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It Takes Two

GOTY 2021: #6 - It Takes Two

This co-op only title was the big winner at this year's The Game Awards.

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Beating out the likes of Returnal, Psychonauts 2, and Forza Horizon 5 to win Game of the Year at this year's The Game Awards was Hazelight Studios' It Takes Two. Seeing a smaller release like this crushing Sony and Microsoft's flagship titles might be surprising. Still, it's worthy of this coveted prize due to its refreshingly unique co-op experience. The EA-published game is co-op exclusive, and each players' journey has a differing set of obstacles to overcome. It's not Hazelight's first co-op only game, but it's certainly its best.

First of all, we have to talk about the game's excellent set-up. It Takes Two is described as being a rom-com, which is a genre we can't say we have seen before in a platformer. Here, parents Cody and May are on the verge of separation, and they make the difficult call to break the news to their young daughter. With tears in her eyes, their daughter retreats to her room, where she wishes her parents would resolve their issues. Surprisingly, following this, the pair are transformed into two dolls and must put their differences aside to return back to their human forms. The core storyline is both depressingly relatable and fantastical, and it was touching to watch this once warring pair patch up their their wounds.

It Takes Two

We can't praise It Takes Two enough for its novel and consumer-friendly approach to its co-op. If you're looking to play online with a friend, your companion can download a free buddy pass, and they don't have to grab a copy themselves. The buddy pass can be found easily on a platform's storefront, and all a player needs is an invite to join in on the fun. A move like this is a rarity to see right now, with the industry seemingly being obsessed with baiting players into purchasing microtransactions and add-ons.

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When it comes to the gameplay, you'll occasionally hit a bump along the road that requires you and your partner to split off and work together. The action here is displayed completely in split-screen, so you always have a view of what your partner is doing and you can yell out tips. What elevates It Takes Two above other co-op games is that the path for both players is unique. During one earlier sequence, for example, May is given a nail gun and must fire nails into the wall for Cody to swing across them using the head of a hammer.

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The boss battles here are a real visual spectacle and provide more of a combat-focused contrast to the usual platforming gameplay. They are almost puzzle-like in nature too, as you need to figure out the correct way to take them down; there's no spamming attacks until they hit the ground. The first and one of the most memorable of these boss encounters sees you take on a sentient vacuum cleaner. Here one player must suck up explosives cannisters by riding on top of a vacuum, and the other is tasked with firing them at the boss.

Given the quality of It Takes Two, it's unsurprising why director Joseph Fares was so confident about his $1,000 bet earlier in year. This follow-up to 2018's A Way Out represents a new golden standard for co-op, and you would seriously struggle to find a better alternative from this year to play with your family and friends. We know Hazelight's next outing will share the same co-op only focus, but let's hope its comparable in quality.

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It Takes Two

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It Takes TwoScore

It Takes Two

REVIEW. Written by Jonas Mäki

Hazelight is back with another co-op focused adventure.



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