Traditional co-op gaming experiences can sometimes feel similar to solo play: another player picks up a controller, and a second avatar pops onto your screen that works almost exactly in the same way you do. This can be a blessing for people with limited time to game, but it can mean that the impact your partner has on the larger experience is minimized. Recent co-op game It Takes Two does things differently.
Josef Fares and the team at Hazelight Studios have used It Takes Two to build on some of the co-op of their previous release, A Way Out. In both games, your partner is just as necessary as you are, and there is no experience without the both of you involved. Where It Takes Two excels above A Way Out is the way it applies its game design logic to the narrative.
As you make your way through It Takes Two, every action is punctuated with an underlying message of teamwork. As Cody and May, the playable characters, realize that the root of their relationship issues lie in their inability to be on the same page, players controlling Cody and May realize that there is no moving forward unless they figure out how to work together. Momentum forward in the gameplay translates to momentum forward in the narrative. Because these two elements constantly feed each other, a tangible harmony is present throughout the game, one that is felt at almost every moment.
Though It Takes Two stumbles here and there trying to nail down a consistent tone, those moments are easy to ignore because of just how damn fun it is to play and how varied the experience can be. The sheer amount of different mechanics present in the game means that players are always rediscovering how to work together, much in the same way the narrative asks Cody and May to do.
If you’re itching for a new co-op game to tackle with a friend or a loved one, It Takes Two should be on your list. Check out the video above to see the game in action.