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Video Game / It Takes Two (2021)

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We're Better Together.

It Takes Two is a genre-busting action-adventure video game developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts under the EA Originals label. It is the third game by writer and director Josef Fares, who previously made Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and A Way Out.

The story follows Cody and May, an estranged couple whose souls/minds have been transferred into dolls by their daughter Rose. The two must learn to work together with assistance from a magical book named Dr. Hakim in order to repair their relationship and return to the real world.

Just like A Way Out, It Takes Two has no single-player option: It is playable only in either online or local split-screen co-op between two players. The players take control of May and Cody and make use of level-specific gimmicks to defeat bosses, complete challenges and solve puzzles.

The game released on March 26, 2021 to widespread critical acclaim, winning Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards and the 25th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards, and selling more than 5 million copies.

A feature film adaptation of the game was announced in April 2022 for Amazon Studios. Pat Casey and Josh Miller of Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) will write the screenplay and Dwayne Johnson will produce through his Seven Bucks Productions label.

For the 1995 film of no relation, see here.

Tropes in this game include:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The weapons given to Cody and May in the Tree Chapter count. Cody's gun shoots globs of sap, which can then be exploded by May's matchstick rifle.
  • Aesop Enforcer: In order to teach them to appreciate each other, Dr. Hakim forcibly tranforms Cody and May into dolls and thwarts any of their attempts to escape the dangerous The Wonderland. However, due to Resurrective Immortality, they're not in real danger, and eventually figure out that Poor Communication Kills was the main problem in their relationship.
  • Ambiguous Ending:
    • Though Cody and May do reconcile, it's left up in the air if they've truly decided to stay together or if they'll go through with the divorce but remain on amicable terms. All they assure Rose is that their divorce is not her fault and that they'll always be there for her.
    • If you have Cody and May stumble upon the Leo and Vincent dolls from the video game, A Way Out and activate them altogether, it showed Leo being pissed off at Vincent. What is he pissed at him for, deceiving him all this time of being an undercover cop or being killed off by him? If it leans on the latter, then it's assumed that the ending where Vincent lives while Leo dies is the canon ending for the game.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It can be a little hard to tell whether or not Dr. Hakim himself is the one warping reality around our main duo or if it really is all Rose's doing and the book is just another piece of her imagination...
  • Animate Inanimate Object: A duo of living dolls and a talking book make up the main cast aside from Rose, then there are almost all the background characters. From living toys to talking tools to walking glow sticks.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Cutie loses a leg and ear as she's being dragged to her death.
    Cutie: (shell-shocked) M-my leg! No...!
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: After being told that tears landed on the dolls just before Cody and May were turned into them, Cody says that it must be a spell. May says she doesn't believe in magic, and Cody retorts they're talking to a pair of binoculars.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Dr. Hakim uses this on both Cody and May, to drive home that both of them could learn about appreciation. First, he asks May when was the last time she thanked Cody for keeping the house in tip-top shape in her absence. Then, he asks Cody when was the last time he expressed appreciation for May working overtime to pay for their home. Both are at a loss for words, steadily realizing their lack of communication has been the root of their relationship problem.
  • Awesome, but Temporary: Many of Cody and May's abilities are only available for a certain part of the game and disappear afterwards. Both Cody and May issue their regrets at times when they lose an ability.
  • Band Land: The final chapter of the game takes place in the attic and every level portion is based on some different genre of music while Cody and May try to put on a concert.
    • Part 1 takes place in a rock-based environment with areas like a recording studio and the inside of a jukebox.
    • Part 2 takes place largely in the game's version of heaven in which Cody and May have to find an orchestra.
    • Part 3 sees the duo make their way through a neon-lit disco to find their audience.
  • Big Damn Kiss: At the end of the final level, after May's singing performance, she and Cody slowly levitate towards each other, before going in for a long kiss that only ends when they return to their old bodies.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In the Cuckoo Clock chapter, May and Cody discuss the nature of the former's work habits. May justifies that she needs her job in order to maintain their home and lifestyle. Cody then points out that if she completely throws herself into her work, she can't hope to maintain her relationship with her family.
  • Clockworks Area: The later part of the Cuckoo Clock chapter.
  • Clockwork Creature: The Cuckoo Clock chapter has a pair of clockwork birds which Cody and May can ride. A much larger bird attacks them near the end of the chapter for disturbing its nest.
  • Combat Resuscitation: In all battles, a downed character can be revived after a bit of time, which can be sped up pressing the action button repeatedly. If both Cody and May are downed at the same time, the fight is lost and the game reloads the last save.
