It Takes Two is Josef Fares’ latest effort to showcase the power of co-op gaming

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Josef Fares has strong opinions. The director of Hazelight Studio – whose latest co-op game, It takes two, is out today – shot into the spotlight at The Game Awards in 2017 with an off-the-cuff, passionate speech about the joys of interactive video games that culminated in his meme-worthy “Fuck the Oscars!” line

Years later, Fares (who, ironically, started out as a filmmaker) is still stuck to his pro-game stance. “Look, my background is a film maker. The whole thing with ‘fuck the Oscars’ was actually quite special, ”he says The edge“First, you have to remember that when I was there on set, everyone was talking, ‘Oh this is like the Oscars, it’s like the Oscars.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck the Oscars!’ because I actually said, “Fuck the Oscars – because we should be celebrating gaming now.” It’s not that I have anything personal about the Oscars. ”

It takes two is Fares’ third game to follow Brothers: A story of two sons and A way outHazelight’s latest game takes a similar approach A way out, in particular: it is an exclusive co-op game that you cannot experience at all unless you are willing to play with a friend or partner (next to you on a couch or over the internet). According to Fares, the studio never even considered adding an AI companion.

“They were designed that way from the start, so you have to communicate with someone,” he says. “It is not possible to play with any player [person]It is not a matchmaking game where you are just randomly connected. If you want to play with someone you don’t know at all, you have to be able to talk because if you don’t talk, you can’t make progress. “

Communication is a suitable foundation for this It takes two, in which a man and woman are about to divorce, who are then magically transformed into a pair of Pixar-esque puppets and forced to work out their differences by a magical audiobook.

A Way Out offered a thematically engaging story from a crime novel that was abandoned by boring gameplay that didn’t really do much to take advantage of the game’s cooperative nature. It takes two the script turns around: it offers a bizarre, almost nonsensical story that is lifted by clever cooperative mechanics. Each of the two characters tends to split their skills across levels. For example, an early level gives players a few weapons – one character can fire juice, while the other ignites it.

The more diverse gameplay is no accident. “We’ve gotten better at finding cold co-op mechanics that can be combined,” says Fares. ‘So you really need cooperation. I also talked a lot about getting married to the story and the gameplay … we tried to link the skills to the character as well. With May, for example – it’s her toolbox, so she’s got the hammer. “

However, the result is that It takes two is a much more complex game than A way outFor starters, it’s a platformer. And although it doesn’t require the kind of pixel perfect skills like that Celeste or Spelunky, it’s a harder game to get into than the relatively easy one A way outAdd in the (admittedly more interesting) new mechanics that change from level to level, and the game runs the risk of overwhelming newer or less experienced players.

Still, the resulting game is unique, despite the uneven narration. As Fares rightly points out, hardly anyone else makes these kinds of games. “Of course there are co-op games that include your campaign and your co-op campaign add-on and so on, but none of them are really designing, writing everything from scratch like we do at Hazelight.”

“I think that opens up … both creative, but also the dynamics between the characters you play, that you use different skills, how you can work together and also what happens on the couch,” said Fares. “I think there are so many things to discover.” He sees the experience as comparable to watching a movie or TV show: it is something you do together. “So why not enjoy a story in a game together?”

And it’s that level of interaction that sets games apart from Fares of film. “The whole idea is understanding that creating the interactive experience [for a game is] completely different from a passive experience as a film, ”he says. “So I sometimes hear when they talk about ‘We should attract more film people [to make games]Of course we can be inspired by how they tell stories and so on, but we have to find our own way to tell stories interactively. “

And while Fares won’t give too much detail on what Hazelight’s next project will look like or whether it’s going to be a co-op experience again, he certainly thinks there’s more room for other developers to get involved – and not just with optional co-op experiences. . , such as survival games or shooters such as Borderlands or Halo

“We should have our stories for one player; I like that one. But I think there is a market here, and I think people really like these kinds of games, you know. To play something with someone you love or a friend or a dad or a mom or whatever – just experience something together and not just a shooting game, you know what I mean? ”

It takes two is now available for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X / S.