Analysis of It Takes Two, an ode to cooperative play

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I remember when I was a kid, 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 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. However, propose a game totally focused on the premise of collaboration and do it so well as to shine in that plot, it is another story. That’s what it seems to haunt for a while Josef Fares 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 an enchantment, promoted by the girl, which ends up transferring the consciousness 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, they work well, they have hook and 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 (one of those on Sunday afternoons on you know which channel) 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 company.

Every time we face a new game we can decide with which character we want to play

In that sense, the video game itself seems to be aware of the situation, because it wastes no time in considering the situation. So much so that before we started to take command, we were already beginning to hear about divorce and, after 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 to achieve this there is only one valid path, that of collaboration., and this is something that will constantly remind us Dr. Hakim’s energetic book.

A party for fun as a couple

Thus begins the title, posing a context that perhaps points too high and that serves, solely and exclusively, to place the action. In addition, his first world is undoubtedly 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.

The main characters and some secondary characters have enough charisma to remain in our memory for a while

And is that 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 needs of the moment. You can tell that its director had his sights set solely and exclusively on collaboration, because 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 is initially presented as a 3D platform and action video game, will end up giving us small tributes to a multitude of genres that lend themselves to cooperative play: since set pieces spectacular more typical of action and adventure titles, even races, going through all kinds of platforms, synchronizations and combinations of skills, each one more imaginative. For this, in addition, 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, achieving that the game does not stop reinventing itself in each new phase.

The title has a surprising number of activities without a fixed purpose, intended for simple experimentation

That structure also allows you to pose a few mini worlds, or open rooms, very appreciative of exploration. In them a playground sensation increases, 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 that 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. These challenges are nothing more than small competitive minigames that we will find distributed in each of the rooms. Almost all of them give for a few laughs, but there are a couple that, as soon as there is some pique between the pair of players, can make you linger on them until exhaustion.

All this proposal could have collapsed if the challenge had not been well adjusted, but there it does not fail either. The title is relatively demanding even for the experienced player, but in exchange forgets to penalize severely in the face of continuous deaths– There will always be a checkpoint nearby that allows the action to not stop. Something that is also noticeable in how generous it is when it comes to demanding precision in certain jumps or in 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 more than remarkable in general terms and with not a few moments of brilliance.

The artistic work of the different environments is, almost always, bordering on excellence

Co-o-pe-ra-tion

However, what is clear is that 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 in A way out there was a certain fixation for asymmetric narration and a point of obsession for constantly changing the layout of the split screen, here all that is abandoned and goes directly to the playable core. The screen will remain more or less the same throughout the adventure, and the story will not get us too excited (neither by theme nor by form). But we will meet an exercise that tries to constantly answer 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 provides a multitude of 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 videogames 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 that has more than one player who is fond of platforms and adventure titles.

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