When I was a kid, I remember being able to play doubles in cooperative play was a great cause for celebration. Maybe that’s why I have a special affection for Goof Troop (one of the forgotten ones of that time when Capcom was dedicated to adapting the most famous Disney franchises ) because he allowed me to enjoy in the company of my father a simplified version of some of my favorite titles.
In fact, when a video game invites us to enjoy it in a company, as soon as you do things well, you already have a lot of ground gained because part of the fun will come from the fact that you are playing with another person. Now, proposing a game totally focused on the premise of collaboration and doing it to shine in that plot is another story… That is what Josef Fares seems to have been pursuing for some time and that, in my opinion, he has achieved with this great It Takes Two.
Sometimes less is more
The title quickly puts us in a situation: a married couple burdened by the usual relationship problems that we can find in any Hollywood fiction on the subject, a little girl who copes with the situation as best she can and a charm, promoted by the girl, who ends up transferring the awareness of the parents to two small dolls that represent them. Fiction can be summed up that quickly, it’s that simple, and it’s as predictable as you can imagine. What’s more, in my opinion, it represents by far the most neglected aspect of the entire game.
The dynamics and dialogues between the couple and that red book so “salao” that we all could see in the trailer work well. They have a hook. In fact, they can get us more than one laugh (something that I personally appreciate a lot in a video game), but the story they tell us is quite weak and is wrapped in a free melodrama that doesn’t do him any good. But luckily, in the end, all this is nothing more than a mere excuse to spend more than a dozen hours doing fun activities, and the most varied, in the company.
In that sense, the video game itself seems to be aware of the situation because it wastes no time considering it. So much so that before we started to take command, we were already beginning to hear about divorce, and within a few minutes, we were already jumping around the family attic. After the initial tragedy and the conversion into dolls of the two protagonists, the main mission of both will be to recover their original bodies. But there is only one valid path to achieve this, that of collaboration, and this is something that Dr. Hakim’s energetic book will constantly remind us of.
A party for fun as a couple
Thus begins the title, posing a context that perhaps points too high and serves solely and exclusively to place the action. Also, his first world is, without a doubt, the worst of all: the simplest and most predictable mechanically and even somewhat chaotic in terms of the presentation of the challenges and the way to communicate to the player what is expected of him. Conclusion? If you approach It Takes Two and the beginning leaves you a little cold, keep trying because what comes next is one of the most rewarding cooperative experiences I have played to date.
Once it starts to take a run, the game is shown as a real storm of ideas, a box of surprises in the form of mechanics that will not stop presenting new approaches until we reach the credits. All this while taking us through different locations in the form of small worlds more or less open depending on the moment’s needs. You can tell that its director had his sights set solely and exclusively on collaboration since that is, in reality, the only point of his playable speech that is maintained from beginning to end. Everything else is subject to change depending on the moment.
A small buffet of approaches and genres
In this way, what at first is presented as a 3D platform and action video game, will end up paying us small tributes to a multitude of genres that lend themselves to cooperative play: from spectacular set-pieces more typical of action and adventure titles to races, going through all kinds of platforms, synchronizations and combinations of skills, each one more imaginative. For this, also, in each location, we will have a new item or ability that will mark the playable dynamics of the area, and that will always be in tune with that new approach that I am talking about, ensuring that the game does not stop reinventing itself in each new phase.
That structure also allows you to pose a few mini-worlds or open rooms, very appreciative of exploration. There is a feeling of a playground in them, which grows as we move forward and encourages us to touch and experiment with everything that surrounds us. The title can be completed in 12 or 13 hours if you intend to go for a shot, but this time I think it would be a mistake for two reasons.
In the first place, the extra material it presents is not excessive, and secondly, it is worth stopping to explore to find, among other things, the couple challenges that our beloved book presents us with… These challenges are nothing more than small competitive minigames that we will find distributed in each room. Almost all of them give for a few laughs, but there are a couple that can make you linger on them until exhaustion as soon as there is some pique between the pair of players.
All this proposal could have collapsed if the challenge had not been well adjusted, but it did not fail either. The title is relatively demanding even for the experienced player, but in exchange, forgoes severely penalizing in the face of continuous deaths. There will always be a control point nearby that allows the action not to stop.
Something that is also noticeable is how generous it is when demanding precision in certain jumps or the use of certain skills. Maybe a little more character in the penalty would have been good for him, but I think that depends too much on the type of player who approaches him. The cocktail is completed with an artistic section that is more than remarkable in general terms and with few brilliance moments.
However, It Takes Two is a total commitment to the cooperative, an exercise in claiming a different (or at least not so common) way of enjoying the traditional video game. A path that its director already started with his previous work, but that this time changes its focus. Without a way out, there was a certain fixation for asymmetric narration and a point of obsession for constantly changing the split screen’s layout; here, all that is abandoned and goes directly to the playable core.
The screen will remain more or less the same throughout the entire adventure, and the story will not get us too excited (neither by theme nor by form). But we will meet an exercise that constantly answers the same question throughout the game: how to get two players to work together to advance in a fun way. Its greatest virtue is that it provides many answers to that question, always in a remarkable way and in some cases even bordering on excellence. That is why its name could not be more appropriate for what it raises, since this video game, after all, is a matter of two.
A true festival of ideas on how to propose different types of cooperative gameplay. A personal commitment to a way of making video games that, on this occasion, fails to thrill with what it tells us, but it does know what makes us play. It takes two is an essential video game in any house with more than one player who is fond of platforms and adventure titles.
It Takes Two
One of the best cooperative experiences of recent years, with varied play solutions, comedy galore, and goodies capable of enchanting anyone.