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The Pandemic Lockdown brought a lot of people closer, a little too close perhaps… for extended periods of time. No barriers unbroken, no personal space too small, and a lot of relationships straining as people spent more times within the confines of each other. If only we could redeem ourselves before things take a hairy turn, if only someone or something could guide us in forging a path together…

But it does now!

In the words of Dr. Hakim, It Takes Two is all about turning your ‘relation-shit’ into ‘relationship’…. aaaaand you do this by embarking on an epic adventure that will take you through the most unexpected corners of your house. Are you ready for a rollercoaster ride beyond your wildest dreams?

You cannot do this alone

Because the game is all about collaboration. The plot follows the adventures of two parents – May and Cody – on the verge of divorce but now trapped inside the bodies of two miniature dolls made by their daughter. Their mission: get back to their own bodies, or so they thought, until this incessantly blabbering (and in a good way) ‘Book of Love’ called Dr. Hakim makes a grand entrance with the sole goal of “rekindling their love”. And by god, he uses anything and everything at his dispense to turn our journey into a perilous one! We go from surfing through the pipes of our neglected vacuum cleaner to fighting killer wasps using explosive nectar, to riding a ghostly catfish inside a goddamn tree straight out of Avatar, and finally making a grand escape from Cuban military squirrels via a makeshift glider made out of Cody’s underwear. And that’s just 3 hours into the game!

Videogames: The Game?

It Takes Two is so much full of… everything that its hard to classify it into one particular genre. The overarching mechanics might be platforming but it feels like you’re switching from Celeste to Prince of Persia to Super Meat Boy and what not. I mean, when was the last time you rode a fidget spinner or platformed inside a shapeshifting Kaleidoscope or blew a tactical nuke inside a Cuckoo clock while rewinding time? When was the last time you felt as if you’re playing an entire montage of almost all of the last decade’s videogame mechanics in just one game?

When May and Cody were initially given a hammer and nail, I was like ‘okay, these are our weapons then’. But when we reached the next level we got ropes! Pretty soon Miles Morales seemed like a distant memory as we swung from branch to branch inside a wasp infested tree. 4+ hours in and we were in outer space where Cody can change his body size and May’s got magnetic boots to climb walls. The levels go twisty-turvy as both doll-parents work in tandem to create pathways for each other to get across. Communication is the key without which you both might not be as effective as the game’s intention is.

And this seamless collaboration flows into the enemies and boss fights as well. The bosses, though quite easy, are designed well enough to be defeated only by working together. For example, one of us sucks the bombs in and the other person aims the sucker tube at the ‘evil’ vacuum cleaner, Cody launches saps at the giant robot wasp and May can explode it. And this goes on to the point like Cody will be turning into a plant and holding down airborne targets with a vine grown out of his head, while May will be in full DmC: Devil May Cry mode and slicing enemies midair with a scythe!

It feels as if Hazelight Studios brought in different devs from different studios to design each chapter because each one is so uniquely designed! What’s interesting is, you’re given only everyday objects to play, like two halves of a magnet for each one, or Cody gaining a cymbal which he can throw like Captain America to hit buttons, and May gaining a voice that’s basically sonic boom. In an era where gameplay mechanics are milked for easy moolah, It Takes Two just slingshots from one bonkers style to the next without nigh zero recyclability. In just 7 hours I went from God of War to Sunset Overdrive, to Assassin’s Creed Rogue and to Diablo 3 (complete with rush and area denial attacks!)

Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and are now trippin’!

Perhaps Josef Faris (creative director of It Takes Two) ordered a crate of weed, took a whiteboard, and was like “… then Cody turns into a cactus-turret, and May waters the plants to grow leaves for platforming…”. Since we are pint-sized, the world around us is bigger and augmented with all sorts of mechanics straight out of a fever dream. The last time I remembered something like this was in Metamorphosis (you can find my review here), but It Takes Two just takes miniature exploration to a whole new dimension! Everyday objects like a Cuckoo clock or a snow globe house entire cities inhabited by inanimate objects, now animated for the sake of the game. And these worlds are rife with a number of side-activities and minigames that you can enjoy with your partner. Honestly, the most competitive I felt were the mini-games, the wining prize of which was…. pure fun! You can’t put a price on the joy you feel after beating your partner in a snowball battle or Pocket Circuit or ice-skate racing.

Graphics, Sound and Performance

Despite overall low polygons and a bit blurry textures, there exists areas where the game goes pure orgasmic. Surreal, otherworldly imageries gave major Journey to the Center of the Earth, Avatar and Doctor Strange vibes, along with LSD-induced trips inside a kaleidoscope and an optic fiber cable. The character designs are on point too – the dolls seemed more human than their actual bone and flesh counterpart. Such fever dreamish visuals coupled with an assortment of music that aptly suits the levels you play through especially the ending, It Takes Two will legit bring tears to your eyes if you’re playing with your loved ones.

As for the performance, It Takes Two is quite demanding on the GPU because so many things happen onscreen. Not to mention the crashes I… we experienced (which we later realized was due to the game running on my intel card rather than Nvidia). And there are parts where the fps just dips because of particle effects. But for most parts, the game was smooth.

Real Talk

It’s been a while when a game had me as hooked till the end as It Take Two. I would go as far as saying this is THE BEST coop experience I had since Halo 3 and Divinity: Original Sin 2. And I believe this experience will multiply were you to play with someone you love. Each level is new and crafted with love like a freshly baked cake and you’ll seldom find yourself getting bored. Surpassing the standards set by Brothers : A tale of Two Sons and A Way Out before, It Takes Two is a true GOTY 2021 contender!

Final Review : Essential

It Takes Two is now available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, and on the PC (Steam, EA Store) for $39.99 | ₹ 2,499.

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