Ambition goes a long way; whether that’s trying to take on more than you can do, or by going that extra mile when completing a task. In my eyes, going that little bit more is usually a positive. The problem, however, is when you go too far and your ambition reaches for too many places. You can do everything, sure, but you don’t perfect anything. This is the best way to describe my experience with Troll and I.
Young teenager Otto is out and about one day in the Nordic wilderness hunting for boar – pretty normal small town stuff. When a fire breaks loose and he must leave his home town, he runs into the elusive and mythical Troll. After befriending this creature, Troll and Otto must evade capture from hunters who have placed quite a high bounty on the poor Troll’s head. It’s a nice and simple premise that doesn’t take too long to give control to the player, and the story for the most part works without getting too bogged down in exposition (save for the game’s extremely out of place opening conversation).
It would be quite dismissive to equate this game to The Last Guardian, last year’s finally released Playstation title between a young boy and giant animal, as Troll and I actually lets you play as both. Moments of quiet hunting in the forest are punctuated by giant Troll fighting moments that reminded me rather of the 2005 King Kong game. It’s important to point out this difference as the game needs this shift in control. Unfortunately neither play styles really work for long periods of time, so being able to change it up keeps the momentum going at the very least. The young boy is either too slow or too fast, and the Troll’s biggest enemy is the camera. These two different game types barely got a true moment to shine, but it kept me playing at least.
This review opened about ambition, and that’s because the team at Spiral House should be applauded for their zeal in tackling a game like this one. In amongst the young boy’s parkour and very light environmental puzzles (mostly about saving the Troll a horrible death later on in a trap), and the Troll’s gigantic battles, there are some light and welcome RPG elements. There are items to craft, there are extra bonuses to upgrade your character with, and while there is a fair bit of backtracking for certain items, the game has a level-like linear progression moving forward. It’s all very light when compared to standard triple A titles, but this game coming out of nowhere surprised me with its ideas.
However, there are a lot of problems with the game, and unfortunately they appear in the first hour of the title. Hunting boar is actually a bore, and when the game’s first climactic moment happens it becomes an almost unbearable piece of trial and error. The game makes nothing clear, and you learn by failing. If I wasn’t reviewing it I would have stopped playing it. Unfortunately, I wish I could say that pushing through the game’s worst moments is worth it when the game really gets into gear, but that doesn’t really happen. It’s not unplayable, and it’s not without its pleasant quirks, but with exaggerated death scenes and even longer loading screens, it does feel like a chore more often than not.
The game’s visual polish reminds me of Xbox 360 titles, and that lured me a little into a false sense of worth. You see, the biggest hurdle this game has to face is its asking price. I incorrectly assumed that this was a $20-$30 indie title. Imagine my surprise when I saw the price sitting at a full $90. While the game can distract and maybe even entertain on a cold day, or in between major releases when you have nothing new to play, at $90 it is almost impossible to recommend to anybody outside of those wealthy enough to not look at their online wallets.
Troll and I is not a great game, or even a consistently good one. But the team at Spiral House really have some great ideas and a keen sense to prove themselves. Hopefully the team continues to push and perfect the kind of game they want to make. But I do hope they go smaller and perfect elements in more indie titles. Build a name and then maybe even revisit Troll and I with those new found skills. There’s real potential in this game, but I shouldn’t be writing that about a full Triple A priced new release.
SCORE – 35%
Reviewed On – Xbox One