Like its predecessor, It Takes Two is only playable in local or online co-op. In keeping with this theme of working together, associate editor Stephen Tailby enlisted the help of his girlfriend, Rachel, for this review. You'll hear from both of them below as they go over their thoughts on this shared experience, laid out in a back-and-forth style. Enjoy.
Stephen: Alright, well, we should begin at the beginning. It Takes Two is a co-op action adventure from Josef Fares and his team at Hazelight. Like the studio's previous game, A Way Out, the action largely splits the screen in two and requires both players to work together to navigate the world, beat baddies, and solve puzzles. However, the team has really upped the ante this time.
The game's all about Cody and May, a couple just about to get divorced. We also meet Rose, their daughter, in the opening sequence. What did you make of the introduction?
Rachel: I think the set up of the situation was quite clear, but honestly Rose freaked me out quite a bit. Something about her was a bit lifeless, but you do get the idea of what's going on.
Stephen: Yeah, I think we agree that her performance is quite robotic. If we could throw one real criticism at the game, it'd be a mix of some stilted acting and odd writing.
Anyway, after wishing for her parents to become friends again, they transform into two hand-made dolls, and so begins their quest. Guided by a flamboyant book, the pair are forced to cooperate in order to return to normal. Once the game puts you in control, things start to improve, don't they?
Rachel: For sure, you start off in a shed and end up arguing and fighting a vacuum cleaner that May had forgotten to fix. You then get given tools and you learn how to start working together on some parts. Very satisfying. I'm finding it hard not to give too much stuff away, being my first review, but I promise I won't give you any more specifics.
Stephen: Don't worry, they can handle it. If not, I'll take the fall.
Rachel: What a gent.
Stephen: But yes, the game's greatest strength has got to be its sheer variety. As you said, players start off in the shed, but throughout the 12-14 hour runtime, you'll visit a large number of new environments, each one completely different from the last. I don't want to spoil anything in particular, but I think it's fair to say that players won't be able to guess where things go. Some of the levels are quite linear but others are vast, with lots to discover.
Rachel: I love exploring the big levels with you, there's lots of really cute mini games to find (which I won many of... at least 10 per cent of the time), and interactive bits that you can just hang out at and have fun.
Stephen: Yeah, lots of mini games off the beaten path (some of which are quite involved) as well as some fun distractions and Easter eggs to keep you amused.
I think what's maybe more impressive than the variety in levels is the variety in gameplay. The controls are kept very simple throughout, but on a regular basis, the game is giving you new abilities or gadgets, some of which are only there for a few minutes. You're able to run, jump, dash, and swing from ropes, but "disposable" mechanics like flight or using magnets come and go all the time. All of these varied gameplay changes feel great too, and sometimes even the presentation changes to match what's happening. The game literally changes genre several times. It's all very dynamic, but controls remain consistent, which is great.
Rachel: I have something to say about the controls. I'm usually the one who needs someone to take over as I just can't make a jump or aim and shoot at the same time, but I actually only needed help once (thanks Steve). And that was near the beginning. Come the end, I was swinging and jumping and aiming all at the same time, which is some kind of miracle. I think it's very cool that they made the controls simple enough for me to use. I even know what R3 is now.
Stephen: It probably goes without saying, but to progress you need to work together, and there are some ingenious puzzles, boss fights, and platforming sequences that lean into this. It's a fantastic co-op experience, and the variety we've spoken about just means you'll probably never grow tired of playing. It's a refreshingly imaginative game that throws new ideas at you constantly.
When it comes to story, this is where some small cracks start to form. The problem with a game starring an estranged couple is that they hate each other. For the first half of the game, they snipe and they pick at one another — as is to be expected I guess — but it doesn't make for a particularly enjoyable atmosphere.
Rachel: Yeah, I don't actually think couples should play this together. Although the actual playing of the game is fun, whenever they argued it made me feel irritated, and if a couple are on the rocks, I just don't think this would be a game that would bring out your best sides. I mean, we made it through okay but do you think other couples need to be aware of this?
Stephen: Well, I do think that's an interesting point! Certainly the first half, the hostility between the pair can be off-putting. It's good you bring this up, because I don't want Push Square to be held accountable for any real-world fallouts.
Rachel: Fair. I also think May sniped more than Cody did, and she did sometimes bring a downer to a really lovely place. But it does make me think, maybe that's what the game does show; if you're not getting on with the person you're hanging out with, it can taint a place, no matter how nice it is. I don't want to give anything away, but at some points I did just think that they really should just part ways and be done with it.
