Troll & I is set in the Nordic wilderness, where a boy named Otto befriends a Troll as they embark on a treacherous adventure together. Is Troll & I worth checking out? Read our review below…
Tucked away deep in the Nordic wilderness lives Otto, a young boy forced to flee his home after it is destroyed by hunters in their effort to track down a the mythical troll they suspect is inhabiting the nearby forest. In his effort to escape the raging fire that has taken over his village, Otto is thrust into a series of quick time events in order to dodge giant boulders and burning trees that block his path. This is the first time in the game that the sluggish controls become overwhelmingly apparent, as it is almost impossible to navigate Otto through the obstacles without him breaking his neck on a rock or being engulfed in a violently fiery death because of a poorly timed prompt to hit the A button.
Should the player finally get Otto through the quick time sequence, they’ll find themselves surrounded by a group of ominous looking orc like monsters, known as the Ahky, that crawl out of various caverns and cracks in the earth. Otto does not seem at all phased by his ability to brutally smash the Ahky with a blunt club that he has crafted, though he does come to a point where he finds himself surrounded by them. Its at this time that Otto meets Troll, who saves Otto from the being overtaken by the orcs by stepping on them or literally punching them into the ground. Trolls arrival into the game is rather anticlimactic with nothing giving Otto any indication as to Troll’s existence up until the moment he appears and begins smashing Ahky.
One of the biggest struggles the developers for Troll and I faced was creating artificial intelligence that was helpful without creating AI that took control of the game away from the actual human player. While this works well enough when players are in control of Otto, the execution falters for those who would rather take control of Troll and use him to stomp some orcs into the dirt. Often times while using Troll in a fight, I would turn around to find Otto just standing and staring into space while he is surrounded by baddies. In other instances while controlling Otto, Troll would follow so closely along that the camera would be entirely blocked by the back side. That’s not really an area of Troll that anybody wants to be forced into a close up experience with. Many of the problems with wonky AI can be avoided, however, by playing the cooperatively, though this is limited to local play as online co-op is not supported.
While the rocky, grassy forests of Scandinavia are lovely, they can be difficult to traverse as there are no indicators to guide players toward their next goal or mission. Finding the puzzles required to progress are often just dumb luck. This also comes into play during some of the game’s boss battles, where the means to defeat a boss is described one way during cut scenes but then is actually something entirely different in order to carry on. Troll and I is guilty of misleading players with their skills on more than one occasion. The game begins with Otto showing off his spectacular hunting skills, for instance, as players track and take down boar single handed. While this is used at the beginning as a means of gathering meat to regenerate Otto’s health the mechanic doesn’t show up again for the remainder of the game. In fact, there aren’t any other animals even available in the game beyond the boars from the beginning.
If you’re unfortunate enough to load up the game after having to save and exit midway through the chapter, you may find that while the area you were in was saved upon exit, any other progress, including all crafting materials and collectibles for the chapter, will be lost and require time spent backtracking to recollect them before moving forward.
Its hard to be this tough on Troll and I. Its a game I had anticipated and genuinely wanted to enjoy. There’s a good story hiding under all of the flawed execution, and with any hope a little refinement and polish through continued development could improve Troll & I down the road.
Author’s Note: As I had finished up writing this review, Troll and I received an update that, with any luck, may have patched some of the issues that I experienced in my play through.