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Words: Catherine Lewis
How many times do we hear people say that co-op games have ruined their relationships? Sure, they're (usually) only joking, but ironically, the whole premise of It Takes Two is to achieve the complete opposite.
The whimsical co-op game follows the story of May and Cody - a couple on the brink of divorce, trying to do their best for their daughter Rose. After the two reveal they will be separating, however, Rose unknowingly puts a spell on them, trapping them inside look-alike dolls, and with the aid of a sentient relationship therapy book (yes, really), they're forced to work together to return to their real bodies, in turn learning how to love each other again.
This might sound obvious, but something that cannot be overlooked about It Takes Two is just how well executed the teamwork element is. I know, I know, it's a co-op game after all, but there's something so seamless and satisfying about how the game encourages you to overcome its challenges with your partner.
While there's a mix of environmental puzzles, which might require a bit of staring at and discussion before figuring them out, and also faster-paced sections which, unless you're both on the ball with your reaction times, will almost certainly take you a few tries to perfect, the game really encourages that steady communication and interaction, and not in an Overcooked! 'manic yelling until it works' way (although it has to be said that the latter is still immensely fun).
Visually, the game is an absolute treat, too. The environments May and Cody have to traverse on their little doll legs are all fantasy versions of places inside and around their house, packed with sentient inanimate objects (let's not talk about Cutie the elephant) and talking animals. Not only do they look gorgeous, but they're also full of tiny details and interactive elements that exist solely for the reason of being fun - it rewards exploration in such a charming way that's so often lost in other co-op games, where the multiplayer tasks at hand are generally put at the forefront, with less thought given to immersion.
At its core, It Takes Two is also completely story driven - something we so rarely see in games designed purely to be multiplayer. By and large, the magic of co-op games is creating your own unique experiences with the person you're playing with - the game providing you with what you need to have a great time, and allowing you and a friend to do the rest.
It Takes Two goes beyond this - while you and your partner's dynamic will undoubtedly help shape some gameplay escapades unlike anyone else's, the fact that you're also directly following a story allows you both to immerse yourselves and go on that journey together. It's not just about the mini-games, bosses, and fun puzzle sections, but watching May and Cody confront their issues and grow as people just warms your hearts.
Overall, It Takes Two is just a delight, and one that's definitely best experienced first-hand alongside a friend, whether that be side-by-side on a sofa, or using the power of the internet. If you haven't already, be sure to give it a go - you might just fall in love with it.
This piece is the second in a series looking at outstanding games within a certain genre, exploring what makes them special compared to their peers. Follow the author on Twitter at @NerdyJourno.
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