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It Takes Two review: The perfect game to get you through lockdown

It Takes Two is our Game of the Week, and it could be just what you need right now.

It Takes Two is our Game of the Week.
4.0 out of 5 star rating

After hundreds of days in lockdown, you might well be yearning for adventure, or at least looking for something new to play. As if on cue, here comes a great new game to consider – It Takes Two, a two-player co-op experience with cuteness and craftiness in abundance.

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It Takes Two is our RadioTimes.com Game of the Week, and we really do think that a lot of people around the world will find plenty to enjoy here. Whether you’re playing local split-screen multiplayer (with the person you’ve been stuck at home with for months) or joining up with a faraway friend online instead, this is a game that is genuinely designed to bring people together. As the name suggests, you literally can’t play it on your own.

The game revolves around a simple-enough idea: you and your co-op partner will play as Cody and May, a married couple on the brink of divorce, who are trapped in the bodies of some adorable homemade dolls. Your main aim, at least at the start of the game, is to travel across perilous landscapes and try to reunite with your daughter. You just told her about the impending divorce, and her promptly-wept tears appear to be linked to the strange magic that’s now at play.

Meeting up with your daughter won’t be easy, though. In your shrunken state, you’re trapped in a situation that vaguely resembles Toy Story (with Pixar-worthy graphics to match). Almost everything in the world seems massive from your new perspective, and you’ll have to work together with your co-op partner to work towards your goals.

The game is split up into a series of levels, each of which introduces a fun new platforming element that you’ll need to wrap your heads around. One early level revolves around a toolbox, for example: one of the players ends up with a hammer, the other one gets some nails, and you use these as gadgets to open up new areas. You even use them as weapons, too.

Another level near the start of the game sees you entering into a big boss battle against a disgruntled vaccum cleaner, which is more challenging than it sounds on paper. Similar to a boss battle from a Mario game, you’ll need to dodge the vaccum cleaner’s attacks and wait for your chance to strike. Even something as simple as walloping an enemy revolves around teamwork, though – one of you gets to hoover up explosives, while the other one takes charge of aiming them at your foe.

You'll team up with a co-op partner for It Takes Two.
You’ll team up with a co-op partner for It Takes Two.
Hazelight/EA Originals

There are also moments where timing plays a key role – in some cases, you’ll both need to press buttons at the exact same time in order to open up the next location. And when those buttons are on rails that you need to slide along at speed, again things get a bit tricky. As the couple on-screen begins to bicker, you may well find tensions rising in your own home as well. Thankfully, though, there’s normally something fun around the corner – you’re never very far from a cool new idea being introduced, and there’s a real sense of achievement as you work each new problem out.

The overall experience feels like a more grown-up version of those classic Traveller’s Tales games like LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Lord of the Rings. The world is cute, there are levels to beat, and teamwork is the key to making progress. There are also some fun little minigames scattered around, which allow you to compete against your co-op partner in various ways. There is often humour to be found in these moments, and they always add a little bit of extra fun to proceedings.

The only real flaw in It Takes Two is the laboured storytelling. Lengthy gameplay-halting dialogue scenes are thrust into the mix a bit too regularly, and you could argue that they get a bit repetitive. There’s also a talking self-help book that is constantly trying to repair Cody and May’s relationship, in its own unique way, and for some players that oddball character might get a bit annoying. You can skip the cut-scenes, but both players have to agree to do so.

Whether or not you have the patience to sit through the cut-scenes, there should be more than enough joy in the gameplay to keep you entertained. The controls are easy to learn, but there’s always something new to master. It’s genuinely lovely to play this game with a partner, working out all the little puzzles and mastering each level’s new gimmick as its emerges. No level is the same as the last, and you should be working like a well-oiled machine by the end of the game.

Developed by the indie darlings at Hazelight Studios and published by the EA Originals label, It Takes Two feels like it was developed in something of a gaming industry sweet spot. The developers have freedom to try a lot of fresh ideas, but there is also a big enough budget to realise those concepts in impressive ways. The graphics look charmingly beautiful throughout, and the game seems to be totally devoid of bugs and glitches, which isn’t always the case for new games these days.

If you’re running low on lockdown entertainment and like the sound of teaming up with another player to undertake some unique platforming, you really should check out It Takes Two. It’s a neat way to blow off some steam, it’s packed with creative ideas, and it really does feel like a perfect game to bring people together in these (hopefully) final stretches of lockdown. You’ll have hours of fun as a pair, even if you do decide to skip the cut-scenes!

It Takes Two is out now for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. We reviewed the PS5 version.

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