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It Takes Two trailer showcases bizarre co-op gameplay and a shouting book named Dr. Hakim

It Takes Two, the next project from Hazelight Studios, is in some ways similar to its previous game, A Way Out. But where that was a gritty co-op action-adventure about guys busting out of jail, It Takes Two, as it was described when it was unveiled in June, is a story about a young girl who struggles to come to terms with her parents' separation by creating dolls that, through some unknown magic, she can use to control them and their emotions.

It sounded like a fairly straightforward tear-jerker about love and loss—"Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was a fantastic journey with an emotional gut punch, and It Takes Two looks like it could deliver a similar wallop," Steven wrote at the time—but a gameplay trailer that aired during The Game Awards tonight paints just a little bit of a different picture. 

It turns out that the dolls are the parents, Cody and May, and they're being forced to run a deadly gauntlet by a mustachioed magic book named Dr. Hakim. The stakes are simple: "Want to change back?" the book screams at the claymation couple. "Then you need to fix your relationship!"

And that, for some reason, involves a bizarre co-op obstacle course that Hazelight described as "a metaphorical merging of gameplay and narrative that pushes the boundaries of interactive storytelling." That includes a sort of reverse-Whack-a-Mole in which our unhappy couple tries to avoid being pancaked by some sort of angry spatula machine, what appears to be a Towers of Hanoi puzzle on a retro gaming console, some shooting, some platforming, and a nice dose of slapstick and visual comedy.

"This is a story of collaboration!" the book yells as Cody and May flee from a giant angry mandrill in an orange onesie, and that's clearly reflected throughout the trailer. Hazelight said each level in It Takes Two features "connected character abilities," and that the game as a whole is "built purely for two" with support for both local and online co-op play.

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It Takes Two

(Image credit: Hazelight Studios)
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It Takes Two

(Image credit: Hazelight Studios)
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It Takes Two

(Image credit: Hazelight Studios)

I have a great appreciation for heartfelt stories, but this trailer really comes as a nice surprise because it looks like such silly fun. There's definitely a narrative here—Hazelight described It Takes Two as "a lighthearted and touching story of the challenges in getting along"—but there's also at least one vomit gag, a cartoon ejection seat, and of course the book that screams like a man. It's something I'd expect out of Double Fine, which is not intended as a slight toward Hazelight in any way—just that after Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and then A Way Out, a slapstick romp is not what I anticipated.

Hazelight also provided a release date: It Takes Two is set to come to PC on March 26, 2021, on Origin and Steam.