The Bad, the Ugly, and the Baffling.
Instead of being coy about how I feel about the Troll and I, let me just say, don’t buy this game – at any price. It was the single most boring, glitchy, frustrating game I have ever played, and the initial asking price makes the proposition all the more ludicrous. Let’s get into some detail.
Troll and I is about a young hunter, named Otto, who befriends a Giant troll after his village is destroyed. It is Otto’s mission to reunite with his mother, who is in the possession of troll hunters, hell-bent on capturing or killing his new friend. The player can switch between Otto and the troll on the fly as they fight through goblins (who are appearing because the trolls are dying off?) and the mercenaries.
Platforms: XB1, PS4, PC
Price I’d Pay: $0.00
Let’s get the somewhat superficial things out of the way. Yes, the game’s textures and animations are years behind, especially for an almost-full-price game. In what I can only guess is an effort to hide these deficiencies, is an astonishingly dark game. Tunnels in which one must navigate are pitch black. A climbing wall that was along the main path was so dark, the only way I found it was through a video walkthrough.
Combat as Otto is about as simple as it can get. Attack, dodge, and counter. More damaging melee weapons can be crafted, which I think I had enough material to do once, and those weapons degrade over time, forcing players to use a small knife that does next-to-no damage. For this reason, I usually fought enemies with the troll, who can clumsily punch the ground and hit an enemy maybe 10% of the time. In some situations, Otto can sneak around and stealth kill enemies, which is probably the most fluid part of the game – probably because they’re idiots.
Crafting spears with certain gems is how the game gates certain areas. Throwing the appropriately colored spear at the glowing rocks lets players get to new areas as well as connects them to places they’ve already been. The point of returning to these places? Your guess is as good as mine.
Early on, the necessity to create one such spear brought the game to a screeching halt. Once players have picked the environment of resources, the only way to get more crafting material is random enemy drops. Unfortunately, I had destroyed all of the “emergence holes” that pop out goblins indefinitely. The only way to get enough crafting material was to go through a considerable loading screen, walk down a winding, pitch-black tunnel, drop down, kill the two enemies that spawn there, climb back up, go back through the tunnel, have the loading screen, and repeat a few dozen times until I got what I needed.
All the while, the framerate is unstable at the best of times, and headache inducing at the worst. There were crashes, teleporting/glitching of the character models constantly – imagine intense lag in a multiplayer game where your character model is skating from side to side in random fashion. Other strange glitches are common, like the random, blinding white shapes that sometimes appear on the screen.
Navigating the similarly looking forest was a nightmare, and made me feel like I had never played a video game before. I rarely had any idea about where to go. Sometimes it was too dark to see, but the majority of the time it’s because there are very little cues, visually or through dialogue, as to what the current objective is. A hint popped up 2 times throughout the game, and only when the way to go couldn’t have been more obvious.
Through collectables, players can upgrade(?) Otto and the Troll. One ability makes hunting animals easier. The problem? Players hunt in the first 2 minutes of the game and then never again. The troll has an invisibility ability which I could never get to work, but was unnecessary anyway.
The story suggests that Otto and the troll are becoming swell pals – Otto does sometimes ask if the troll is alright, with no response from the troll – but, the majority of the random quips that come out of Otto is him complaining, in a myriad of ways, how repulsed he is of the troll’s odor. It happens so often, it’s worth bringing up.
I was not only ambivalent toward the main characters, I despised them. The troll has no character and what I was left with is an annoying kid constantly berating his friend for the way he smells. Maybe the dialogue and voice acting is bad, or maybe it’s just bad because Otto only has a dumb looking troll to interact with.
The game truly hits peak awful when goblins started throwing instakill spears my way, which resulted in most of my deaths as Otto. At least players get a hilarious reaction shot of the troll – who instead of looking distressed should be ecstatic that he doesn’t have to carry that annoying load around anymore.
When you pause, there is a restart chapter option. What it actually is, is a revert back to last loading screen. So, if I went through a loading screen, turned back, and went through again, that was a chapter. What other game have you played that has infinite chapters?
Troll and I was a miserable experience in just about every way imaginable. There are technical problems abound and the sum parts of its design baffle. Don’t play it out of curiosity, you won’t enjoy it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.