Hazelight Studios’ early 2021 asymmetric cooperative title It Takes Two makes no secret as to what inspired its gameplay. Entire swathes of the run time are lovingly devoted to referencing everything from fighters like Mortal Kombat to dungeon crawlers like Diablo. But these are the obvious “secrets.”
You see, It Takes Two is littered with easter eggs and story beats that the player can simply stroll past without ever even noticing. While we seriously doubt that this is a metaphor for how easy it is to let a relationship fall apart (hey, that’s what the game is about), it doesn’t hurt to give the developers credit where credit is due. So, in case you blasted through your It Takes Two adventure, here are some of the threads you might have missed.
For those who haven’t played, beware; spoilers ahead!
5 Competitive Bonding For A Problematic Couple
Fans of Hazelight Studios’ last game, A Way Out, will remember that convicts/besties Frank and Leo could simply step away from the main action of the story every now and then to savor the important things, like playing basketball and arm wrestling. A little healthy competition never hurt anybody, right?
Well, Cody and May can step away from their magical marital issues to do the same thing, except it carries a different story weight to it when the characters in question are already struggling to be in the same room, let alone play shuffleboard together. Fortunately, though, interacting with these games shows a different side to these two. It becomes endearingly clear that Cody and May bond over the competition in, well, maybe not a healthy way, considering all the dying (relax, it’s never permanent), but a cute one.
There are twenty-five of these minigames spread throughout the levels, and you can totally ignore them if you want to…. but why would you?
4 Breaking Stuff Is Totally Therapy. Right?
Possibly the most obtuse easter egg in the game is the near one-to-one recreation of the Hylian guardhouse from The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time. It’s hidden inside the Cuckoo Clock level, near the Gates Of Time (listen, we get the wordplay), and finding it gives you an equally obtuse achievement, called “Force Triangulated.” Everyone enjoys a nod to one of the most lauded games of all time, we certainly do, it only becomes odd when Cody and May relish it… for slightly different reasons.
It’s a running joke in the video game community that Link, the protagonist of The Legend Of Zelda series, has something of a breaking and entering habit - with a dramatic emphasis on the “breaking” part. So it’s clearly a surface level joke when Cody and May take joy in shattering the pots in the hidden room, but when you think about it for a second, their verbal acknowledgment of how good it feels to break things becomes, well, a bit sinister in the context of It Takes Two.
If this is how they solve their emotional issues, maybe a divorce was always looming on the horizon.
3 Everyone Loves A Way Out
In a move that surprised no one whatsoever, Hazelight Studios added a room into It Takes Two where a certain duo from a certain game can be spotted. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, hidden deep inside the Pillow Fort is a set of action figures that are none other than Frank and Leo, the playable characters from A Way Out. They stand upon plastic plinths, and should you press the buttons at their feet, provide some comical banter.
Sure, this is cool - after all, A Way Out was an exceptional game, but the bit that sparks our interest is when Cody first spots them, he exclaims that they’re from one of his favorite video games. From a lore standpoint, does that mean that Hazelight Studios exist inside of the game that they created? Or does A Way Out have a fictional creator inside It Takes Two? Even more interestingly, if Cody’s preferences are affecting the magical world that they’re trapped in, how much of what they suffer through (besides the obvious) is really just ironically self-inflicted?
While we may be stumbling face-first into the literal point of the game, it’s a lot easier to blame it all on that awful book, Dr. Hakim.
2 Taking A Spa Day Is Always Worth It
It’s genuinely rare and rarely genuine when there’s a moment in a game that has no functional value; that is to say, there’s no extra gameplay, no extra story, nothing, it’s just there, and somehow, it’s still worth playing through. That’s how we feel about the optional Greenhouse Spa that Cody and May can find themselves in if the player is feeling generous. It’s in the garden level, and pretty clearly labeled, so while it’s not required, it’s pretty hard to miss.
Once inside, our grumpy duo gets the chance to unwind while a slew of little bugs tends to their every need. There’s a bug-sized shower fashioned from a garden hose nozzle, and a bug-sized massage table that’s basically just a flat rock, and even a little meditation room (it's a candle holder). It’s a quiet moment that allows these two people who are hurting deeply to just relax, and for the player to giggle while a centipede turns into a massage chair.
Granted, the damage these two are doing to their daughter is… substantial, so it can be marginally more difficult to immerse yourself in their peace, but hey, everyone needs a little R&R.
1 At The End Of It All Is... What, Exactly?
The entire premise demands that players, and by extension, Cody and May, cooperate to solve the challenges set forth by their demonic marriage counselor, so it follows naturally that the big question is whether or not the rocky couple will actually get divorced. It’s literally the heart of the game. The answer is… maybe?
Although It Takes Two is not a short game by any means, it ends long before that question is definitively answered. The levels are designed to force the two characters to take a hard, reflective look at their best and worst moments together as a couple. Cody and May reminisce and vent and communicate out in the open for what’s possibly the first time in years, but it never comes to a head.
We think that the answer is up to you. There’s enough evidence, especially if you sift through all of the hidden rooms and easter eggs, to defend a stance for either outcome. Maybe that’s not the most satisfying ending, but it’s the one we have, and if there’s anything It Takes Two truly hammers home is that we have to make the best of what we have.
For this most auspicious of occasions, let's put the loot back in this looter shooter.