This post is part of a ten day series on my top ten games of 2021. You can find previous entries here.

10. Deathloop

9. Hitman 3

8. It Takes Two.

I’m not really a multiplayer game person. Sure, I play fighting games and I  developed a bit of an unhealthy Fortnite habit last year. When it comes to co-op campaigns, however, it’s just never been my forte. When A Way Out came out in 2018, I was fairly interested, but that co-op necessity stopped me from playing it. The same could be said for It Takes Two. I saw the trailers with the funny book man and thought “neat” but I didn’t expect to play it.

Over the course of the year I just kept hearing about it; it was being put up for loads of awards, and eventually I gave in to the allure of the funny book man. After spending a while trying to determine if playing a game about divorce with my partner was appropriate, we were off to the races.

It Takes Two places you in the shoes of Cody and May, a couple on the verge of divorce; their daughter Rose goes all Rick Moranis and inadvertently imprisons them in dolls made in her parents’ image. Dr Hakim – the aforementioned funny book man – informs them they are trapped until they settle their differences.

The most interesting thing about It Takes Two is that there isn’t exactly a main gameplay loop. Each chapter introduces a new mechanic for both players – typically connected to what’s happening in the story at that point. For example; the garden level gives Cody the ability to turn into plants and equips May with a water gun to help him grow. While the integration of all of these separate mechanics without the game turning into a mess is It Takes Two’s most impressive feat – it also acts as its biggest detriment. Not all levels are created equal; for example, I found the shed level to consist of a lot of waiting around for Cody while May did the brunt of the action – which doesn’t leave a great impression when it’s the first level. Luckily, this isn’t as prominent in  later sections of the game.

To throw the elephant in the room off a castle, I’ve seen a lot of criticism levied at this game’s depiction of divorce, which isn’t something I can’t personally speak to. Outside of that, I found the game’s story to be enjoyable in general – if a bit weird tonally. Cody and May can be a bit inconsistent; one second they are getting along fine; the next they’re insulting each other for a minute straight. This tends to happen a lot during  transitions between chapters. I suppose you can’t have a story about divorce without friction, but I wish the change wasn’t as out of nowhere as it can be in this game.

Hazelight’s sophomore game may not be enough to change my opinion on co-op only games entirely, but I’m definitely excited for whatever Josef “f the Oscars” Fares and the team are up to next. I might even go back to A Way Out.