  • Cooldown: Many of Cody and May's abilities have one to prevent the player from endlessly spamming it, such as the ability cooldowns of the Fire Knight and Ice Wizard section in the road to the magic castle or May's singing meter in the attic stage.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • Dr. Hakim's advice on love may be flowery at best and raunchy at worst. But every now and again, there are pearls of wisdom in his words. It's like he says, part of having a good relationship is to support one another's passion. And according to Rose, his book reads that forgiveness is key to make a relationship work.
    • He also has May and Cody pegged when he accuses them of treating Rose like a possession, saying "Can you really own the people you love?" As we later see, they treat their daughter's crying again as a vehicle to making them human once more, rather than a troubling sign of how they've done Rose a great disservice.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option: A few moments stand out, especially the murder of Cutie the elephant. Yes, you literally Kill the Cutie.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Cody and May theorize that if they make Rose cry on their doll forms again, they can reverse the 'spell'. The trope comes into play when (through Moon Baboon's surveillance system) they see first-hand that their daughter has been anxious for a while. Instead of recognizing this anomaly correlates with their fighting and announcing their divorce, Cody brushes off, wholly believing their daughter is still a happy child. It goes as far as Cody and May having a sudden realization that "they can affect the world around Rose", but completely fail to realize the implications. It comes to a head when they go through with breaking Rose's favorite toy Cutie, truly believing that making Rose cry will make things normal again.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Cody and May have a tendency to lie to people to get what they want, turning back on their words and getting them hurt with their lies. Much like parents who coerce their children with promises they don't keep.
  • Dying to Wake Up: Discussed and Averted; when May and Cody were turned into dolls, May tries to die to wake up. Only to immediately reconfigure herself and realise that they cannot do this.
  • Eldritch Location: At first it looks like May and Cody may simply travel through locations around the house but they quickly find themselves in strange worlds heavily based on significant things around their home. Worlds that would clearly not fit within the confines of said house without some serious remodeling.
  • Eye Scream: Cody and May destroy the vacuum cleaner by forcing it to suck out its own eyes.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: One world in the Attic chapter is this, complete with Cody and May having to open golden gates to rescue an orchestra that will accompany May's singing. At one point, they even need to attack some anthropomorphic clouds to cause them to rain tears to solve a puzzle.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Cody and May hitch a ride on the back of an ethereal flying catfish at one point.
  • Furry Reminder: Played to disturbing effect with Cody and May murdering Cutie the Elephant. As they're dragging her to her death, she gets her ear and a leg caught on things and alternates between trumpeting loudly in terror and begging for her life as they're violently torn off.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: In the PC version, the "Pirates Ahoy" section is known to cause disconnections and crashes during online play. This especially happens during the second phase of the Giant Octopus boss fight (when the dynamite ducks start coming in). Some players have reported that lowering their graphical settings helps; others have no such luck. A more consistent workaround is to set the game to local mode and use Steam's Remote Play Together feature to let the other player control the game.
  • Gameplay Roulette: The gameplay style changes very frequently, sometimes in the span of a minute. You could be playing a third-person shooter one moment then the next you're doing a difficult platformer.
  • Giant Spider: At one point in the game, Cody and May encounter two spiders that are adorable, friendly, and only somewhat bigger than them. They're both rescued from a bad situation on two separate occasions and offer the two a ride in return. Then, they and the spiders they're riding encounter another, much larger spider who is the mother of the two smaller ones and helps the main characters following the reunion. The size is justified; the spiders aren't actually huge, but only appear so because Cody and May are small relative to them.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted on multiple occasions.
    • In the workshop level, May uses a hammerhead to smash things while Cody uses a nail like an improvised javelin.
    • When the characters get powers from the costumes in the Magic Castle, Cody becomes an ice magician, while May gets a Flaming Sword knight costume.
    • A downplayed example in the Garden chapter, where May's main weapon is a sickle that she can attack enemies with, while Cody's hair becomes extendable (akin to a vine) that he can use to attack small enemies or restrain large enemies from afar. It is downplayed in the sense that Cody also gains the power to transform into certain plants (including a potato, tomato, and lime, which he transforms into against the final boss of the level, essentially turning himself into a weapon).
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: The squirrels, upon realizing that Cody and May cannot permanently die, force the two of them to go on a dangerous mission into the wasp hive. After all, it's not like the wasps can kill them.
  • Irony: The very premise is this, with Cody and May being motivated to work together to return to their original bodies so that they can divorce, as in split up.
