether it’s an acid trip like journey through a toy kaleidoscope or being stuck inside a tree in the garden where you’re caught up in a full blown war between the squirrels and the wasps. Each of these levels play into the characters real world lives as well. For example, the squirrel and wasp war I just mentioned is due to a wasps nest that Cody never got around to removing in his real life. Boss fights in the shed with angry tool boxes and giant Hoovers are due to Cody and May’s neglect of those items over the years and a journey through a magical castle is a direct reflection of the toy castle they built for their daughter in the real world. It’s all mental but bloody brilliant at the same time and I’m already excited to jump back in again as soon as I can drag another friend along for the ride.
Thankfully its really easy to convince friends to come and play because just like A Way Out, this game comes with the option of a buddy pass so only one of you or your chosen player needs to buy the game which is really handy given the game can’t be played in single player. In my experience the game worked flawlessly both online and using couch co-op and the buddy pass was really easy to set up as well so there’s no excuse not to get on this incredible title asap.
I opened this review by stating It Takes Two is an early contender for game of the year and that really holds true for me. Whether it’s the outstanding platforming that is worthy of any Mario or Crash Bandicoot game, the amazing mishmash and nods to other popular gaming genres or the Pixar inspired charming story, It Takes Two is something really special that you should be playing with a friend right now, trust me you won’t regret it. I give It Takes Two a whopping..