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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
On the surface, the game has a very positive message about collaboration, forgiveness, and love. In fact, the entire game is built on teamwork to accomplish a greater goal. But dialogue also implies divorce should never be an option, which isn't realistic or fair in real life, and could validate a child's immature feelings toward the family unit and what's best for all parties in the long run.
Positive Role Models
Cody and May, husband and wife in the game, must work together to get back to their real bodies, before Rose, the daughter, realizes something very strange is happening. Underlying question is whether Cody and May will go through with their divorce when they return to real life. They bicker but seem like caring parents and good people overall. But they do perform some questionable acts, like torturing Rose's toy elephant, Cutie, who begs for its life, in order to make Rose cry magical tears to aid their quest. Perpetuates real-world stereotypes, like saying "that pretentious French vacuum," or a Spanish-accented book, Dr. Hakim, who gyrates his hips, thrusts them, and makes arm gestures that also imply lovemaking.
Ease of Play
This is a co-op only game, played on the same television or over the internet. Controls are quite intuitive and are explained through mandatory tutorial at start of game. Gamers can't die: The parents are transformed into tiny dolls that magically reappear if killed. Sometimes you must repeat a small portion of the level to get back to the point of death.
Violence & Scariness
Animated violence and blood. While it's clearly fantastical -- such as fighting swarms of bees inside of a tree -- there are some violent scenes, like getting impaled by a nail through the abdomen, getting stabbed by wasps, shooting missiles at squirrels, tossing a toy elephant (that's pleading for its life) off a ledge, forcing a vacuum cleaner's suctioning "arms" (hoses) to suck out its eyeballs.
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Some profanity, such as "goddammit!" and "crap!" Subtle sexual innuendo, like telling a vacuum cleaner boss character to "Suck on this!"
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Products & Purchases
Some pop culture references, tied to memes or TV commercials, but not with intent to market or sell anything.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that It Takes Two is a cooperative adventure game available for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows PCs. Initially, the game may seem innocent. After all, it's a cartoon adventure about divorcing parents and a child's wish for them to remain together. But there are some disturbing scenes that include animated violence, like being impaled by a nail or killing animals with explosives. You'll also kick a beloved toy elephant off a cliff in order to make your daughter cry (magical tears), and force a vacuum cleaner's pair of suctioning arms (hoses) into its own eyes. The game also has profanity (e.g., "goddammit!" and "crap!") and sexual innuendoes like "Suck on this!" There are some cultural stereotypes associated with French people (pretentiousness) and people from Spain or Italy (sexuality). There's a little comic mischief as well, such as the husband's underwear used to fly like a plane, or a robot "vomiting" trash.
Is It Any Good?
The co-op gameplay is fun, clever, and accessible, but the mature themes and annoying story hold this adventure back from shining. It Takes Two's cooperative mechanics are skillfully designed and competently executed, with variety in the gameplay and tight, responsive controls. While couch or online co-op is mandatory (there is no single-player option, such as playing with the game's artificial intelligence), the second person you're playing with online does not need to pay for the game, which is great. So what's wrong with this title? Well, the story is about a divorcing couple. How fun do you think it is to hear a husband and wife bicker? It's not. And you can't skip through the cutscenes, which is clearly done to remind you what the story is all about. At times there's some humor in their situation, and some warm moments of reconciliation. But most of the time it's uncomfortable to watch, and repetitive in the quarreling (often about the spouse forgetting to do something).
Dr. Hakim, the book that guides you through much of your work, also proves cringeworthy and annoying whenever he appears into a scene with some words of wisdom. But there's an implication that divorce should be avoided at all costs and could be averted if only the two work together (like dated '80s and '90s movies on this topic). That message could set unrealistic expectations for younger players. Even experts agree divorce could be a healthier choice for the couple and children, in the long run, but this game seems to suggest otherwise. Also upsetting are some scenes that seem overly sadistic, like kicking a stuff animal elephant ("Cutie") over a ledge and to its death so that you can make your daughter cry (in the hopes it reverses the spell), which seems unnecessarily cruel. Those who enjoy co-op games will find this 10-hour adventure a smart pick. But the story, dialogue, and some characters (namely, Dr. Hakim) mar the overall experience.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.