Games of the week – It Takes Two, Balan Wonderworld, Outriders and Hitchhiker
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It Takes Two
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, PC
Genre: Co-op platformer
Age rating: 12+
A top-notch pint-sized adventure
It Takes Two feels like something straight out of a Pixar movie – for all the right reasons. It is a couch co-op, that can also be played with another online (ideal in the current times), of a mother and father who are transformed into mini dolls after announcing to their daughter that they plan to divorce. While an all-too familiar occurrence in real life, the battles of maintaining a marriage is something rarely made so central in gaming, and it works well. Dr Hakim sets you on a series of dazzling adventures to undo the spell. The sheer variety and depth of these challenges are the real star here. Publisher EA has also added a Friend’s Pass feature, meaning you can invite someone else to play the game with you without them having to buy it.
Skip to the end: A beautiful mix of spellbinding adventures, brought to life with a touching story, eye-catching graphics and great co-operability.
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Stadia, PC
Genre: Co-op shooter
Price: £59.99 (or free with Xbox Game Pass)
Age rating: 18+
Outriders is for those who thrive on intense gunplay, with a co-op-focused, sci-fi shooter experience. Humankind has left Earth to settle on Enoch, but little do they know danger is lurking. Waking up from cryostasis many years later, it is up to you to find a way for humans to survive on this hostile planet. The constant combat is exhilarating, alongside a vast array of twisted weaponry to keep you hooked. Despite an interesting lead into the story, it leaves more to be desired as you carry on. The fact you need to always be online to play will not be ideal for everyone too.
Skip to the end: Action packed breath-taking co-op combat stands strong alongside a less impressive story development.
Platform: Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, PC
Age rating: 7+
A maestro with no direction
Balan Wonderworld feels 20 years too late. The higgledy-piggledy mix of uninspiring theatre-themed adventures, led by maestro Balan, was quite simply boring. There was nothing really enjoyable about endlessly collecting different abilities and tokens from various worlds by the protagonists Emma and Leo. There’s no sense of direction, or anything to really encourage you to carry on. Despite being colourful and family-friendly, its attempt to create wonderous worlds does not really take off. The music is annoyingly repetitive too.
Skip to the end: There is little good to say about this misguided 3D platformer. We kept hoping for something interesting, but it never materialised.
Price: £4.99 per month with Apple Arcade
Age rating: 12+
Without a hitch
Who’d have thought hitchhiking could form the basis for a game? And with a plot to boot. With no memory or obvious destination, it is up to you to hitch a ride from a variety of drivers and make sense of what has happened, by gathering clues along your first person journey. Have a nose around the person’s vehicle and a chat with those you encounter along the way, as you start to piece together the truth. For a short mobile adventure, Hitchhiker is well thought out, with really good narration and vocal talent, interaction and puzzles. Though we were a tad disappointed with the ending.
Skip to the end: A unique attempt at a mystery puzzle-based game that works surprisingly well.