Stephen: What's odd about the narrative, though, is that the latter half sees quite a sudden change in their attitude. I was expecting a gentler, more gradual growth, but it feels like things accelerate rather quickly. There are some bizarre turns in the adventure too — some are delightful, but one in particular is downright disturbing.
Rachel: I know the bit you mean. Just hope I don't have nightmares.
Stephen: What I will say is that, nightmarish scenes or not, the game looks lovely. Some details don't fare well on close inspection, but the overall visuals are wonderfully vibrant, and there's some excellent texture work going on too. Plus, it all runs at a very solid 60 frames-per-second; I only noticed one moment where it dips.
To be honest, this is a difficult game to review, because so much of the joy it provides is best experienced fresh. It's bursting with colour and invention, and the varied pace, gameplay, and levels mean Josef can keep his thousand dollars.
Rachel: Agreed. I couldn't get bored playing this game, and I did really enjoy it. The imagination behind it is incredible, and I have never seen such gorgeous cushions. I want some so badly.
It Takes Two is an excellent co-op adventure. While it stumbles on certain narrative aspects and not all the performances are winners, it more than makes up for that with its brilliantly fun and ever-changing gameplay. Forcing two players to work in tandem in countless ways, the game embraces co-op play wholeheartedly, and the variety of gameplay and environments makes it a joy to play from start to finish.
Any questions, let me know!
Excellent review! want to try to play this with the wife but I do wonder how off-putting can the fact of this is a couple that hate each other be?
Not worried about a fall-out but does it distract you from the game or makes you emphatize less with the characters?
Co-op review for a co-op game. Perfection.
I'll have to get my hands on this game in the future. Looks like a fun game.
@Gilvin Rachel was half-joking about it not being suitable for couples haha. We both found their initial bickering and such to be a bit of a bummer, but honestly I wouldn't let it worry you. Overall the game is super fun.
Love the approach you (both) took with this review. Very unique! Really pleased to hear about the controls being accessible. My wife basically begins and ends at lego games, and i'd love to try branching out to something new.
I think I finally found someone to play this with, so I'm really excited to play it.
Awesome review! Can’t wait to give this a go!
@80sGamer Dude, you're missing out on so many great games like this....They said, it dipped noticeably only once.
But, who am I to judge you, at the end of the day the most important thing is to have fun.
So do what you enjoy!
Brilliant review! It really does look quite fun and I love that you both reviewed it together, very fitting for a game like this.
so glad this is getting a positive response! I have been waiting on this one for a while and am soooo excited to start playing
Love this review
@80sGamer hahaha really? that is so crazy to just not play any games with a minor issue especially since it isn't going for an insanely immersive experience like a naughty dog game or something
Great review Quintumps 👍....Not my cup of tea but sounds like you had fun and that's the important thing.
You have a girlfriend!!???!
@Quintumply thanks for the feedback. I guess once we're done with Sackboy this one will be next on the list
Really want to play this after your review and I'm sure me and the wife can work constructively on this just like we do on other coop games 😆
Definitely getting this one, looks great. 90 metacritic too (on PS5), pretty amazing
@80sGamer you probably won't be playing many games going forward with that mindset.
Call me a low-level sadist/grinch, but I can't help loving the idea of loads of happy couples playing this together to bond, only for it to end up in arguments and break-ups 😂😉
Great review, though. Enjoyed the format. I played. A Way Out with a non-gamer friend across the pond and we had a blast, so I'm sure this'll be great for what I'll coin a phrase and call "asymmetric gamer couples" 😎
directly from the review: "I only noticed one moment where it dips"
I mean, no one's going to force you to play it, but your reasoning does sound a bit silly..
@Quintumply Great review, tempted to purchase now. Does the co-op work between a PS5 & PS4, or do you need to be playing on same model of console?
I looked it up instead of being lazy -
"Friend’s Pass offers cross-gen but not cross-platform play. For example, Player 1 can be playing on PlayStation 5 and invite Player 2 on Playstation 4. But Player 1 playing on Playstation 5 cannot invite Player 2 on Xbox Series X or PC. The save system also works cross-gen."
@Quintumply Nice review i guess this is local coop only?
@Flaming_Kaiser Online co-op too!
Wonderful review, Stephen! Great to get your critique in such a unique way — this was a breath of fresh air to read!
@Quintumply I was kind of let down by A Way Out. The plot was really weak and the game felt slower and incconsequential than nessecary (padding!).
Would you say that these issues are less of a problem in It Takes Two?
Planning to give it a go with my non-gamer girlfriend so this review was perfect for me, thanks Stephen & Rachel!
@Quintumply Then im going in thats awsome. Its ***** when you dont know people who want to play games.
