Troll & I – A Unique Friendship of Survival and Trust
From the very first time I saw this game running to the very first time I had the opportunity to play, both were at EGX 2016, of course before this time I had seen press announcements and was rather intrigued at what Maximum Games and Spiral House brought to the gaming arena.
Before I move on and talk about the game, I had to put this out there, when I was growing up, I watch some Iconic Movies, even now our generation of Kids still watch them, like E.T – The Extraterrestrial not so much the 80s B-Movie Classic Ghoulies. Well, check out these images, don’t they look like similar to a degree, I wonder if they got their ideas from these franchises?
Now back to the game and story, E.T has been sighted by a film crew and a bounty has now been put on his head, all kidding aside let’s move on properly. A Troll has been spotted in the wilderness of Scandinavia and a bounty has been put on the poor creatures head, Dead Or Alive. As the hunters, attempt to flush out the Troll they inadvertently destroy Otto’s home, Otto is ‘I’ in Troll and I, a young boy who was out hunting wild boar when shit hits the fan.
Upon Otto’s return to the village to see his mum in peril and his village in tatters he bumps straight into Troll, a big, hairy, stinky, sort of menacing creature, but Troll does nothing and allows Otto to carry on, this is the just the start of this somewhat great friendship.
Playing this game requires teamwork, via co-op (Local) which is also has split screen or you can play solo, whichever you decide you will need to swap from playing Otto to Troll on a regular basis, to help traverse the world, solve puzzles and take on the enemy.
I played solo, and it was almost just as good, apart from the glitches where one of the characters would get stuck within the environment, easy to solve all the time, I just had to swap to the character and take control for a short amount of time, of course, this issue would not be here, if you were playing co-op, this is something that could also be patched out over time. The use of playing either Otto and Troll in highly important in playing and completing the game, do not expect to complete this game, just by playing one of them, it’s just not possible.
So swapping from one character to the other is paramount to your success or failure within Troll & I, as Troll is a giant beast hairy and smelly, he can reach higher ground, use his strength to decimate the enemy or enemies and pick up heavy items. Otto is more nimble and fragile, he can craft weapons, sneak up on the enemy and fit into tight spots. From the very start of the game to the very end, the use of both characters is needed, and you never feel. or question “why do I need Otto” or the other way around.
Very early in the game, you see how Troll and I comes together as a unit to help each other, Otto running across tall stones, then it comes to a spot Otto can no longer go and needs a way across, this is where Troll comes into play, swap over to Troll and find a way to give Otto a bridge to the other side to carry on their adventure, this is just one of many experiences within the game.
Puzzles, Puzzles Everywhere, somewhere, well that’s the problem, puzzles are not really that demanding and anyone even with half a brain could solve them, it is finding them, finding the next part of the story, Troll & I gives you a sense of, go it alone, we are not holding your hand, and it does a good job with that as well, as you not told where to go, what to do next, it’s totally down to you, there is even no map, so where you go and what you have done, you simply have no idea, I started to create my own map on paper, I guess this is something you would do, if you where a survivalist and need to find your way back to something, or recall where you have been.
I recently have been playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild and that game does not hold you by the hand, but there is a map and it does show you places you have been, so you get an idea of the area, it is so strange not having just the basic in a game, but this will give me something to learn and experience the game from a pure survivalist perspective.
I am not sure if this was intentional of the game developers, to adopt this approach, but I guess, Otto and Troll are surviving, in the wildness alone, with no map, so kind of makes sense that we should not be given a map either, or any sort of guidance.
Next is Combat, we all love combat, hunting down your next meal, and having to fight the upcoming enemy. Troll is not so light on his feet and his build doesn’t help, big and muscular, so you can imagine, his speed, in general, is rather tedious, or should I say SLOW. He moves slow, turns around slow and hits slow, behind the slowness is power and when he manages to hit his target, they know it, there is some power behind his fists. Troll is also best suited to take on groups of enemies as he can absorb more damage and decimate the enemy quickly and effectively at times.
There is also Trolls Upgradable abilities, Magic to be exact, Trolls magic is not magic that can be used as weapon, its magic that can help, like healing magic or even disguise both him and Otto.
Then you have Otto, he can dodge, throw crafted weapons like spears, or charge in with a club that he has crafted, and take them on one to one. Otto even has some sweet finishing moves, brutal and deadly, and a joy to watch, this slow down effect, did put an evil smile on my face when I accomplished this feat. Crafting is easy and there is plenty of items in the world to use, to craft an array of weapons to dispose of your enemy or hunt down your next meal. There are also Troll Idols scattered around the world for you to collect and gain an achievement, achievement lovers going to love this aspect.
The game does have its launch issues;
The Camera is touch and go thanks to the somewhat crazy camera alignment system, if you are surrounded by trees or rocks/mountains and you decide to play Troll, the camera literally hugs him, making it rather impossible to see the surrounding area or even your enemy. The devs should have looked into this and found a way play Troll without being affected by the surrounding objects/environment, again this might be fixed in an upcoming patch.
I found many other issues while playing the game from crashes, which could have been my system, missing sound, when replaying a section, invisible enemies, collision detection, finding myself stuck within the environment, these were just some of the underlying issues I had when playing Troll & I.
There is one thing I should mention Troll & I is being created by an Indie Development Studio with a limited budget, you are not going to get this Generation Graphics, that I can promise you, it’s rough around the edges and feels more like a game created for the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, but you can easily move past this and just enjoy what the game wants you to experience.
It’s not all Bad, though,
I did enjoy the story, the Interaction between Troll and Otto and the voice acting, all dragged me deeper into the game, I actually felt, affection from Troll, to a degree. The soundtrack plays out very well, through its combat emphasising to general exploring and puzzle solving, the music can not be faulted, unless it cuts out for some reason.
I did enjoy the game when it was not crashing out or having to fight the camera, I did not mind the Previous Generation Graphics, I loved the idea of pure survival with no one holding your hand, not even a map, even though I know many people would love to have both of those. I personally think more time could have been spent on the game to refine it before release, however, I do hope this all gets resolved via updates from the studio. I am scoring this game 8/10, it does have its issues, and they can be ironed out over time if they can afford to spend the money. The camera lets the game down to a degree and it can get rather frustrating having to fight it at times, invisible enemies are an annoyance and seeing enemies collision detection somewhat misplaced. In its current form, the game should be sold at £29.99, not £39.99, even though there is a discount of 20% on steam.
I hope the developers Iron out some of the issues in the game via patches, for now though if you can ignore some of the underlying issues you will be treated to an adventure with a rather unlikely friendship, fun adventure and plenty of puzzles and exploration.