Divorce, a dark, complicated, and touchy subject to bring up to virtually anyone, especially children. It’s a difficult decision for families, and has ripples going well beyond the divorcing couple. Unless you’ve gone through the process yourself, you can never know the true hardships that come with it. With that in mind, Hazelight, developers of the critically acclaimed co-op title A Way Out, are looking to shine a light surrounding this topic through the use of a fantastical co-op story. Does it truly do the subject justice though? Find out in our It Takes Two review below.
A Fantasy Journey Through the Sorrows of Divorce
It Takes Two drops you immediately into the shoes of Cody and May, a couple who, after many an argument, have decided the best call is to go their separate ways. As is classic with many families though, the kids suffer the most. Whether it be blaming themselves or wishing to avoid change, it’s a tough time for the whole family. This includes their daughter Rose who has asked her Book of Love, written by one Dr. Hakim, to make her family whole again. Unknowingly to her though, her wish has come true, turning Cody and May into clay and wooden dolls respectively. Using the power of their love and all the beauties that come with it, it’s up to the argumentative partners to fix their relationship and make their family whole again, with the help of a personified version of said book.
At first glance, you may assume that It Takes Two is a marriage of the imaginative fantasies of children and the maturity of divorce. While for the most part, you’d be right, you may want to hold off letting your kids take a spin at the title. It’s an absolute blast with a co-op partner, but the title often takes lengths that are either a bit out of the realm of understanding for children, or even a little traumatizing. In fact, some of the scenes even left me a bit squeamish, something I can only imagine would be multiplied a hundred times in the mind of a child. This isn’t a bad thing per se as mature games like this can be amazing, but its dark comedy should stay far out of the reach of children.
I can gladly say though that the game handles these themes beautifully to make you feel a whole range of emotions. From the dark moments of Cody and May’s disagreements on who did what, to the hilarity of Cody’s awkward and clumsy nature, every moment is an emotional ride that’ll enthrall you. I even found a little of myself in who Cody is, even if I’m not incredibly comfortable admitting that. Oh, and we can’t forget the book himself, Dr. Hakim. He may not play a central part of the narrative as compared to the couple, but you’ll find yourself both happy for his existence and wishing for his swift entrance into a paper shredder all the same. If there’s one strong spot to be had for the story, the emotional weight is executed in a way I’ve frankly never seen before, and that’s a good thing.
Experiencing the Extreme Fantasy of It Takes Two
Anyone who’s played Hazelight’s A Way Out will feel familiar with the whole “rollercoaster” aspect exemplified by gameplay. While a much different game than that title was, It Takes Two offers equal moments of intensity and calm puzzle solving. This has always been a strong suit for the team, but this latest title brings it to a whole new level. And even with the moments of dullness, it feels rare the game suffers from a level of boredom for either partner. No matter what, you both are always doing something to further your or your partner’s success.
And despite that, you both still feel like unique entities given the toys needed to make a masterpiece of the various puzzles. One simply can’t operate without the other, playing into the marriage theme of It Takes Two. There are a couple of standout moments where this isn’t always the case, but the areas where it blends this beautifully overshadows where it’s done wrong. It’s an incredibly refined experience overall, one that feels built around the co-op aspect rather than co-op feeling like icing on a cake. And for that, it proves to be an incredibly strong contender with other co-op titles out there.
It’s also never afraid to take risks, which is where I feel It Takes Two is at its most memorable. The title isn’t scared to jump out of its comfort zone, imitating other genres in a sincere form of flattery. Unfortunately, I must avoid these scenes for the sake of spoilers, but you can expect a few surprises in store along your adventure. A Way Out was willing to make subtle attempts at this from time to time, but it feels this latest title embraces it, and that works in its favor.
For all that it does right though, I feel as though It Takes Two suffers heavily from its pacing towards the end. It was at around hour seven that I began to notice this, with the game feeling a lot longer than it really should be. There’s a particular moment which I can’t touch on due to spoilers, but it’s clear there that things were extended considerably more than they really needed to be. It makes the last few hours feel like such a slog in comparison with the rest of the experience, wishing at least in some aspect for the adventure to be over. It’s a shame, given the rest of the experience feels so well crafted to offer endless memorability.
It Takes Two’s Extravagant Comforts of Home
While definitely far from the standout of the experience, it’s great to see some stunning set pieces and overall high attention to detail within its art style. There were admittedly a few wow moments I had throughout exploring Cody and May’s property, particularly in later levels. While, as mentioned above, they have their own set of problems, artistically they are without flaw. That’s combined with the fantastical art direction of the entire experience, allowing for the creativity of the game’s artists to truly flourish.
And that’s only combined by some stellar voice work from the actors of Cody and May. As It Takes Two is a co-op game, after all, the dynamic voicing duo shares a lot of true chemistry that blends to make the entire thing believable. The whole range of emotions truly sells the couple’s reality and makes the whole experience feel like a realistic divorce (even as you’re flying through the air at high speeds). That’s combined with a great soundtrack which, while not to the heights of some of my favorites, serves well to set the tones. It’s like a bow on a close to perfect present.
It Takes Two is an adventure that EA and Hazelight have crafted beautifully to give an exciting tale about the woes of divorce. Its rollercoaster in both gameplay and emotions offers an experience truly compelling, and one I feel inclined to come back to once I have a family of my own. While its pacing on the grand scale can feel a bit repetitive towards the end, the title is far from being one I wouldn’t recommend. If you’re a fan of A Way Out or are just looking for a great co-op experience, It Takes Two is amazing for couples and close friends seeking an excellent fantasy adventure.
- Engaging story
- Solid voice acting
- Enjoyable puzzles
- Not afraid to take risks
- Emotional thrill ride
- Decent replayability
- Solid set pieces
- Overstays its welcome towards the end
Shawn is an avid 20-year old writer with a year and a half in the games journalism industry. When not writing, you can often find him falling in love with singleplayer titles or yelling at multiplayer games he enjoys.