Over the past couple console generations there have been a few games that I’ve enjoyed that paired a boy with some kind of beast. Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom and The Last Guardian are two that come to my mind so when I saw that indie developer Spiral House and Maximum Games were coming up with their own idea it peaked my interest. That game is Troll and I and it takes you to Scandinavia during the second World War.
The basic premise of the game is a rich man enlists the services of a hunter to hunt down and bring him a troll thought to not exist. He’ll take him dead or alive but offers more money to the hunter for an alive troll. The game then cuts to the main character you play as which is a young boy named Otto who lives in a small forest village with his mom. You are headed out to hunt for boars for the day but when you return you find your village burned and under attack from the hunters who are after the troll. Otto manages to escape and ultimately ends up meeting and befriending the troll. Together you have to make it back to your village while fighting the hunters and other evil things known as Ahky. It’s a basic story that unfortunately doesn’t do itself any favors due to it’s lackluster presentation and other problems. The visuals in the game look like an early PS3 game at best and the art style isn’t great either. The Troll itself also looks goofy and sure doesn’t look very intimidating. There are framerate issues and the game just doesn’t feel very smooth at all. Pretty boring looking environments and a constant pop in due to the limited draw distance further hurt the experience. I understand that the game is from a small team but it’s disappointing the game turned out this way.
So what about how the game plays? Well that area isn’t much better then the presentation to be honest. Even as early as the opening tutorial hunting for boars you see where this game already has issues. It asks you to track the boar but in order to do so you have to hold the X button down for several seconds each time. Not only that but the color of the screen changes and the tracks have a white highlight making them very hard to see. Many times I kept losing track of them and had to wander around looking for them or I was left wondering if the tracking just wore off and thus had to hold the X button down again for several seconds. The more I played of the game the more I grew frustrated with it. If you want to play stealthy as Otto good luck as most attacks won’t take an enemy out in 1 hit like other games. The game splits time between playing as Otto and the Troll. The Troll has size to his advantage and can deliver huge punches to enemies. This is great when they connect but many times I found his huge arms ended up missing whatever it was I was trying to hit.
Unfortunately should either Otto or the Troll die while playing as the other it’s game over making playing as the troll less fun then it should be as you always have to worry about Otto dying. Many areas in the game you can’t get to as the troll due to his size so he is forced to hang back while Otto goes ahead. This becomes a big problem for co-op should you choose to play that way. That’s right the game has a local co-op mode where each player controls one of the characters but due to how many times you run into areas where only one player can proceed it makes for a lot of boring times for the other as he or she just sits there for an extended period of time with nothing to do.
You can craft items in the game as well but here again the game stumbles as the whole interface is poorly designed. Finding the materials to craft anything isn’t easy either. Traversal is another big part of the game with lots of climbing and platforming to do. This is frustrating too as many times I fell and died while trying to make a jump that I should have made. Climbing is slow and clunky as well. Again I know this was made by a small team but when you play other games like Horizon or Zelda who don’t have these problems it’s hard to find them acceptable. Troll and I isn’t some budget priced game either. It’s $50 which makes all of these problems even more unforgiving. Why would you go out and buy this game when there are so many games that do almost everything here far better.
The sound department also is disappointing as the voice acting is pretty bad and the sound effects are reused over and over. The actual soundtrack I found to be somewhat enjoyable but it just wasn’t varied enough. The game is full of glitches as well as I found myself getting stuck in different things in the environment and even had the game crash a couple times during my playthrough. If you like trophies or achievements the game at least has a lot of them including a Platinum but you’ll probably grow too bored or frustrated with the game long before earning them all.
I really was disappointed in just how every area of Troll and I just seemed to fail to even be half way decent. The whole idea was interesting but the far out of date visuals, bad and frustrating game design, boring story and all the glitches just make this game hard to recommend to anyone especially given the price. I hope Spiral House can learn from the problems with this game and hopefully come up with something better in the future. Troll and I wasn’t for me and it probably isn’t for anyone else either.
*Review copy provided by the publisher