It took us a couple of months, but we finished Hazelight Studio’s It Takes Two. I didn’t intend on trying it any time soon, but after hearing so much positive buzz surrounding it, I suggested it to my fiancée after the game appeared on Xbox Game Pass and we took to it quite quickly. Momentum waned a bit as the story and character motivations were watered down to pad out video game ideas, but we kept coming back to it and eventually finished it.
I didn’t play A Way Out, but I played Josef Fares’ directorial debut, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. His first game felt cohesive and concise. It Takes Two was incredibly well polished, filled to the brim with lavish content, and neat gameplay ideas, but the story felt thin and couldn’t reasonably justify the length of the game. I felt they didn’t need to invoke the rule of three in order maintain a better pace.
There were a lot of fun and interesting co-operative gameplay ideas that kept me motivated; every new area and level was like a small jolt of “wow”. We both knew the story was going to wrap up in the proverbial tidy bow, but I was legitimately impressed with how much new stuff we kept seeing. The pervading thought mind through all of this was: “This is what Electronic Arts money gets you. And they’re going ham with it!” It’s a bit of a weird comparison, but I had the same feeling with Max Payne 3. It’s impressive how much high quality work was used or experienced just once and never seen again.
Friendly checkpointing, generous aim assist, and well designed challenges kept engagement high and frustrations low. That may seem like a throwaway compliment, but not even the great Nintendo can execute on the high bar that Hazelight Studio set with this game. I was consistently impressed with how they created common ground for two video game players on the opposite sides of controller proficiency.
The story was very predictable and while there were some cruel moments involving a stuff elephant, nothing surprised us on that front. It served as simple fodder or kittling for discussions for us. We either both agreed on the outcomes that transpired or who was “in the wrong”. We didn’t break out into any multi-hour discussions, but I think we still appreciated those discussion prompts.
It Takes Two was a triumph in co-operative games for the simple reason that it was something that my partner and I could sit down and play together without having it be entirely a shooter of some kind. Co-operative puzzle platforming was interesting for the both us and we were able to contribute in our own way; it wasn’t just video game skill leading the way. It could have used a bit more editing and it wouldn’t have hurt to see the story visit new territory, but in the end it was a fun time and I still highly recommend it.
I liked it!