Play as both the stinky Troll and his Human buddy.
Troll and I, from Maximum Games and Spiral House, is an action adventure game involving the unlikely friendship that develops between a young man and a smelly Troll in the Scandinavian wilderness. Before playing the game, I must admit that I was quite excited, having bought into the pre-release promotion. However, Troll and I really didn’t turn out how I was hoping.
The story, for what it’s worth, begins with a meeting in a dusty old mansion. Set in the 1950s, a rich old man employs the services of a gritty hunter and his army of underlings to hunt and capture, by any means possible, a mythical creature known as a Troll. Things then jump to a young man who is leaving his rural village to go hunting for food. Saying farewell to his Mum and promising to be careful, the game then jumps into a short tutorial, explaining to the player how to move stealthily, craft spears and slay boar.
This tutorial, with the player taking on the role of young Otto, perhaps gives a glimpse of things to come. The act of tracking the beast and sneaking up on them is not too difficult, although it may take a few attempts to master. However, muddy textures and a generally unhelpful camera make it more difficult than it should be to actually pinpoint your prey for the killing blow. And things get worse before they get better.
Once the relevant number of boars have been butchered, Otto heads back to his village to find it has been attacked and is mostly on fire. Separated from his Mum, Otto runs from the village and launches into a horrible sequence of running through the forest amidst flames and burning trees. This sequence is absolutely horrible, hampered by the awkward movement of Otto and again, the camera. To make things even worse, the sequence is followed by yet another sequence with Otto sliding down a hill.
Get through this early part of the game, and things do improve. Otto then meets with Troll, a lumbering beast with a hygiene problem. Over the course of the rest of the game, they will develop an unspoken friendship that forms the core of the story, with a side of the hunters and their effort to capture Troll.
Players are able to switch between Otto and Troll with a quick press of a button, and each has their own skills that will need to be employed to continue their journey and overcome the obstacles along the way. Otto is small and quick, able to creep through enclosed areas with ease, while Troll is slow but strong, and will often be needed to move large objects. The environmental puzzles are all fairly straight forward in the game, mostly requiring a little teamwork between the two characters.
When it comes to the combat, each character again has their place. Troll can lumber in and swipe away enemies with his big arms and pound the ground. Otto is at his best when sneaking up behind enemies and attacking them, although he can also get into it face to face, helping to dispatch the quicker enemies that Troll can’t catch. Otto’s other ability is that he can craft spears to throw at enemies from a distance.
The crafting extends beyond just making spears for throwing at enemies, as he can also forage or hunt animals to heal. There are even some puzzles that will require crafting. The problem is that all of the systems in the game, from the crafting to the combat, lack the depth to make them interesting. They all work, but they just don’t impress.
Also not impressing is the overall polish of the game. Whilst there are some really beautiful environments that can make the player stop and look around, the visuals in general feel old and outdated. Then there are the numerous glitches through the game, such as pop in and getting stuck in the scenery. Finally, there is the camera which really does struggle at points in the game, jumping around at times like it has a life of its own.
A shining light for Troll and I is that the developers have included a co-op mode, allowing one player to take on the role of Otto while the other plays as the Troll. It is much easier to forgive the problems of the game when playing with another player.
It is a real shame. Troll and I is a technical mess and suffers with uninspired mechanics and systems. The setting is great, and the idea behind the game has real promise, but as it stands, Troll and I is difficult to recommend.