It Takes Two Review

It Takes Two was one of the biggest video games of 2021 and even won Game of the Year at the Game Awards. The 2-player action-adventure platformer has received a lot of buzz from critics and fans, which is a surprise for a game that seemingly came out of nowhere. Does this charming cooperative experience deserve the massive amount of praise, or should it be taken down a peg? Let’s venture forth to find out.

The Good

One of the wonders that It Takes Two has to offer is especially creative gameplay. It uses many mechanics seen in other games, like rope swinging, rail grinding, and dodge rolling, and puts completely new spins on them. What’s even more intriguing, though, is that new mechanics are added each chapter of the game. One chapter focuses on solving puzzles with pushing and pulling objects using magnets while another focuses on one player growing and shrinking while the other walks on walls and ceilings. These core mechanics may keep changing throughout the game, but they’re relatively easy to pick up since the same few button inputs are used for them. It’s actually a brilliant way to keep the gameplay feeling fresh throughout the whole playthrough.

These gameplay mechanics are not only unique and fun to use for each individual character, but the developers also combine them to make creative ways for the players to work together. It’s not just two characters with their own abilities working together throughout the game. Players truly need to put their heads (and their ever-changing gameplay mechanics) together to progress on the adventure. This leads to riveting combat, outstanding puzzle-solving, and innovative platforming.

It’s also worth noting that all of the movement and platforming is extremely fluid. The rolling, crouching, air-dashing, and other movement allows the player to easily maneuver throughout each level without any of it feeling awkward. Some games may feel too floaty, too heavy, or have awkward pauses so animations can play out, but not here. For those who grew up playing 3D platformers like Jak & Daxter or Super Mario Sunshine, it’s quite nice to see this in a more recent game. 

Players will also discover competitive minigames throughout It Takes Two for them to unlock and play. This includes anything from races to chess to a shooting range and much more. They’re extremely fun to play, so when you come across one in-game, it’s quite exciting. They put the two players against each other for friendly competition and further add to how much variety is found within the gameplay. Plus, each minigame is replayable at any time, which allows for even more gameplay value. 

Speaking of gameplay value, players can essentially double what they get out of the game just by replaying it with the other character. Both Cody and May get to use such different mechanics throughout that it allows for an entirely different experience depending on who you choose to play as.

The game’s art style is absolutely beautiful and offers up just as much whimsy as a Pixar film, if not more. The environment is a true delight to look at and the character designs are inventive. Common household rooms are transformed into magical worlds and everyday objects are personified into memorable characters. A talking stuffed elephant on top of a pillow fort castle shouldn’t make me want to cry and a book shouldn’t be one of the greatest characters in gaming for the year, but that’s certainly the case with It Takes Two

One of the best parts is that it’s all tied together by its brilliant and heartfelt story. The main characters of May and Cody are extremely relatable. The humor used throughout is hilarious and sometimes even surprisingly dark. It’s funny, emotional, and exciting. Who knew that a video game story primarily about potential divorce could be so captivating?

The Bad

The gimmick of It Takes Two is that it can only ever be played with two players. This is something that definitely works in its favor to create a unique gaming experience. However, where there is no option for one to play on their own at all, some people might not be able to get the best possible gameplay out of it. If someone doesn’t have a friend, family member, or partner to play with, they’re out of luck. The ability to play cooperatively online certainly helps a lot with this, but not for everyone, potentially. 

Since it’s mandatory to play as two players, there will be plenty of people who will be getting their non-gamer friends and loved ones to play with them. This is fine since anyone should be able to play video games. That being said, though, this game isn’t the most beginner-friendly at times. With the main mechanics changing each chapter, it can be difficult for those who aren’t used to adapting to a wide variety of games. Even though the new button inputs are written out when they’re introduced, it’s impossible for newcomers to get the hang of them since they get changed by the time they do. This can lead to a lot of unfortunate frustration. 

The game’s story ends on an extremely touching scene that could bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye. The gameplay aspect of the game, however, ends on a much more abrupt note. There’s no epic final boss despite most chapters concluding with a boss fight. There’s no special or difficult last challenge. The players control their characters as they walk in a straight line. That’s the last task the gameplay asks of the player: walk slowly in a straight line. The moment serves the story quite well, but it’s an anticlimactic way to conclude gameplay.

Conclusion

Grab a buddy and prepare for a truly fun, humorous, heartfelt, and action-packed gaming experience because that’s exactly what It Takes Two offers. It’s a fantastic game with plenty of unique elements. Since the core mechanics are shaken up so much, it feels like it has a little something for every type of gamer. It’s like dozens of games in one, but it all fits together almost perfectly. Everything about this game is extremely creative. It’s a must-play that will hold a special place in the gaming community for a long time.

Rating: 9.5/10

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