Around three years ago, I had my first experience with Hazelight Studios with their entry game in the industry named “A Way Out.” Now with this game in mind, I hadn’t heard much from this studio. Actually, that game to me was really timeless because I always felt like I could play through it again with another one of my buddies, but this isn’t a review of that game, this is a review of “It Takes Two”, another entry by Hazelight Studios.
Whenever I first saw this game announced during the Game Awards, I was excited more so than I had ever been about any other game at the time. There’s always something extremely charming with the games that Hazelight Studios has made, whether it’d be the fact that you have to use Split-Screen regardless if you’re far away or close.
It just always makes it feel like a game that can somehow make you feel closer to your friend or S/O more so than any other game mechanic, and that’s currently Hazelight Studio’s staple. .
Though, I will say that I was afraid of pre-ordering this game or getting too excited about it. In truth, I was afraid of this game due to how I’ve seen some games from different developers get stuck through the same story beats of the games that came before them.
However, I shouldn’t have been afraid especially from the director, Josef Fares the guy who said, “F*ck The Oscars” at the Game Awards, since he seems to be so passionate about making a game so worthwhile to play.
The trailer released in January is what sold me that game, and with all the promotion that the director himself was passionate and confident that he played through the entire first level with so many content creators.
Eventually, I heard rumors about this game and how you’d end up playing through it so I kept on scanning through the It Takes Two’s Webpage and Trailers to make sure this rumor wasn’t true. Apparently, they had intended for you to play through Steam’s Remote Play with your friend if you had bought it through that platform.
I don’t know if you have ever experienced it, but it’s barely smooth whenever you play Puyo Puyo Tetris on it which is saying something. Whenever I tried it out through Remote Play, it was a playable experience but it looked terrible.
Luckily though, you will have the ability to play through Friend’s Pass if you purchase it on steam.
What is Friend’s Pass? Well, the best way to explain is by telling you that you don’t need to buy this game another time if you or your friend owns it. Friend’s Pass is essentially the entire game which you install and then your friend invite you to have a more stable experience than having to use Remote Play through Steam.
And this is also available on Origin’s Launcher, and through all console platforms which allows Cross-gen to play through together.
I finished the game on the day of launch with my best friend on stream, and I have a lot to say about it.
Though, a description of the game is in order! There’s two main characters, Cody and May, who are having problems with their marriage so they’re going to get a divorce after what the game alludes to many arguments about the things that you’ll be able to directly interact within the later chapters of the game.
Their child in between has to deal with it by being told directly by their parents, she has made dolls of her parents that are diverse in terms of material and design.
With the doll representing her father, Cody, being made out of Clay, and the other representing her mother, May, being made out of wood. Her daughter is just so tired of hearing her parents argue that she decides to cry and essentially give her faith to a book that’d help her parents’ marriage.
It is because of this book, written by Dr. Hakim, that they become those dolls throughout the entirety of the game whenever the player assumes control of them. Naturally, the game teaches our couple about trust and marriage through quips and fantastic mini-games with many abilities essentially fitting the characters.
GAMEPLAY AND EXPLORATION
With playing many games over the years, I’ve actually never played anything like this. Multiplayer games have always been around to bring your friends closer to you like the original Resistance from Insomniac, Battleblock Theater from The Behemoth, or any multiplayer game ever. Its not even like any single player game that I’ve ever played except maybe like The Wonderful 101 by Platinum Games with how they use abilities given to you.
This game by far has the most game mechanics that I have ever seen in a singular game, and everything that they use is never underused or wasn’t used to their full capabilities. There’s always a consistent moveset for the characters that essentially set the tone of they’ll be able to accomplish through moving. Their double jumps, ground pounds, being able to lasso stuff, grinding on rails, and the inability to get killed are all explained through their new forms.
In every level, there’s a new diverse environment whether it’d be the inside of a shed with nails and a hammer, or going all the way to heaven with wings and the flying cat pigs there (If you’re wondering, yes you can pet them). I will say that the game is cut into halves from the first portion being found in the real world, and the second half being found in fantastical locations.
I often found myself lost in the levels looking for new things to do and interact with items like the snowballs you can hit each other with, the hats you can find and wear, and how you’ll be searching for new activities to do with your friend.
Though in every level, there’s a new mechanic whether it’d be stopping time while the other can clone themselves, being able to turn yourself into a plant while the other has a sickle and pressure washer, having RPG abilities, or just having a fidget spinner to hover off of the ground like a helicopter.
I guess the best way to describe it is that It feels like one of those preview demo discs that were filled with a variety of game demos back in the 2000s. It had a lot of experiences, and unlike those demos, we were actually fulfilled in the one to two hours that we were given with those abilities and places.
This game does everything so right and makes up for everything that I didn’t know that I wanted from a video game at all. By far beating A Way Out’s serious tone and exploration even if It Takes Two lacked the different choice outcomes that A Way Out provided.
This where I lost most of my time. In the mini-games that you might want to compete in with your best friend like I did. These games being Whack A Mole, Chess, Tanks, Snail Race, and the list goes on to boast an impressive 25 mini-games. I still remember the 30 minutes that we spent in chess against each other and still losing due to my inability to concentrate or how we lagged out when we tried out Snail Race.
Throughout the whole experience, I will say that I experienced two things that might impact your gameplay. If you’re hosting the game, you will feel no issue in terms of whenever you’re supposed to click your buttons, however if you’re the other player you may experience lag on your clicks especially on your left click. There was also the fact that I was disconnected once throughout the 10 hours that I spent playing.
Also, DO NOT BUY THIS GAME IF YOU DON’T HAVE A FRIEND, S/O, or FAMILY MEMBER TO PLAY WITH BECAUSE YOU CANNOT PLAY IT ON YOUR OWN. The Split Screen may also be a bit distracting for the players but you’ll quickly get used to it once you find your defined character.
I would personally believe that this game deserves the score of a 10 out of 10. The colorful environments, the way they managed to balance everything and polish to a shine, it had a corny story that just made it perfect for the characters to live and deal with the circumstances they’re given, and no matter where we were.
It never felt like it dragged on too long, it never felt like I was lost, it was truly one of the smoothest experiences that I had ever tried and it will forever stay in my heart as a game that I will invite everyone to play. For 10 hours, it was short and sweet for everything it had managed to do. I just hope that the developers don’t run out of ideas after this. Thank you, Hazelight Studios.