It Takes Two hands-on: Impeccable co-op platforming—on mute, at least

The team at Swedish game studio Hazelight has spent nearly a decade making cooperative adventure games—and doubling down on the “co-op” tag by requiring two players for their games to work. But where 2013’s Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons offered a refreshing morsel of co-op adventuring, 2018’s A Way Out buried its most clever moments in an overwrought story and slow mechanics.

Trailers for the company’s next game, March 26’s It Takes Two (published by EA), got my hopes up in both of those critical categories. The footage seemed to turn a new Hazelight storytelling page in terms of a “rom-com” plot, while its always-cooperative gameplay looked bouncier and more action-packed. I optimistically attended an online preview event last week to see what the fuss might be about, which allowed me to install and test the game’s first two hours on my PC (and link up with Ars Technica’s Kyle Orland as an online co-op partner).

In the game’s first two hours, we discovered a real surprise: EA’s best-controlling 3D platformer since 2007’s The Simpsons, and a remarkably fun co-op spin on the genre in terms of solving puzzles and battling enemies with asymmetrical, often-changing abilities. What wasn’t surprising, sadly, is Hazelight’s persisting shoddiness at telling a story worth investing in.

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