Josef Fares is a passionate man. The filmmaker-turned-game-developer’s first sport, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, is a exceptional fable in regards to the energy of household. While that sport’s high quality spoke for itself, Fares took to the stage for follow-up A Way Out, memorably taking on Geoff Keighley’s 2017 Game Awards broadcast by addressing the digicam and saying, partially, ‘F— the Oscars!” It was a profane moment, to be sure, but it also showed Fares’ exuberance and pure aptitude for the outrageous. Hazelight Studios’ upcoming mission, It Takes Two, tackles the oddly underrepresented topic of affection. And after speaking to Fares in regards to the co-op journey, it’s clear that he has rather a lot to say about, effectively, every little thing.
“Video games are not always about fun; that’s a misconception that many people say, ‘Is this fun?’” Fares says. “The best moments of my life in video games haven’t been about ‘fun.’” The sport director and Hazelight founder cites experiences like Journey or moments from the opening sequence in The Last of Us to underscore his level. His personal sport, Brothers, memorably ends with a strong second that clearly isn’t meant to be enjoyable. “Some parts of gaming are fun, but I would say that more, depending on the scene, it should be engaging.”
That’s all to say that It Takes Two begins at a spot that’s decidedly unfun: the specter of divorce. Cody and May are a married couple who’ve fallen out of affection. Nothing particularly heavy has occurred, Fares says, however the grind of every day life has worn them down, they usually’ve determined that it is likely to be greatest to go their separate methods. Their younger daughter, Rose, shouldn’t be a fan of the concept.
“She created these two small dolls and she tries, as kids do, to talk to them and try to affect them somehow, and they magically transform into these dolls in this fantasy world,” Fares says. From there, it turns into a journey of discovery, each in how the couple rediscovers what initially introduced them collectively, in addition to attempting to rediscover how on earth to get again into their common our bodies. They’re joined by an anthropomorphic Book of Love, who acts as a kind of relationship guru. It’s a cute setup, however Fares and his workforce at Hazelight are utilizing it as a automobile for pushing narrative and gameplay as shut as they’ll probably get.
Watch the It Takes Two trailer, and it’s exhausting to not get whiplash. It introduces the story conceit, after which flashes a string of gameplay clips collectively at a frantic tempo. That sort of modifying model is comparatively commonplace in sport trailers, however it could be nearer to It Takes Two’s actuality than in a lot of its contemporaries. Fares acknowledges the significance of novelty and shock in video games, and it’s one thing that Hazelight is leaning into in a giant approach.
“Because we’re doing a narrative game, every situation has to reflect what goes on in the game,” he says. “So, if the character needs something, it should reflect the gameplay as well. I think in narrative games especially, repetitiveness is super dangerous. Once you have that, you get the feeling sometimes that designers and writers are doing two different games, if you know what I mean.”
He takes a slight detour, saying that he’s not speaking about video games that depend on repetition, reminiscent of ones the place the aim is to stage up and improve your character. That’s one other dialogue, he says, earlier than sticking in a fast jab: “Because for me, just changing colors and numbers on enemies is just a fake way … I think in 10 years hopefully nobody will do this, just having numbers going up, up, up, up, up.”
Fares believes that for a story sport to be actually profitable, there needs to be a robust relationship between the story and what gamers are doing at any given second. “Whatever the character is going through, it should reflect the gameplay as well,” he says. “It’s going to be insanely varied. I think we’re going to break some kind of world record in the amount of mechanics that we have.”
The actuality of budgets and timelines makes it difficult to completely keep away from repetition, however Hazelight’s earlier work has proven their willingness to search out artistic options. In A Way Out, as an illustration, gamers encounter a number of obstacles whereas attempting to cooperatively escape from a jail. Rather than have them retrace their steps again each time they run right into a locked grate, out-of-reach hall, or no matter, Fares thought it was vital to respect gamers’ time and have the sequences that introduce an issue transition to the problem-solving section, as may occur in a film. That’s one method to keep away from repetition. Another is to gleefully overwhelm gamers with the sheer quantity of stuff they’ll do.
