There aren’t many times that I will just come out and say you absolutely should avoid a game at all costs. I can usually find something redeeming about any game; just one thing that I enjoyed. In the case of Troll and I from Maximum Games I’m not finding anything positive to talk about.
I downloaded the game over the weekend to start playing it for review. I hadn’t seen anything about it other than screenshots in the eShop. It looked like an interesting co-op adventure game. I was genuinely interested in checking it out so when the publisher sent over the game I started playing it. The first cut scene should have been an indicator of exactly what to expect.
The first scene opens with a guy sitting at a desk. Someone walks into the office to talk to him. The animation of the guy who was walking in was vibrating back and forth. For anyone old enough to remember them his character model looked like he was in a VCR that had been paused. It was incredibly distracting. I chalked it up to a weird thing and kept on though. I wasn’t going to let one weird cut scene issue keep me from enjoying the game. I pressed on.
Nothing terribly out of the ordinary happened for a couple minutes after that. The scene kept going and then the game leapt forward five years and I met the main character of the game, Otto. He was walking down a path and his character model did the same weird vibrating thing. In fact, in every cut scene I watched one character was doing the same thing. Not a great start to the game.
After a few more minutes of pretty basic gameplay, learning to track animals for resources I encountered a section where Otto is sliding down a hill. This section asks you to avoid rock formations and logs by moving side to side. The problem is the frame rate is running somewhere between 15 and 20 frames per second. It’s not unplayable, but it’s not the best experience either. Another section has you running through canyons and avoiding falling tree trunks that are on fire by pressing B in time with the action on screen. Again the frame rate is noticeably below where it should be to ensure smooth action.
The worst part of the whole experience was about 10 minutes into the game I encountered what has, to this point, been a game breaking issue. You’re asked to scale a small rock wall to move into a new section of the map. When you do it pops up a loading screen. That loading screen never went away. I let the system sit there for over 10 minutes. It kept scrolling through game play hints, but never loaded the next area. This has to be a fluke, right?
I reload the save file hit that same area again. Loading screen, nothing else. I load the game again and try to go in the opposite way to trigger an auto save and go back. I climb the wall. The loading screen pops up. Nothing. Just scrolling game play tips again.
I tried loading a new game, not tied to that auto save. I play through the still choppy cut scenes. I get past the tutorial bits I’ve already played. I endure the sluggish frame rate on the hill slide. I hit the small rock wall. Loading screen, game play tips, nothing. I notice there is a tree trunk down a few feet away that leads to the same basic area. Maybe that will work. It will let me bypass the wall and the loading screen. I climb up, make it about half way up. Loading screen, game play tips, nothing.
I have one more idea. I delete the entire game. Maybe there was just something weird about my initial install. I get the game reinstalled. The cut scene is still choppy. This is not looking good. I play through the tutorial section again. I make it to the rock wall and try to climb it. Loading screen, loading screen, loading screen. Nothing.
That’s it. The game just doesn’t work. I write up and email to the publisher outlining exactly what happened. I explained everything that I did to try and get the game going. They asked me a couple questions about firmware and making sure everything is up to date. I assure them it is. They tell me they’ll forward my email on to the support team and get back to me. As of the time of this writing it’s still a problem. The publisher gave us another code and Shannon tried it on his Switch. The same issue occurred in the same place. I notified the publisher that it happened with him as well, but that I would have to let people know the game appears to be broken.
I told the publisher about this issue and they were going to send me another copy of the game, physically this time. However a few hours later I got an email saying that they think they figured out the problem. They asked me to restart my system. The one thing I hadn’t actually tried and it worked. I restarted the game and the framerate improved. The choppy cutscenes disappeared and I was finally able to get over that wall. Funnily enough this time it didn’t actually trigger a loading screen. It just allowed me to go into the next area. So, I kept playing…
…For about an hour. After that the framerate problems returned. If any number of enemies were on the screen things started chugging. To add to that there are climbing sections in the game. They’re places where unnatural looking stair sections appear on cliff faces and you’re supposed to climb up them. When you get to the top Otto will pull himself up on to the ledge and he’ll start walking away. At least he’s supposed to. On more than one occasion I had an issue where Otto would pull himself to the top of the ledge, take one step and then fall back down where he had to grab the cliff. I tried pulling him back up. One step, fall. I moved a little bit on the ledge, maybe I was hitting a weird place in the geometry. He’d take one step and fall back down again. There was nothing I could do to get off that ledge. So, turn off the game, reload the checkpoint and he’d be standing at the top as if nothing happened. This happened on at least three different cliff faces I climbed.
The Troll has issues too. He’s so big he gets caught in the geometry of the levels at various places. If there’s a tree close to a cliff don’t go anywhere near it. He’ll probably get himself stuck.
I wanted to like this game. I really did. I was interested early on based on the screens and the idea of a Last Guardian style co-op game on Switch. I made it about an hour in and the many issues that popped up just kept hampering the whole experience. It’s frustrating to play a game that just doesn’t work. I just can’t, with good conscience, recommend this game to anyone.