Troll and I is a game that was released earlier this year for all major platforms and it got very negative reviews, with some outlets panning it to the point of giving it a 1 out of 10 and even cursing in their reviews. I’d only seen very little footage and a few pictures of it before tackling the recently released Switch version, but given the overwhelming hate wave towards this game, I was already expecting the worst.
There’s some good news and bad news about Troll and I. The good news is: it’s not as horrendous as some people made it out to be. The bad news is: it’s still not good at all.
Troll and I takes place in Scandinavia in the 1950s, and it can be considered the IKEA version of those classic “boy-meets-monster-friend-or-robot” movies like Pete’s Dragon or The Iron Giant. I’ll refrain from spoilers in case you still want to play after reading this, but I’ll say that it’s an okay story at best, with a few good moments scattered within. That is, if you can ignore its voice acting. Everybody in this game, except the first two blokes you meet in the first cutscene, came straight from the Hayden Christensen School of Wooden Acting. They’re unbelievably bland in their delivery, the main offender being the main character’s voice actor, who makes the aforementioned Hayden sound like Sir Laurence Olivier in comparison, with the added offense of never shutting up. I have to give credit where credit is due, though: voice acting may be terrible, but Troll and I‘s soundtrack is actually quite good.
But then we dive right back into criticism with another huge issue. Graphics. Good grief, I can’t stress enough how huge this issue is. This is one ugly game to look at. Even though the scenery is a bit nice to look at, despite being your typical action-adventure grassland, Troll and I fails everywhere else. The characters are incredibly ugly, the troll looks like if Arnold from Hey Arnold was in a reggae phase while wearing a fur coat, the animations are very wonky, and the framerate….oh my, the framerate. Be it docked or undocked, this game runs poorly. 20 frames per second at best. I know the Switch is far from being a powerful console, but for crying out loud it can run a game better than this.
Believe it or not, though, the game has a bigger problem. And this overarching problem is how completely unfocused it is. You can basically play bingo or drinking games with your friends trying to look for elements in Troll and I borrowed from other bigger games. Throughout my journey, I’ve found elements very similar to Uncharted, Tomb Raider, Far Cry Primal, The Witcher 3, Ico, The Last Guardian, Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and even that awful Godzilla game for the PS4, given how similarly (and weirdly) the troll moves. There is absolutely no way you can make a game with such an identity crisis properly work on its own. Troll tries to be way too many games (no pun intended) at once and it fails to be its own thing, and that surely backfires in the gameplay department, given the excessive amount of commands to memorize, coupled with the very bad camera controls.
It saddens me to give this game a low score because there is a good concept somewhere in this mess of a game. Troll and I has potential, but it took elements from so many games and so many different genres it made its gameplay completely chaotic and unfocused, not to mention its myriad of technical issues. Maybe, if by any instance, they make a Troll and I 2 with more polishing and less overambition, it might actually turn out to become a decent title. For the time being, though, this isn’t one. Even though it had much more soul and depth than all of the other terrible games I’ve reviewed this year.
Ever heard that expression “less is more.” Case and point, Troll and I. In this case, “more” was definitely “less.”
Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Copy of Troll and I was provided by publisher