- Developer: Hazelight
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Release Date: 26/03/2021
- Price: £34.99 / $39.99
- Code Provided By Electronic Arts
Introducing: It Takes Two PS4 Review
Hazelight is a studio I’ve always kept my eye on. A Way Out is probably one of my favourite co-op experiences out there, but Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons is a game which for whatever reason I never got around to finishing, despite it really interesting me. So does their third game – It Takes Two – manage to top its predecessor? Or did it end up also being added to the dropped pile? Keep reading our review to find out.
A Broken Marriage
The story revolves around May and Cody – a couple contemplating divorce – as well as their child, Rose. After breaking the news of their divorce to Rose, she goes to play with her toys and ends up crying on her doll recreations of her parents – which ends up making the parents inhabit said dolls. And so May and Cody try to find a way to get back to their real bodies, all while Rose’s whimsical (and sentient!) Book of Love tries to help them fix their relationship.
The story is an interesting backdrop to the gameplay, as there are points where the level is themed around their house, places they’ve been on holiday to, etc, but as I’ll discuss later, that certainly does not limit the locations the game takes you to. Unfortunately, this is probably the only good thing I can say about the story, as the rest of it is pretty badly written.
Story Divorced From Gameplay
The overarching idea of a couple trying to patch things up and learn to work together better is neat, but most of their arguments revolve around surface-level bickering and some issues they could have easily worked through or discussed before going straight to a divorce. Sure, there doesn’t need to be a deep-rooted reason for their marriage to fall apart, but the way it is handled makes it feel like the most unrealistic portrayal of a relationship.
At the start of the game, their constant arguments can even be somewhat annoying – every time either character does anything, the other feels the need to make some random potshot, and it gets really grating, especially with the amount of dialogue this game has. Fortunately though, the gameplay itself does a wonderful job to distract you from that. This has to be the one of most varied games I have ever played.
The most consistent aspect the game has going for it is platforming and puzzles. You can run, jump, dive, grapple and grind throughout both the linear and open areas. Though, before I go any further, I really have to gush about those open areas. They are an absolute joy to explore, and channel the same fluid movement the Sly Cooper games offer. The game would have been just fine if it was only about exploration and platforming, but it doesn’t stop there.
Throughout the adventure, you will find yourself shooting, sliding, fighting, swimming, hack and slashing, using magic, controlling time, flying, rolling… the list goes on and on and on, but I don’t want to spoil everything the game has to offer. Every level is completely distinct from one another, and once you move on, the gimmick of that area is never reused. The game is paced rather well, despite its genre-switching gameplay. Ignoring my issues storywise, the gameplay slows things down with open areas or more puzzle-oriented levels while sprinkling in big climactic boss fights and platforming challenges – and it all works.
They Can’t All Be Winners
The game rewards you for exploring with some optional minigames. These can range from snowball fights to wack-a-mole, to racing, etc. There were plenty of moments where me or my friend said “let’s go one more round” in the more fun minigames. Of course, having such varied gameplay comes at a cost. Not all of these minigames, or even the gimmicks in the main game, land perfectly. There are a few which feel barebones or button-mashy.
In fact, there’s not really any point in the game that I would call challenging – which, to be fair, is fantastic if you want to play with a casual gamer. But with the extremely forgiving checkpoints, you’re never in any real danger, so some gimmicks can feel a bit flat. To be honest though, this is just me being cynical. Since the game is constantly moving onto something new, you won’t even have to tough it out through the duds for very long, so I still found this game extremely enjoyable regardless of that.
A Beefy Adventure
The game clocked in at 13 hours for me, and those hours flew right by. And that time was spent looking at bright and colourful locales, with level themes that tangentially relate to the family, but are taken to the absolute extreme. For instance, there’s a level set in Rose’s bedroom… but you’ll find yourself using fidget spinners to fly over massive ball pits in it. On the technical side of things, I’m pleased to report that this is a rather polished game. There were a few minor glitches, but nothing game-breaking, and I wouldn’t be surprised if said minor issues were fixed in a patch.
The game attempts to aim for 60fps, and at first it seems to hold it pretty well. But eventually, the framerate starts to dip pretty often, especially whenever particles are involved. Of course, both my friend and I were playing online with base PS4’s, so your mileage will vary with the professional or PS5, but a framerate cap would have been a nice option. On that note, there are a couple of accessibility options to do with text to speech and voice over, but no options to remap any controls or reduce the amount of mashing that the game requires.
All in all then, I think this is a pretty great package. While I feel the story can hold the game back with its questionable writing, the breakneck pace at which this game chucks in new ideas and just as easily throws them away elevates this game in spite of its issues. It feels like A Way Out was a mere precursor to the ideas and execution this game has. It Takes Two makes an excellent case for being one of the best co-operative games I’ve played, and with the Friend Pass allowing you to play online with only one copy of the game, getting this game is a no-brainer.
- Bursting with creativity
- Consistently great level ideas and gimmicks
- Fun platforming, puzzles and exploration
- Rather easy
- Bad writing