@Quintumply Does the game feature any kind of difficulty adjustment? Or maybe an adjustment per player? If not, does it have some dynamic difficulty to make it easier after a player fails a few times? Or allow the player to skip the section that is too hard for them?
Wario's Woods, Dr. Mario, and Tetris are literally the only games my partner will touch. She will CRUSH you in Wario's Woods.
@Kidfried Unfortunately I think the narrative is where the game falls down a bit. But I would say that this has a brisker pace in general than A Way Out. It is surprisingly long, but I never felt like it was padded out because it's constantly changing.
@This_Guy No, there aren't any difficulty settings. We didn't encounter any dynamic difficulty stuff either.
I didn't have time (YET) to read the review. But I want this question answered if you can (sorry if it's on the review): do you think I will enjoy this the same way playing online as playing it locally? Cause I have no friends to play this with lol
@80sGamer dude, I scanned all of your comments after reading this one. Do you like anything at all and I literally mean ANYTHING?! 🤣
Good review and I might actually pick this up, since myself and partner have just finished Sackboy and she really enjoyed it. Wondering what visual differences between PS4 and PS5. Does PS5 version have haptic feedback and triggers?
@Digit2021 We only played the PS5 version, and no, it doesn't make use of adaptive triggers or haptics. Just regular rumble as far as I could tell.
@Quintumply I'd like to hear more about how difficult the game is. My girlfriend and I are very excited about this game, this and other reviews being so positive have almost sealed the deal.
But my girlfriend is not a gamer: she enjoys some casual platforming (eg we played Astrobot together, play Fall Guys every once in a while), but anything more tough than that can be frustrating (eg twin stick games, she doesn't have the patience to learn the skill...)
@stassinari One thing that's really cool about the game is that the controls are very accessible. There aren't too many buttons used, and even when you get new abilities, the controls stay consistent. For a skilled player, the difficulty is pretty low, I'd say.
For less experienced players, it's worth repeating what Rachel says in the review; despite struggling with action games in the past, she was able to play It Takes Two just fine. I don't want to speak for her, but what I will add is that button prompts appear throughout so you know what to hit, respawns are instant, and checkpointing is pretty generous.
This game is probably a touch more advanced than something like Astro, and there are some bosses and fast paced sequences that might take a few attempts. That being said, I think you should give it a try, it's a wonderful game.
I hope that's helped in some way; difficulty is so individual!
EDIT: I'd recommend looking up some gameplay clips, that might give you a better idea.
@Quintumply that sounds good, I was worried about the same thing
@Quintumply thank you for the reply! I can't wait to play this game now!
@stassinari I hope you and your girlfriend have a good time with it!
I done goofed. I thought the game had some kind of online matchmaking system lol now I'm stuck with a 40 euro game I can't play
@Quintumply - that was very helpful to me. I presume you both need to be up to speed? ie one player can't carry the other through the faster paced bits? If one screws up, you both restart?
I loved a way out so much, but we almost rage quit during the racing sequence at the end - it was really painful!
@mrgrieves If you struggled with some of the fast-paced parts of A Way Out, there is more of that in It Takes Two, but these sequences usually don't last very long.
As to your first question, yes, you can't really carry each other — you need each other to get through the game, as quite often you'll both have different abilities that complement each other.
If you loved A Way Out, I'm sure you'll also like this one! Much more lighthearted but there are some chase sequences etc.
@Quintumply so me and my old lady are enjoying this game so far (she's not a gamer persay but she's really good at Fortnite).. we have an issue where I play on the left and she plays on the right during split screen games.. is there any way to reverse the split screen or does May always have to be on the left? Obviously, I want to play as Cody (on the left side) she wants to be May (on the right).. kind of an issue there.. you know how to fix it? Either way I completely agree with the 8/10.. your review made be buy the game.. help would be very welcome though thanks!
@WolfyTn I've just checked and I don't see any way to swap sides. Unless I'm missing something, it seems that May is always on the left, and Cody on the right. Something you'll have to adjust to, I think! Glad you're enjoying the game at least
Yeah we had to adjust I think we're use to it by now.. still caught up in it.. thanks for the reply!
There are some difficult spots. My partner struggled on one boss fight because her character was responsible for more precise shooting. She got so frustated, so we just swapped controllers so I played the female character for that area since she had the harder role. Got through that spot this way, then continued on.
@Quintumply Just grabbed it, and for no cost to me. Picked it up to play after the new Lego Star Wars . How would you rate this as a Co-Op game?
@nyXhc420 One of the best! I do think it has its flaws — I'm still not won over by the story really — but it's excellent fun from start to finish. So much variety, the gameplay throughout is consistently good, and it uses co-op in some brilliant ways. Very good.
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