Hitbox Review: It Takes Two - cooperative excellence

Developer: Hazelight Studios

Release Date:
Mar. 26, 2021

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Playstation 5 [Played], Xbox One, Xbox Series X & S, PC

“It Takes Two” is one of the best co-op games I’ve ever played. The game features beautiful visuals, inventive environments and gameplay that changes radically section by section. All of this is wrapped in a story that became surprisingly touching by the end, making for an excellent complete package. 

“It Takes Two” really does take two, only playable with two players, locally or online. A Friend’s Pass allows two players to play online without requiring the purchase of two copies of the game. No random matchmaking is available, however, so players without access to a partner will find the game wholly inaccessible. 

Relationship is the core theme of the game, starring May and Cody, a married couple who have decided to divorce. Their daughter Rose wishes upon the Book of Love for her parents to become friends again, and Cody and May find themselves transformed into dolls. Guided by Dr. Hakim, the Book of Love personified, Cody and May have to navigate through their home and the surrounding area, while working to improve their relationship.

Cody and May travel through several locations throughout their adventure, and each is stylized and unique. Rose’s bedroom is a standout, as the child’s toys make for the most varied locations, like space, a circus and a magical castle. Every chapter feels unique, and each further explores the relationship of the two leads. 

The story mostly takes a backseat for the first half of the game, while Cody and May are simply trying to figure out what happened to turn them into dolls. When Cody and May actually begin discussing their failed marriage, and receiving silly but important therapy sessions from Dr. Hakim, the writing really shines through, and the game ends on a high note. 

“It Takes Two” is colorful and inventive, with an art style that draws flattering comparisons to Pixar films, but the game isn’t necessarily suited for children. While much of the game is filled with animated hijinks and innovative concepts, the story does get shockingly dark in one sequence, and there are a couple of instances of strong language. 

Josef Fares, founder of Hazelight Studios and director of “It Takes Two”, promised throughout the game’s promotion that he will give $1000 to anyone who gets “tired” of the game, who can honestly say the game doesn’t surprise them. It’s easy to see why he was so confident in this claim, “It Takes Two’s” gameplay is constantly changing, new concepts being introduced and thrown away with reckless abandon. Each section of the game usually comes with new tools for Cody and May, for example in the shed May wields a hammer, while Cody is equipped with nails. This variance between characters also adds replay value, as both playable characters have unique gameplay.

Impressively, not one of the gameplay mechanics introduced feels lesser than any of the others, each feels wholly fleshed out and unique. Most of the game sticks to a baseline of the 3D platforming genre, but some sections eschew it, taking instead to a 2D fighting game like “Mortal Kombat” or an isometric dungeon crawler like “Diablo.” The game is fairly long, at around 12 hours to complete, but absolutely stays fresh by constantly adding and removing mechanics and concepts. 

There are also side minigames that can be found in each level, that pit both players against each other in several competitive games. These include cart racers, third-person shooters and chess.

“It Takes Two” is a masterpiece. The game is constantly throwing new and interesting ideas at the players, without ever missing a shot. The story of Cody and May takes a while to find its stride, but really uses the game’s runtime to tell a nuanced story about married life.