Going on an adventure with a virtual friend is nothing new in gaming. However, Troll and I offers an interesting approach to the genre so let's see if this big hairy beast has what it takes to wow gamers.
First of all, I wanted to play through and review Troll and I because it reminded me of Majin and the Forsaken Kingdom which is one of my favourite games of all time. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite live up to Majin but it does provide a unique experience on its own. You play as a boy named Otto who gets separated from his mother when their village is attacked. Soon after, he comes across a Troll who doesn't speak yet the two of them become friends. You alternate between them by the tap of a button in order to help each other progress through the journey which ends up being a rewarding tale of friendship and loss.
All of that being said, Troll and I leaves an absolutely dreadful first impression. The opening scene where some rich guy talks about hunting Trolls is laughable. Then, you have to hunt a couple of boars which is boring and barely reflects the gameplay in the main campaign. Finally, you work through two of the worst segments full of quick-time events ever where you run through burning woods then slide down a hill. All of this takes about an hour and once you're done, you'll think that Troll and I will be an awful game. However, it pleases me to say that it gets much better.
Once you begin exploring as Otto and the Troll, it slowly comes together and you'll actually start having fun. At first, the campaign is all about working your way from point A to point B but areas open up as you progress and therefore exploration starts to play a much larger role. Both Otto and the Troll have to help each other move forward by accomplishing tasks such as lifting Otto up to high platforms or disabling Troll traps. There's a combat system, too, where the Troll can use powerful abilities and swipe at foes while Otto uses crafted melee weapons and spears that you can throw. That's right; you can craft weapons and stuff with found items. Speaking of which, there's also an element of survival where you can gather berries and hunt animals to restore your health. This seamless blend of gameplay elements makes Troll and I a rather promising 3D adventure. That is, if you can tolerate its horrible prologue.
As you travel through the vast areas of the campaign, you'll discover plenty of collectibles along the way. First, there are 10 diary pages that help flesh out Otto's world but are otherwise superficial. Next, you can disable sirens that human hunters use and close fractures where the Ahky (hideous monsters) spawn from. These two collectibles are very rewarding to master because it means there will be far less enemies to deal with. Finally, idols for both Otto and the Troll will grant them points that they can redeem for permanent upgrades. There are tons of these suckers hidden everywhere so it's great fun to find a bunch and purchase loads of enhancements.
Unfortunately, Troll and I isn't a very refined experience. The visuals are subpar for a current generation game and the character models can be downright ugly. That being said, the environments are detailed and sometimes quite beautiful although you'll mostly be outside in forests and rocky areas. The gameplay suffers from a similar problem in that it all functions but some parts just feel off. For example, the combat is far too easy as Otto. You can just keep mashing the attack button and pretty much emerge unscathed from most confrontations. On the other hand, some enemies later in the journey can kill you with one hit which can be exceptionally infuriating, especially when you have to play through long stretches all over again as a result.
It's also difficult to know where you are in the world of Troll and I. As you progress, you'll unlock shortcuts that may lead to early parts of the campaign. This will help you backtrack to acquire goodies that you may have missed the first time through but there is no map whatsoever so figuring out where you are can be a huge pain in the tuchas. There is an eyeball that occasionally helps out by pointing you in the right direction but only in specific circumstances. You can get so lost that you may give up on Troll and I altogether.
Troll and I has the potential to be a must-play adventure but its lack of fine-tuning makes it an often haphazard experience that'll test your patience more than it provides enjoyment. Here's hoping the developers retool it down the road or perhaps learn from their mistakes and create a more refined sequel because they definitely have a winning formula on their hands.
- + Imaginative premise for an adventure
- + Satisfying blend of exploration, cooperation, combat, crafting, and survival
- + Loads of rewarding collectibles to uncover
- - Unrefined graphics and gameplay
- - No map makes backtracking and knowing what to do next a constant nuisance
- - One-hit kills are a huge problem