  • It's All About Me: Cody and May must have some level of ego when they decide changing back to their regular selves (namely making her cry by breaking her beloved toy elephant) should take precedence over their daughter's personal happiness. It nearly ends up biting them in the ass in the end when their negligence towards their daughter's feelings prompts her to run away from home, believing she's the cause of their problems.
  • Kill the Cutie: Literally. Cody and May kill Cutie, Rose's beloved toy elephant, in a desperate attempt to return back to normal. Thankfully, they're seen to have found and repaired her when they do eventually change back.
  • Lighter and Softer: The premise itself is this compared to the last two games, which were a somewhat harrowing journey to save a dying parent and a gritty jailbreak drama, respectively. It's also the first game to have a completely happy ending. Despite this, there are still some really dark moments.
  • Magnetism Manipulation: In the Snow Globe level, Cody and May each get one half of a horseshoe magnet. They can use these magnets to attract anything of the opposite color or repel anything of the same color, which is key to solving most of the level's puzzles.
  • Male Might, Female Finesse: May's animations have a greater degree of finesse and control than Cody's lackadaisical movements. For example, May climbs up the elevators gears and kicks them downward while Cody slaps them. Justified in that May is a wooden doll with joints while Cody is a clay figure with more weight but no support.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: A downplayed example with May and Cody. May is noticeably much more confrontational and hotheaded compared to her husband, who more prefers to attempt to talk down whatever threat they end up facing. Also of note is that May is the breadwinner of the family with a time-demanding engineering job and is said to be “great with tools and fixing things”, while Cody is a stay-at-home Dad that dreams of being a gardener.
  • Mole in Charge: The Wasp Queen is a spy planted by the squirrels to weaken the wasps from within. Or at least, that was the plan. Unfortunately for the squirrels, their spy has gotten drunk on the power of her new position and has turned against them.
  • Mood Whiplash: The scene where May and Cody meet Cutie is adorable... and then it becomes dark within seconds after May states that Cutie has to die.
  • Never My Fault: Cody and May spend a lot of the first half of the game blaming the other whenever something goes wrong. It's learning to overcome this that's a key aspect of repairing their relationship.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Moon Baboon's voice sounds very much like an impression of Idris Elba.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Cutie the elephant warmly welcomes May and Cody into her home, even giving Cody a hug when she notices he's depressed — part of that depression is caused by the fact that they're there to Kill the Cutieliterally.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Rose's letter begins with "I'm sorry that I did this to you", seemingly in reference to the spell her parents are under. When it's revisited at the end, it's revealed Rose is actually she's blaming herself for her parent's marital problems, over things like asking for bedtime stories, and that she plans to run away.
  • Repetitive Name: Dr. Hakim, as the term "hakim" was used as the Arabic title for doctors in the Middle Ages.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Cody and May can be killed, but they'll come back to life almost immediately unless they're in the middle of a boss fight.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Everything May and Cody experience as dolls is highly symbolic of their problems in the real world, like the Vacuum Tower who was a victim of their neglect or the Green house that's become "infected". Pointedly Dr. Hakim doesn't get them back to their bodies until they put in real work fixing things in their lives.
    • May and Cody often get tools and/or abilities that reflect how they are opposites, such as May getting a hammer and Cody a nail, or May becoming a fire knight while Cody becomes an ice wizard. Inside their family cuckoo clock, Dr. Hakim applies this to the two in order to help them fix their relationship. He bestows May the ability to clone herself so she can be in two places at once, and gifts Cody the ability to control time so he has a better sense of time. Also, the further Cody and May's reconciliation progresses, the more their tools change to being complementary instead of opposites, such as the two sides of the magnet in the Snow Globe or Cody's cymbals to complement May's voice in the attic.
      • The tools and abilities, while opposites, are also things that aren't necessarily useful or healthy by themselves. The nail needs a hammer to build something, ice is melted by fire to become replenishing water, et cetera. Not necessarily an "opposites attract" message, but reinforcing the message that neither side is going to come out of this okay unless they work together towards the greater solution.
    • May and Cody destroying Rose's favorite toy elephant Cutie in order to make their own daughter cry is supposed to represent that their wish to separate goes beyond doing it for their own good or even Rose's well-being. Later in the end credits, we see Cutie has been mended, indicating they're now taking steps to mend their relationship and/or do what's best for Rose.
  • The Runaway: Cody and May endure an instance of this at the end when they find out that Rose has run away from home, believing that it was her fault they were planning to divorce.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Snowglobe Chapter.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When May takes on the squirrel chief as she and Cody attempt to make a getaway using the squirrels' airplane, the gameplay shifts to a Fighting Game format strongly resembling Street Fighter and/or Mortal Kombat, right down to having health bars with names and thumbnails, moves such as a Hadouken attack, and its own take on fatalities.
