There are some game developers who sit quietly in the background, preferring to let their games and creations do the talking; you never know what they look like or where they come from. Yet there are others who prefer to build the hype, happy to chat, to shout and to proclaim greatness from the rooftops. And then there is Josef Fares, someone who takes things further still.
The creative heartbeat behind the likes of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and A Way Out, Fares is well-known in the gaming industry, and not just because his games provide some excellent cooperative opportunities. You see, Fares is a hugely likeable fella, slightly eccentric, slightly crazed, full-on committed – he’s one of those guys that you would just love to work for. And that vibe has been translated over to his latest creation, It Takes Two.
It Takes Two has come about through Josef Fares, his hugely creative Hazelight Studios team, and the might of EA and their EA Originals scheme (Unravel, Sea of Solitude, Rocket Arena), with all combining to create what is possibly one of the most exciting, most immersive romantic comedy love stories to have come to the gaming world. Not just in recent times, but possibly ever.
Telling the tale of two parents who have been shrunk down and turned into raggy doll clay people by their daughter, Rose, in hope that it will stop an inevitable split between them and bringing the family closer in the process, this is a cooperative affair from the outset. If you’re a solo player, there is nothing for you here. It’s so cooperative in fact that it’s one of those games that will really excel when you are playing it with a loved one, either sat on the sofa alongside you or through the power of the online services which have kept relationships blooming through crisis. There’s of course nothing to stop you from playing it with a stranger from across the globe, but as Fares has been keen to point out at every given opportunity, communication is key to this adventure and that is best felt when two minds become one. Just don’t even bother trying to play when muted.
It Takes Two has got love, romance, comedy, mystery and outright fun oozing from every pore as you join a fantastical world full of challenge, joining characters who are pushed along by the suave love guru Dr. Hakim; a guy intent on helping make this relationship work. Possibly. Probably.
The touching, endearing world will be instantly recognisable too, from the visuals that take the parents – Cody and May – into weird and wonderful scaled down worlds, and the immersive audio that brings it together. Bright, super colourful and full of huge amounts of detail – and Easter Eggs, lots of Easter Eggs – the 12-14 hours of gameplay promised here will have you feeling like you’ve been dropped slap bang into the middle of one of the best Pixar movies. We’re guessing this is where Fares’ cinematic background comes to the fore.
And much like the movies, this is a straight-up linear affair too, with absolutely zero collectibles to worry about. But those aren’t important in the minds of those at Hazelight, with the team preferring to bring together a rom-com love tale and its combination with various gameplay elements and numerous different mechanics much higher on the developmental agenda. With the two main characters each having a starring role to play, utilising their skills and specific weapons in tandem with each other, if you’re looking for a reason to head back in once this adventure is done and dusted, then you should well find a new experience can be enjoyed with the other character to hand.
Whilst the story looks to take some dark moments and shine a light on a family looking to stay together, that whole element plays a huge role in everything about It Takes Two. This even boils down to how the game is being marketed too – EA’s Friends Pass will ensure that anyone looking to play the game with a friend will be able to do so with just one copy of It Takes Two being purchased. Credit, high-fives and a huge amount of love has to go to everyone who has made that possible as this move alone should really open the game up to a new market of players. That said, this isn’t going to be one of those games you can drag out at Christmas, showcasing the power of Xbox Series X|S to your non-gaming Grandma. It’s probably not going to be a game for parents to bond with really young kids over too – a decent test in gaming skills is on the cards and so players should be familiar with how a controller works; working together is the only way forward.
From the outside looking in, It Takes Two has a huge amount of promise and is certainly in line for taking the genre to the next level, vying for the cooperative gaming crown in the process. We’ll find out if all the ideas and elements come together when the game releases on Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5 and PC come March 26th 2021. With full optimisation for Xbox Series X|S, the £34.99 price tag on the Xbox Store doesn’t seem too bad. Whatever the final verdict, you can be sure that much like the creative mind behind it, this is going to be an exciting, crazy, somewhat emotional journey.
We’ll have a full review up and live for you around that time.
For now, huge thanks go out to Josef Fares, Hazelight Studios and EA for letting us get a sneak peak and the chance to sit in on their It Takes Two press event. And make sure you take in the latest trailer; it gives a great insight into how It Takes Two will play out – let us know which gaming Easter Eggs you spot by posting in the comments below. We bag Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare…