It Takes Two is the latest co-operative multiplayer title from film director-cum-game designer Josef Fares and his game studio Hazelight, following on from their initial 2018 release of A Way Out under the EA Originals label. It Takes Two tells the tale of a broken relationship – two parents, Cody and May, who have decided to get a divorce – and their daughter Rose, who has overheard their arguments and knew this was coming, trying to learn about love and relationships so that she can try to keep them together.

In an attempt to better understand how she can help save her parents’ marriage, she acquires a book from Dr. Hakim, the “Book of Love”, explaining the ins and outs of love, relationships and how a couple must work to keep the spark alive. In addition to this book, we see Rose’s love for her mother and father expressed through an adorable set of handmade dolls, which she made herself, modelled in the image of her parents, to allow her to pretend that her parents still have a loving relationship when playing. After her parents tell her they have decided to go their separate ways, Rose is overcome with sadness and makes a wish that her parents can give each other one more chance and learn to love again.

As her tears fall on the book and dolls, the fun of the game begins! Magic begins to fill their home and her parents transform into their tiny doll counterparts. The parents, understandably, begin to freak out after seeing their new, doll-like bodies and the game introduces us to a living version of Dr. Hakim’s Book of Love, who, once they’ve calmed down a little, attempts to instil within them the importance of collaboration in any healthy relationship. It quickly becomes clear that this book is not going to let them get back to their human bodies until they learn how to fix their marriage by working together and rediscovering what they loved about one another.

This premise works excellently, allowing the game to make some ingenious uses of the environments of a standard house and garden in early chapters to create brilliant, fun and inventive platforming and puzzle gameplay. The story and game mechanics mesh sublimely and It Takes Two is constantly changing up the formula throughout the course of game, ensuring nothing ever becomes stale. Each chapter introduces a brand new gameplay mechanic for each of the two characters, which results in each and every chapter feeling completely different from each other in terms of gameplay. They each have their own feel, setting and unique puzzle mechanic and it is quite incredible that the game manages to introduce so many enjoyable, inventive systems throughout its course.

Every chapter involves Cody and May working together with their individual gameplay mechanics to traverse the world and its many dangers, puzzles and blockades. For example, the first chapter takes place in their shed, with Cody having nails and May controlling a hammer. Traversal challenges occur through Cody throwing nails at specific targets and May using her hammer to swing on the thrown nails, allowing them to traverse a gap. Boss fights are also a key part of It Takes Two and just like the rest of the game, these are incredibly unique, innovative and hilarious. The first chapter ends with a battle against your old vacuum cleaner, which was damaged beyond repair due to Cody’s misuse of it by sucking up large objects, and left in the shed by May despite her promises to fix it. The vacuum cleaner is offended by being left to die in the shed and being replaced with a pompous French vacuum cleaner, which, according to the old vacuum, “can’t even suck properly”, and wants to seek revenge on the couple as a result.

The most impressive aspect of It Takes Two is that this innovation, this originality, never runs out through the entire length of the game. New mechanics, scenarios, enemies and subplots are introduced so frequently that you feel like you’ve barely been acquainted with them by the time the game throws them out and parades out the next cool feature. Josef Fares, the director of the game, jokingly stated months ago that he would personally give $1000 to anyone who became bored with It Takes Two. While I chuckled at this claim at the time, I can see why he made it; I think it is quite literally impossible to become bored or tired of this game, as it is simply packed with sublime gameplay mechanics, which are never dragged out for enough time to risk burning out their fun. The level of variety on offer is astounding and I must commend the developers for putting so much work into creating so many unique gameplay systems; achieving an experience free of even a hint of filler content.

As you may expect from the premise, It Takes Two has an extremely heavy reliance on working together with your partner when it comes to gameplay. It is not possible to play through the game successfully without good communication, cooperation and collaboration. The game is always played in split screen, even through online play, which in hindsight, is a good decision, as it allows you to always see what’s on your partners screen. This can be particularly useful when the person playing with you isn’t sitting beside you, as you can see what they are doing and where they are at all times. From my time playing through this title with my partner, I cannot recommend this game more strongly if you’re looking for a multiplayer game to play with someone. If you’re concerned about difficulty, there is no need to be overly so. The low difficulty level means that for seasoned gamers, It Takes Two will be very easy, yet they’ve designed it in such a way that it never feels boring, despite the lack of challenge. This makes the game accessible to almost anyone, yet engaging to almost everyone.

In terms of the story, It Takes Two manages to deliver just as brilliant an experience as it does in gameplay design. The story never intends to be taken too seriously and leans into the ridiculous nature of its premise, leading to a truly hilarious experience which will, at times, have you beaming with joy, falling off your seat laughing and picking your jaw up off the floor. The subplots in each chapter are incredibly unpredictable and the game manages to continually top itself with just how bonkers it can get. I don’t want to spoil anything beyond the already discussed element of chapter one, however, as the surprise is a huge part of the charm and enjoyment offered by It Takes Two. The game took me around twelve hours to complete in full, which is surprisingly meaty.

Voice acting, music and animation round out the brilliant presentation and production values in It Takes Two. The game oozes a level of quality akin to something like a Pixar film; no easy feat! While A Way Out was far from a bad game, the jump in class from that game to It Takes Two is remarkable and It Takes Two feels like a jump from indie title to AAA production. I truly hope that the title is a massive success for Hazelight and EA so that Josef Fares continues to get a large budget from EA with full creative control to make more games in this genre. If the studio can continue to output games with the same level of quality as It Takes Two, they will undoubtedly be the masters of this formula.

One more area worth mentioning is the visuals. The entire game is filled with gorgeously crafted, highly detailed texturing and looks absolutely stunning at times. I did not expect this to be one of the areas in which the game focused heavily, however, it really is pushing to establish itself a premiere title in almost every possible aspect and metric. The art style is sublime, fitting the game like a glove, and is somewhat similar to the style used in Obsidian’s Grounded, which is fitting, considering that both games focus on humans who have been shrunk down to a small size.

Overall, It Takes Two is an incredible title and one of the best co-operative experiences I have ever played, if not THE best. I cannot recommend the game highly enough and I would encourage everybody to give it a shot with their partner, a friend or a family member. The game is accessible enough to allow almost anyone to enjoy it with a little bit of practice and will likely be one of the most heartwarming, rib-tickling and smile inducing entertainment experiences you’ll have this year.

If you’re unable to play with someone locally, the game also offers a friend pass, allowing a friend to download a free version of the game on the same platform as you and play through the game with you, so long as you own a paid copy of the game, which is a great touch of class from Hazelight. Personally, I feel that It Takes Two delivers a level of quality whereby a full AAA RRP price point would not have been an unreasonable ask, however, if you needed one final push to get you over the line, did we mention the game is actually only priced at 39.99EUR/USD?