    • After the Moon Baboon tells the two that they're trapped in the pillow fort forever, Cody panics and lets out the Alien Tagline:
      Cody: In space, no one can hear you scream!
    • One part of the game where Cody and May become Ice Wizards and Fire Knights is very reminiscent to games from the Dungeon Crawler genre such as Diablo or Magicka, complete with bird perspective and life bars on the heroes' and their enemies' heads.
    • There's a stage late in the game that is very reminiscent of Rainbow Road. May states that this part reminds her of "something completely different". Even better, should one of the players fall off the track as they slide down, Dr. Hakim will hold that player in the air for a short time after they respawn in the same manner as Lakitu would, and Cody even uses Mario's catchphrase in the process.
      Cody: It's a-me, Cody!
    • You can find action figures of Leo and Vincent from A Way Out. Cody mentions that he gave them to Rose, even though they still curse.
    • While exploring one of the later chapters, you can find an entire room dedicated to referencing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time - it is small and it has a soldier doll in the corner, crates in very specific places, windows to the side, and lots of pots for the players to break. They even drop green Rupees which can then be collected. The room is basically a recreation of the Guard House.
    • After dropping a giant baking doll with a spiked rolling pin into a pool of lava, it strikes a thumbs-up gesture as it sinks.
  • Space Zone: The Space Station chapter, crossed over with Toy Time.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Infinity Train, particularly Book 1. In Infinity Train, it's Tulip who runs away from home and enters a magic world where she slowly understands the emotions caused by her parents' divorce and that it wasn't necessarily their fault that it happened. In the game, the parents (who are about to divorce) are the ones who have to come to terms with their actions on their daughter who decides that she'll run away from home, believing that the divorce is her fault.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • In the prologue, during breakfast, Rose is playing with Cutie the Elephant while her parents look on waiting to tell her about their separating. When they can't wait any longer, Cody offers to take Cutie from Rose for a moment so they can talk. The parents want to talk about the elephant in the room.
    • One of the wasp minibosses fought during the Tree chapter attacks May and Cody with a rotating sawblade or, in other words, a buzzsaw.
  • Super-Scream: May's power in the Attic chapter turns her singing into a weapon, which can either kill enemies or solver puzzles. This is one of the Personality Powers mentioned above, as the final chapter is largely about May regaining her passion for singing.
  • There Are No Therapists: Clearly there aren't any to help Rose deal with her parents' divorcing or how she's blaming herself for why her parents want to split apart, enough that she wants to run away from home. The closest thing to therapy the family has is a magic book.
  • Throwing Your Shield Always Works: Cody's weapon in the Attic chapter is a cymbal, which functions pretty much like this (being able to be used for offense, defense, and solving puzzles).
  • Time Rewind Mechanic: One of Cody's abilities enables him to rewind the course of action for certain inanimate things, such as a broken staircase, for a couple of seconds (i.e. reverse its collapse).
  • Toy Time: A large portion of the game takes place in a fantastical version of Rose's toy-filled bedroom.
  • Tree Trunk Tour: The Tree chapter.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • May and Cody have a problem with lying to the people around them to get what they want and hurting them with their lies. The one on the worst end of this is the Giant Beetle. Cody and May bribe him with getting the Queen's nectar and don't care when he gets shot down getting them to the queen. Even if he didn't die from that he definitely did when they blow the nectar themselves.
    • The squirrels ask Cody and May to destroy their enemies, the wasps, which they end up doing. How do the squirrels reward them? They turn on the main characters and go out of their way to kill them despite the fact the two just won the war for them, simply because they decided to spare the squirrels' agent that had sided with the wasps while posing as a fake wasp queen because she wanted to feel special. And not long after the squirrels open fire, the agent also proceeds to ditch the two after having just been saved from the angry wasps infuriated by the ruse.
  • Wham Line: Cody and May read Rose's letter and how she knows how to make things good again. But her solution is...
    Rose: (as she's walking down an empty road) I know I'm not a perfect daughter. I'm sorry that I don't like to brush my teeth. I'm sorry that I like to read books after bedtime. I'm sorry I don't put my toys where they should be. I know it's my fault that you want to divorce. I'll leave you alone so you can become friends again.
  • Wicked Wasps: The main enemies in the Tree chapter.
  • The Wonderland: Courtesy of Dr. Hakim’s Magic most likely, Cody and May in addition to being turned into dolls, have to go through various fantastical locales based around things around their family home. Places that would be way too big to all fit into that house of theirs without magic. For example, they opt to get to the toy castle in Rose’s room. First, they go under her bed but when they come out the other side they don’t find Rose’s small bedroom but a veritable canyon of building blocks with a ball pit spanning the entire floor, a block fort with a brief segment in a classroom, an inflatable obstacle course, a bizarre dimension inside a kaleidoscope, a land of dinosaurs, a pirate fortress on a river complete with a giant octopus, a circus, a toy village, and finally the toy castle which is clearly bigger on the inside. And before all that? A pillow fort and a space station. And all this in a single chapter!

Alternative Title(s): It Takes Two