It Takes Two to Break Me

I have cried watching movies before. It is a rare enough occurrence that I can remember the specific scenes from each movie that caused it to happen. Examples include the opening scene in Up where you see the entirety of Ellie and Carl’s relationship and the scene from Cast Away when Chuck loses Wilson. Those get me every time. However, despite video games having the ability to engage in a more personal way I have never cried while playing one. Or rather, I hadn’t until recently. A video game finally broke me and I hated it.

Spoilerinos for It Takes Two. You’ve been warned.

Mir and I have been playing It Takes Two recently and we’ve been having a lot of fun. Unlike the overwhelming majority of games on the market, It Takes Two, as the name implies, is a co-op game that requires two participants. Each level gives both players a different mechanic and puts them through challenges built around using their skills in conjunction. It’s a lot of fun and highlights how fun a dedicated multiplayer experience that doesn’t compromise on its vision can be.

The story of the game focuses on a couple, Cody and May, who have decided to divorce. This, naturally, upsets their daughter Rose who cries on a pair of dolls that look like her parents which subsequently causes their souls to become trapped in the dolls. Shortly after they come to terms with their predicament the parents decide that it was this crying that caused them to become trapped and they surmise that the only way to return to their human bodies is to make their daughter cry again. Not only did this pair of dickheads manage to do that, but they also made me cry.

May and Cody try to communicate directly with Rose, but learn that she can’t see them. However, they can influence objects in the real world which she is still capable of seeing. To this end, they hunt down Rose’s favourite toy with the intention of breaking it to make her start crying.

Now, how bad could killing an inanimate object be? Well, as May and Cody are trapped in dolls they have a slightly different perspective on reality. Instead of the mundane world, they’re exploring magic worlds that are larger than life where everything therein is alive. This means that every toy you come across appears to be sentient and is capable of talking including the one that May and Cody intend to kill. What’s worse is that the killing doesn’t happen in a cutscene. Players are forced to do it.

This is the most evil thing I have ever done in any video game.

Hearing the toy’s terrified screams for help as you and your co-op partner drag it over to the ledge while tearing it to pieces broke me. It wasn’t just the screams of terror, it was that I had to be the one to do the deed. It Takes Two wouldn’t just let it happen in a cutscene. The only way forward was through pushing this terrified creature off the ledge as it begged for its life. And I did it. I was complicit in its demise.

What’s worse is May and Cody’s insidious motivation for doing it. These selfish assholes caused their young daughter to cry when she saw her favourite toy torn into several pieces all so they could be returned to their bodies and carry on with their lives. What really drives this home is how they begin cheering and dancing in her tears as Rose starts balling her eyes out. Divorces are already hard on the affected kids and these two goombas decide that causing their daughter more emotional pain is a price worth paying to be returned to their bodies.

Fuck these assholes.

Thinking back on the event I can’t quite figure out why it was so affecting. Anyone who has tuned into my Friday streams has seen me violently murder entire populations of creatures in Monster Hunter while not thinking much of it. Further, even Va-11 Hall-A, a rare game that I actually connected with on an emotional level, never quite brought me to the point of tears during its saddest moments. Maybe it was just the sum total of the terrified screams, the child crying, and being forced to do it against my wishes that caused me to finally break down.

One thing I do know is that I don’t want to experience that ever again.

I don’t normally end articles off with questions, but was there ever a time that a game made you cry? Was your experience as miserable as mine? Let me know in the comments below, or write a full length blog post and tag me so I can come read your response.

16 thoughts on “It Takes Two to Break Me

  1. When Kat and I played it, she had to put the controller down and just sob for a while. It is a heart breaking scene since both players have to do it and their is no way around it. No one wants to see a child suffer and the fact that you are responsible for it just makes it worse.

    But yeah, fuck those two. Divorce is too good for them after that point.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I don’t cry often in games so similar to your comment about movies, the moments really stick out. I cried at the end of Okami, which has a really touching story about spirituality and I finished it at a time when my own spiritual journey was real weird. And while I never quite full-on cried during Spiritfarer, I teared up constantly and then cried when I sat down and wrote out my thoughts on the game’s themes.

    As for It Takes Two, this moment was horrific and this poor girl absolutely deserves better parents. But kudos for the devs for making this scene hit as hard as it does!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess it was actually taking a moment to reflect on the themes of the game without the gameplay as a distraction, if that makes sense. Like yes during the departure of a spirit, there was sad dialogue and beautiful music that stirred my soul, but I was also thinking about what I needed to do next with the rare item I was about to get and whether that would unlock any new islands, etc. Writing about it was an opportunity to really dwell on the themes, how they applied to my life specifically, and to sit in that instead of just moving on to the next in-game task.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. And that, my friends, is taking full advantage of video games’ interactivity. Well done, devs!

    I could go on about that topic for a while in a big-ass comment, but I won’t. But I could…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow, yeah, that’s not for me. Sounds extremely effective though. I can respect that kind of creativity in storytelling and all that, especially when it uses those aspects that are unique to games.

    I don’t remember a time I’ve ever broken down crying at a game or at any piece of art. I’m not much of a crier in general, though this probably says more about how bottled up I am than anything else. I have gotten misty at a few games, though, like one old VN that involves a reunion between a mother and her kids after many hours of insane time-traveling science fiction weirdness. Also the projection scene in Planetarian. I didn’t have that reaction to Va-11 Hall-A either, but I can see how someone easily would.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair enough.

      Honestly there are times where I’ve had similar thoughts to those that you expressed, but more recently that seems to have changed. Mir might be softening me up a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

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