Games based on shows and films range from impressively representative to disappointing cash-grabs so let's see where Trollhunters lies.
Although I'm a newcomer to the Trollhunters universe, I appreciate its world and characters. For the unfamiliar, you play as Jim Lake Jr. who's tasked with thwarting a Trickster Troll known as Porgon. Plus, if you have a friend to play with then they can jump in via local co-op to play as Claire although doing so doesn't really add much to the core gameplay. Speaking of which, Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is a 2D platformer that was developed by WayForward of Shantae fame and just like their flagship series, it features tight gameplay that incorporates plenty of nifty abilities. However, this is far less visually appealing as it comes across like a budget XBLA game for Xbox 360. On the plus side, the voice acting is excellent and it makes it easy to appreciate the small tidbits of story throughout.
Back to the gameplay, Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is rather simple as you run and jump around and slash a melee weapon to take care of pesky enemies. As you progress, you'll acquire additional abilities that help provide some variety and flesh out the gameplay. For example, you'll eventually be able to dash in mid-air, throw a boomerang-style weapon, and summon friends to help in sticky situations who can elevate a column of ground or smash down certain barriers. All of this is handled well and it makes for an enjoyable albeit simplistic campaign. If you want a bit more challenge, you can try to collect each level's hidden socks and hard-to-snag gnomes as you amass a wealth of currency that you can use to purchase one-use items and upgrade your armour which is satisfying stuff.
All of that being said, Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is an extremely simple game. You could argue that it's targeted towards 10 to 12 year old fans of the franchise but generally speaking, gamers from that age range are great at games and will likely get bored of the low level of challenge. Heck, I beat every NES Mega Man game when I was about 10 and had a great time doing so. One interesting part about Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia is that although it starts rather linearly in that you merely beat stage after stage, the campaign eventually relies more on quests which force you to replay levels. I found this aspect to be downright tedious, especially when I re-completed stages without discovering the thing that I needed in order to progress the story. It can be a real bummer.
Don't get me wrong; the core gameplay is handled well and I enjoyed completing quests in order to advance the story, enhance my capabilities, and extend my health meter. In fact, this sense of growth is perhaps my favourite part of the overall experience. With that in mind, playing through the levels can be quite an irritating affair. For example, some of the enemies aren't highlighted all that well so the fact that they blend into the background makes spotting them a bit tricky and needless to say, taking damage from an ankle-biter monster that you didn't see can be super-frustrating, especially if you're running low on health.
I should mention that there are a few mini-games that you can play within the hub area of Heartstone Trollmarket. First, Go-Go Sushi has you move a character left and right as you try to catch sushi and sea creatures in a basket. It's absurdly simple and feels like a slapped-together browser game. Next, Omelrug's Gnome Challenge has you fling gnomes into moving targets and it's fairly fun yet extremely mindless. Finally, whenever you catch a Luug at home base, you can play a timed platforming challenge that tests your mastery of the game's traversal abilities. I often failed my first attempts but nailed the stages on my second try.
You might enjoy Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia if you're a fan of the show but even if you are, there's no denying just how unchallenging and unrefined of an experience it is. Here's hoping that a much better Trollhunters game is made down the road.
- + Tight 2D platforming with plenty of cool moves and collectibles
- + Solid voice acting and fun story
- + Lots of quests and upgrades to master
- - Bland visuals with enemies that tend to blend in with the background
- - Not knowing what to do can be annoying
- - Unchallenging and tedious gameplay