Troll & I doesn’t quite live up to the wonderful premise that it has, but it’s worth checking out if you enjoy similar titles. Here is our review of the PS4 version.
Playing a duo of characters where one of them is a giant creature isn’t new to videogames. The Last Guardian did it very recently, and a few years ago Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom provided a similar experience. Troll & I fits very well into that niche genre, but it’s not as polished in its execution as those other games were.
Troll & I takes place in Scandinavia right after the second world war, in an area in which people still believe in legendary creatures. So much so, in fact, that they are actively chasing a troll – said to live in the nearby forests. The hunters who are after this troll end up destroying the family home of a young boy called Otto, who finds himself escaping into the woods and soon runs into the mythical troll.
With both the troll and Otto now in a struggle for survival, they form a bond of friendship and have to overcome obstacles and foes by working together. This is true for combat (in which Troll uses his immense strength and Otto uses stealth and swiftness), but especially applies to the game’s puzzles, which often involve creating a pathway or taking care of an obstacle for the other player. As with other games in this genre, Troll and I gives each character distinct and different abilities that encourage cooperation. This can also be done by two player, using a split screen mechanic – although this isn’t the most fun mode to play in because one player will often be waiting for the other.
When playing with Otto, you’ll have to collect food and materials and mostly stay out of sight. You’re quite vulnerable in combat, so it’s better to avoid it. Instead, your focus is more on discovery and tracking, and you can use a special “spidey sense” option to receive visual pointers to help you with this. Unfortunately this option has about four or five seconds of charging time every time you use it, so a certain degree is patience is definitely required here.
Troll is far more combat and strength-oriented. He can lift heavy obstacles out of the way, or use them to create a bridge for Otto to cross. He can also demolish enemies in combat, using his superior strength. In a way, this is a bit like Peter Jackson’s King Kong – a game I really enjoyed playing back when the Xbox 360 was my platform of choice.
In a way, this similarity is also a shortcoming for Troll & I. It has been released for PS4, Xbox One and PC – but looks and feels like a game that was released for the previous generation of consoles. This is true for the cinematics as well as the in-game visuals, and can probably be attributed to the fact that Troll and I was developed by a relatively small developer, Spiral House. Luckily, it has a mid-range price tag to match.
Nevertheless, the approach taken to the game is one that makes it hard to resist comparing it to the likes of The Last Guardian, and in that sense it falls short. The gameplay is more formulaic, the audio and visuals are not up to the same level and that can also be said for the storytelling. That’s a shame, because the setup for Troll and I is an extremely promising one.
That doesn’t mean that Troll and I is a bad game – it’s just a distinctly average one. Troll and Otto are fun to play with and I enjoyed the story campaign, although I don’t see myself going back to it. If you’re a fan of similar games then you’ll probably enjoy playing Troll and I as well, just expect a budget rendition of some of your favorites or you’ll be disappointed.