A troll lotta fun
As a die-hard fan of both the RTS and tower defense genres, it warms my clogged-up little heart whenever the two are fused together skillfully. The last time this occurred was with Puppy Games’ excellent Revenge of the Titans, though that game was a right beast with an extremely steep difficulty curve. I was therefore delighted to get my paws on One Troll Army, one of the newest and best examples of free-to-play games on Steam.
The game starts off observing a small tribe of weak little goblins who are trying to advance in life. It soon becomes apparent that their land is overflowing with other tribes of a decidedly more hostile persuasion. Calling out for divine assistance, our goblin tribe awakens a troll of gargantuan proportions, who offers to help out his fellow green humanoids in exchange for some rest.
Tower defense tropes come into play as your goblin tribe has a fort which must be protected from waves of approaching hordes. These are mixed in with familiar real-time strategy ideas, as the eponymous troll functions as a “hero” or super unit, capable of quickly dwindling enemy numbers with specialized attacks.
Another noteworthy RTS touch is the collection of resources. Goblins may be tasked with chopping down wood, reinforcing fortifications or collecting loot from fallen enemies. Managing resources becomes a central part of the gameplay, particularly when you’re given a limited workforce with which to accomplish your goals. However, rather than manually selecting workers, you’re given a slide by which you may allocate a certain number of units to a specific task. I’m not entirely sure I like it, but it is certainly a streamlined touch and should resonate with people who feel RTSes are too bogged-down with micromanagement.
As the game wears on, various upgrade options become available. These range from building towers in your fortress to training your troll to dish out new, more devastating attacks. Upgrades will keep you occupied for quite a while, and since things aren’t too costly, you’ll soon see yourself as a rather formidable superpower.
The entire affair feels somewhat short, mind you. Once you’ve obtained all upgrades and played through the few missions, it begins to feel a tad repetitive. Thankfully, there are a few options available for keeping things fresh, including endless and survival modes. Perhaps the noteworthy feature is Twitch integration, allowing chatters to control enemy units! It’s a very interesting idea and something I’d like to see further developed in future.
Every so often, a freebie shows up that proves that free doesn’t necessarily come at the cost of quality, and One Troll Army is a sterling example. It’s polished and addictive, and although it could use a bit more content, there’s a lot to love here. In addition, the developers are in touch with fans and are tweaking and adding features all the time. I recommend it highly to strategy fans in particular and anyone in general looking for a solid free title.
The only price tag comes in the form of optional costumes for your troll, which are strictly vanity items with no impact on gameplay whatsoever.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (reviewed) ; Publisher: tinyBuild ; Developer: FlyAnvil ; Players: 1, multiple over Twitch; Released: May 20, 2016 ; MSRP: Free to play, $1.99 for the Costume Sets DLC
Full disclosure: This review is based on a PC review code provided by the publisher.