The video game industry is full of single-player titles of great depth, such as God of the war and Forbidden Horizon West; as well as competitive multiplayer titles, such as Call of Duty: Warzone and Battlefield 2042. Games where it is essential to collaborate with friends are not very common anymore, so Hazelight Studios decided to focus on this type of game with Output and It takes two.
Both Output and It takes two were hugely successful, showing just how much cooperative games still have to offer the industry. Some have criticized the choice not to implement single-player options, but the success of these games proves that cooperative games don’t need a single player to take off.
A Way Out’s co-op explained
In Output, players embody two prisoners, Vincent Moretti and Leo Caruso, who do everything to escape from prison. Vincent plans to escape by creating a hole behind his toilet in his cell, but needs Leo to retrieve a chisel that can allow him to cut the bars. Once they escape, Leo reveals that a former partner Harvey sold him out after a diamond theft; then Vincent, in turn, reveals that Harvey killed his brother because he refused to use their bank to launder his money.
Vincent and Leo follow in the footsteps of Ray, Harvey’s collaborator, then prepare for the mission by buying weapons and ammunition and leaving for Mexico. After the two are captured by the police, Vincent reveals he is an undercover cop, and players will be able to witness two different endings depending on who manages to kill the other first.
The whole adventure can only be played in multiplayer, online and locally. The intention of the developers was to create a game in which players collaborate to complete the adventure, as also evidenced by the story created by Hazelight Studios. In order for Vincent and Leo to escape from prison, players must work together and be on the same page.
Josef Fares said single player games are too long and some may have preferred to play Output solo, the story the team wanted to tell is perfect in the company of a friend. Most of the actions players must take to escape would have been impossible had they tried to do so. While the developers could have made the game with an NPC helping the player, that would have dulled the spirit of the game.
It takes two-way cooperation explained
In It takes two, players control Cody and May, divorcing parents. Their distracted daughter starts playing with dolls that look like her parents, and they get trapped inside the dolls. It takes two captures what a modern family looks like, and to return to human form, Cody and May will have to join their daughter, Rose.
While the two are more focused on reaching Rose, the magical self-help book Dr. Hakim interferes with therapeutic measures that aim to get the two to collaborate. As they travel around their house, they begin to relive happy times while playing several competitive mini-games. Meanwhile, Rose decides to run away from home thinking it will help her parents mend their relationship.
Hazelight Studios used the same cooperative formula as with Outputand the choice turned out to be successful, because It takes two won Game of the Year at the 2021 Game Awards. Having a great feeling with those who decide to take on this experience is crucial, as many sections of the game have been explicitly designed for collaboration between the two players. The plot of It takes two is perfect to be played with a partner, as the story centers on peace between a couple.
Hazelight founder Josef Fares aims to tell stories that players can only experience in the company of others, not in competition but in collaboration. This is the idea behind Output, It takes two, and probably all future Hazelight games. Hopefully other studios take notice and realize that a strong co-op adventure doesn’t necessarily need single-player options to succeed.
Output is available now for PC, PS4 and Xbox One.
It takes two is now available for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S.
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