In long-term relationships, it’s always the little things. Chore lists. Texts. “I do not know, what do you want for dinner?” Combat material. At the same time, love is destructive of the scale. Minor violations are metonymic, stand-ins for the real problems: gendered housework expectations; your partner stumbles home at midnight from God knows which club; how damn indecisive they are about everything.
In the new collaboration game It requires two, May and her husband Cody, who has been turned into tiny dolls, crawl through the pillowcase she built for her daughter Rose. There are not two dining chairs with a carpeted roof. It̵
Cody forbids: “Rose calls it ‘Mommy’s room,’ you know, like in ‘space’. “May says she did not know. “Because you always work,” Cody replies. As they venture deeper, more space-themed toys emerge: Discovery Store-style plasma balls, a hanging solar system mobile. The background suddenly shifts from the “Mom room” to the galactic room. Above and below the glass floor is infinite. The staging space for their relationship has grown from a petri dish to the cosmos.
It requires two is an extraordinary game. First and foremost, it’s unusually fun, satisfying and innovative – perhaps clearing the high line Portal 2 set for co-op games. Lovely details, from 90s dental shop toys to anthropomorphic vacuum cleaners, fill every level. Each and every one of the endless stream of new game loops is felt good, never forced or unmanageable. The biggest success, however, is the perfect synergy between plot and play. It can only be played by two people, either online or together in the same room. Pushing the sad reality aside that few AAA video games take love as a theme, It requires two do more than be about love. “We use a lot of metaphors through mechanics,” says Josef Fares, founder of It requires two develops Hazelight Studios.
As Cody and May battle through maximized parts of the home, such as the squirrel-driven military base that occupies their tree, they continually receive complementary and contrasting abilities – like a gun full of flammable nectar and a match-shooter. And so if Cody does not paint the wasp nest with nectar, May cannot explode it, and none of them can continue. “For some narrative experiences, we should include mechanics as part of the storytelling,” says Fares. A magical, Puss-in-Boots-expressed relationship therapy book coaches the couple together (and opposes them) and shouts co-lab-or-ation! every chance he gets.
Love is the perfect plot car for the sensational selection of mechanics It requires two offer. The structure of the game depends on a strong action-adventure foundation with good feel basics like jumping and dashing. The The book of love transports Cody and May into different surroundings or objects from the couple’s life, such as the shed or a snowball they got on a ski trip, where fast-paced introductions to new mechanics avert boredom or monotony. Short challenges appear every now and then with game loops lifted from Gauntlet, Dance Dance Revolution, Even Street Fighter. Like ambitious long-term relationships, it is a satisfying mix of old and new, tradition and novelty, expected and unexpected.
But Cody and May are not in a successful long-term relationship. They are getting divorced. And throughout the game, the couple constantly sniffs at each other and picks up small things that irritate them, small needles that have cut deep rashes. The neglected toolbox where May used to do his hobbies is factory size. The immeasurable problem of attraction is condensed into two halves of a magnet. The zooming in and out of the problems in May and Cody’s marriage makes for a funhouse of the deep wounds and a war story about the worldly.