“For instance, we have a level where they need to work on their attraction; as a couple, they’ve lost their attraction,” Fares says. “And that metaphor for attraction is actually a piece of magnet that we break in two so they have sort of a magnetic attraction to each other. And we have another section where they feel like they don’t give each other enough time, as can happen in a relationship.” In that part, Cody can quickly management time, and May – considering she’s unfold too skinny in her life – could make copies of herself. “We tried to marry those two, so they’re connected to their emotional states as well. That’s the way we’re pushing for this game.”
The aim, Fares says, isn’t to introduce mechanics and methods that gamers are anticipated to completely decide to and grasp over hours. Instead, his workforce needs to ship new concepts and ideas shortly, by having Cody and May (and gamers) remedy the issues they face on their journey from their shed by the varied rooms all through their dwelling. That journey contains fantastical detours, reminiscent of a visit right into a snow globe that they bought collectively on a trip. In that occasion, Fares says there’s nearly like a metropolis inside that tumbler dome. That sensation of by no means figuring out what’s coming subsequent makes for a sport that Fares says folks gained’t be capable to put down. “I’m really telling you, that’s a guarantee. I know I sound very cocky all the time, but that’s a guarantee. It’s very important for a narrative game.”
Fares needs folks to get along with a good friend or associate and luxuriate in It Takes Two – it could possibly’t be performed solo, in any case. But he additionally needs them to complete the sport. “I do know folks got here as much as me and mentioned, ‘Wow it’s improbable that 51 p.c of gamers in A Way Out completed the sport,’ they usually informed me that that’s an especially excessive proportion quantity, however truly it saddens me. That implies that 49 p.c of individuals didn’t end it. It’s not one thing I needs to be glad about.
“Every journalist right now needs to stop writing replayabilty, because we need to fix the problem that people are not even finishing our games. People are not even finishing the games. Listen to how sick this is: It’s so sick that the developers and publishers are literally focusing on the first piece of the game, because they know that’s what people will play. This is a mass psychosis going on!”
Hazelight’s deal with selection and telling an attractive story that ties into what gamers are doing is the studio’s approach of attempting to hook gamers alongside by to the closing credit. It’s not delivering open worlds (“I call them ‘open-repetition games,’” Fares jokes), however as an alternative creating extremely different and extra directed linear experiences.
It’s a guess that Fares is, characteristically, extraordinarily assured in. Early in our dialog, he makes a press release that’s impressively daring: “That’s another thing that I can guarantee you with It Takes Two: It’s impossible, and quote me on this, to get tired of this game. You can put this as the headline. I can literally give 1,000 bucks to anyone who says, ‘Oh, I’m tired of this game now because it doesn’t surprise me.’ One thousand bucks! I guarantee. I’ll give it to everyone who gets tired. But they have to be honest about it.”
Fares’ bombastic confidence is equal components refreshing and entertaining. But it’s clearly coming from a honest place. In an business the place focus testing can usually shave the perimeters off a artistic enterprise till it’s an inoffensive sphere, Hazelight is aiming to carry agency in its concepts and inform the tales it needs to inform – whether or not about jail breaks or romantic breakups.
“We do the game we want to do, and then when we take [the] game [to] players to test it, we want them to like the game we’re doing, not adjust the game for what they want,” Fares says. “It’s different. I think that’s very important instead of adjusting the game for the player. They should understand our game, and not the opposite. I guarantee people will love this. For sure. I have no doubt at all. If people don’t like this game, then I don’t know what to do. It would be nuts. I wouldn’t accept it. It’s unacceptable! Then everybody is wrong!” He punctuates the final sentence with an infectious chortle.
It’s exhausting to not get swept up into Fares’ worldview. He’s charismatic and charming, capable of say provocative issues with out sounding like an entire jackass. In an business the place so many builders seemingly aspire to be movie administrators, Fares involves video games from the opposite path. After spending a decade making function movies in Sweden, he’s turned his artistic vitality towards the medium he loves. Fares says It Takes Two was impressed by a lifetime of peering at video games from the skin.
“It’s almost like a love letter for my love of gaming – especially Nintendo; I’m a big Nintendo fan,” he says. “But it’s time for Nintendo to get some competition.” With that, he cracks himself up utterly, trying round for a number of seconds, maybe momentarily taken without warning by his personal good-natured hubris.