If you’ve been keeping up with the latest video games, you might already be acquainted with It Takes Two — this multiplayer game was released in March 2021 and can only be played in cooperation (co-op) mode! With its special premise, It Takes Two snagged Best Multiplayer Game, Best Family Game, AND Game of the Year in the Game Awards 2021. So, what is going on with the video game that’s won the hearts of people of all ages and different interests?
In the game, the players play as Cody and May. They’re a married couple who are undergoing relationship problems and finally decide to get a divorce. Their young daughter, Rose, is distraught when she overhears her parents fighting and wishes they loved each other again. Her wish is granted by mysterious forces and her parents are turned into small, doll versions of themselves while a self-help romance book named Dr. Hakim teaches them about COL-LA-BO-RA-TION. Their family home becomes a fantastical obstacle course as they are forced to work together to find Rose and undo the spell.
On their journey, they are confronted by the successes and failures of their relationship as well as the causes of their falling out of love with each other. While the game starts off with a normal premise, it’s not afraid to get a little weird and whimsical at times. From fighting the decrepit vacuum cleaner and murderous toolbox to beating up Rose’s childhood toys, the players immerse themselves in the roles of their characters by surrounding themselves in their world from a miniature perspective.
Action-adventure, co-op, platformer? What?
The game is played mostly like a 3D platformer: players jump, dash, bounce, and run from one obstacle to the next, but the platforming is often interrupted by minigames, shooting levels, boss fights, and a whole range of different play styles. One particular moment that stood out to me was when one player had to fly an airplane through the leaves and branches of a tree while the other had to perform Street Fighter-esque combos against an attacking squirrel. The game is surprising and refreshing at every twist and turn, leading to an entertaining experience where you’re never quite sure what you’ll be doing next.
Players get a taste of action and adventure by introducing a seemingly mundane environment and turning it into a landscape filled with secrets unknown to the characters until they become their miniature selves — there is a settlement of squirrels in the large tree outside their home who are having a turf war with the nearby wasp nest, and players find many unique landscapes built in Rose’s bedroom. And of course, the most essential (and probably the best) part of the game is its co-op play style.
What makes It Takes Two worthy of Game of the Year?
Co-op games have existed for years and aren’t necessarily revolutionary — but what makes It Takes Two a special co-op game is that it’s designed to make players approach problem-solving whilst considering the strengths and weaknesses of the characters themselves. Players go through several levels each with unique checkpoints and new abilities to try out. Instead of giving players the exact same powers, each character gets a unique skill set.
Controls for these individual abilities were more or less the same between characters so a player can easily switch to a different character without relearning the mechanisms. And this seemed like another stellar metaphor for making relationships work — each character is a whole person with lots of capabilities but must collaborate with the other and combine their strengths and cover their weaknesses if they want to make progress in their relationship.
Ultimately, you have to work together to finish the game but it doesn’t stop you from experiencing the game at your own pace — you travel across certain parts of the platformer alone, like using fidget spinners as hoverboards or hopping on the back of a frog to bounce across a pond. There’s still a sense of freedom in how you play the game, even if you have to work with the other person to through the level.
Personal rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I’m playing It Takes Two with my partner, and if you’re like me, your game logic and hand-eye coordination are significantly crummier than your partner’s. To me, it didn’t come as a surprise that he got the hang of controls quickly (the dash and the double jump will forever haunt my existence), executed more difficult timings and combinations, and came up with better strategies. But I did notice that even though he could think of all these things to try, he couldn’t do them without me.
I really felt like we could not progress through the game without being on the same page and communicating our plans, and at the end of the day, we could celebrate our wins together and rethink our approaches whenever we lost. For a video game tackling relationships, it provides narrative satisfaction through Cody and May’s progress in their journey and in their relationship but also in how it approaches gameplay with your co-player.
I’m still playing It Takes Two but I feel like I’ve learned a little more about working through relationship obstacles, openly communicating, and combining the best of both worlds.
Feature Image: It Takes Two Press/IGDB
Edited by: Hana Maurer