It Takes Two isn't the follow up to A Way Out we were expecting from Hazelight Studios, but it takes all the innovations made in cooperative gameplay and level design and raises them to the next level. It's a fantastic co-op game that everyone should get the chance to play. However, not everyone will have the chance to play. It Takes Two is a great game that ignores an important potential audience - loners.
It Takes Two isn't for you - unless you have friends!
In a world where the prominence of traditional 'couch co-op' experiences are fleeting and the presence of two-player titles are being eroded by live-service MMOs and microtransaction-heavy multiplayer experiences, It Takes Two is a welcome breath of fresh air.
It's a game that's exclusively two-player - a bright platformer built around cooperative actions and puzzles where you have to work together with unique in-game abilities.
The narrative has proven controversial, portraying a couple attempting to fix their marriage through a rollercoaster of strange larger-than-life environments - but judging that side of things will of course come down to your own experience with the subject matter. What we're talking about is a core gameplay feature. Well... we're talking about a core gameplay feature that's missing.
Hazelight Studios' choice to make It Takes Two a purely cooperative multiplayer experience inherently limits who can actually play the game. You need two players, whether you're playing online via an internet connection or through on in a 'couch co-op' setting with local split-screen.
It's an unavoidable entry-point that limits who can play - it really does take two. The lack of an AI-controlled partner and a competent matchmaking system feels like a major oversight - couple that with the lack of a 'character switching' mechanic and there's a lot that could be done.
We know the cooperative gameplay is an intrinsic part of It Takes Two - the whole narrative is about two people learning to co-operate with one another after all - but it doesn't have to be a limiter.
There are a lot of things to take away from It Takes Two's story - whether you're in a couple, with some friends, or alone. A 'character switching' feature or some sort of AI-controlled companion would be the perfect addition to It Takes Two when it comes to Hazelight Studios enabling more people to experience their game. This wouldn't impact the playability of the game itself in its current state either; there are only a few instances of puzzle-based gameplay that require both members to be actively completing unique tasks to progress.
In the moments where both playable characters are working together - for example on the raft segments or the bi-plane portion of the game - a singular set of uniform controls could be in place to allow a single player to still experience the exciting action set-pieces.
It wouldn't be impossible to make It Takes Two a single-player title - the co-operative gameplay is an important part of the game but it doesn't need to be. The technology is there to offer players a capable AI partner if they don't have someone else to take on It Takes Two with.
It Takes Two does help you out if you can't convince your friends to play with you, though. You don't actually even need two copies of the game to play cooperatively online. EA's Friend's Pass allows one player who owns It Takes Two to play with another person who doesn't own it, for no extra charge.
However, what you do need is a friend and the time to play It Takes Two with someone. If you can't match up your schedules, or if you don't have anyone you can rope into this two-player experience... You're out of luck. You're missing out on the Game of the Year!
There are a lot of great multiplayer games out there that a lot of people enjoy when they play cooperatively with one another - however, almost all of them are accessible in one way or another as a singular player. It might not be the full package or the complete experience, but there's still a way for you to play if you're alone. It Takes Two doesn't have that and the fact that it has won this year's Game of the Year award from The Game Awards is a worrying sign that this could become a major trend in future releases - we have exclusively single-player games, we have exclusively online multiplayer games, and now we might be getting exclusively two-player games.
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