Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia Review
Stop the time-pocalypse.
Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia is a kid-friendly video game inspired by the Netflix trilogy series Tales of Arcadia, which is made up of Trollhunters, 3Below, and Wizards.
The game is now available on consoles and PC, and we had a chance to go hands-on with the Switch version of the game.
What is Trollhunters: Defenders of Arcadia about?
In Defenders of Arcadia, players take on the role of Jim Lake Jr., a trollhunter who must travel through time in order to defeat a trickster troll named Porgon and ultimately stop the time-pocalypse.
The game features voice acting from the show’s actors, and players can also read along with subtitles on the screen.
What do players do in this game?
Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia is a level-based, side-scrolling platformer, meaning players will move from right to left (or left to right) across the screen by jumping on and over platforms, jumping over gaps in the path, and more. Enemies will often appear in the path, and you’ll be able to use Jim’s sword and glaives to attack enemies up close or from far away.
Each level has a set beginning and end point, and they also contain secret areas where you can collect socks and gnomes that can be used elsewhere in the game (some of these items are hidden more cleverly than others). Levels are also filled with currency, which you can collect and then spend in Trollmarket, the game’s hub. You can spend currency on more powerful armor for Jim, healing items, and more.
As you progress through Defenders of Arcadia, you’ll unlock a few abilities that will help you complete levels. One ability lets you call in Jim’s friend Toby, who will destroy special blocks in the path that prevent you from moving forward. Another ability allows you to ride a hoverboard across large gaps, and so on.
The game has a decent variety of enemies to defeat, and they will attack Jim in multiple ways. Some want to run up to him and attack, while others will shoot projectiles from far away. Players will need to use quick reflexes to avoid oncoming attacks and defeat these enemies before Jim takes damage. (In addition to regular enemies, some levels have boss battles against more powerful characters.)
Jim has a limited number of hearts, and he’ll lose those hearts as he takes damage. You can refill Jim’s health by picking up healing items that are scattered throughout levels, or by using healing items that you may have purchased in Trollmarket.
If you lose every heart, Jim will lose a life. When this happens, you don’t have to restart the stage (or boss battle) from the beginning. Rather, you’ll respawn near the location where you fell (or just in the middle of the boss battle).
If you’re worried about dying, you can bounce back to Trollmarket in the middle of a stage to purchase some healing items. However, when you do, you’ll need to restart the level you left from the beginning. You can’t return to the middle of a stage.
In addition to the game’s story-based missions, you can complete side missions for the citizens of Trollmarket, as well as play a couple of mini-games to earn more in-game currency.
Finally, while a single player can complete the entire game on their own, there's also the option for a second player to join in for some local cooperative multiplayer. This second player will control Jim's friend Claire. In addition, once you beat the game, you can replay it again on a harder difficulty setting.
Is Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia any fun?
Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia is a short game, with fairly simple gameplay compared to other side-scrolling platformers. This makes it a decent introduction to the genre for younger or more inexperienced players.
That being said, the game does become more challenging over time. Your health doesn’t recharge between standard levels, so this makes later stages more difficult than they need to be, especially in a game intended for younger players.
Plus, there’s a problem with the game’s flying and jumping enemies, which makes them difficult to hit with your sword even if they’re right in front of Jim. There are quite a few of these enemies near the end of the game, making the title’s later levels even more challenging (and even frustrating).
All told, answering the question of whether this game is any fun is a bit difficult. Looking at only the first half, the answer would be “yes,” but the problems with the game’s later stages do drag the experience down.
Does the game have any other problems?
Defenders of Arcadia isn’t a bad game, but it does have a few more problems that are worth mentioning. For one, the game has very slow loading times on Switch (we weren’t able to check whether this is a problem on other platforms), and the initial tutorial is pretty lackluster.
As an example, near the beginning of the game, you’re told that you will sometimes need to slide through narrow passages in order to make your way through stages. However, the game doesn’t tell you which button to press to slide, so you have to randomly press buttons until you figure it out.
In addition, there are a few moments where determining where to go or what to do next isn't as clear as it should be, again, especially for a game that may be played by younger audiences.
Finally, while you don’t have to be a fan of the Trollhunters franchise in order to enjoy Defenders of Arcadia, the game assumes that you are, and will make references to other characters and past events that will go over the heads of newcomers. This means new players likely won’t get as much out of the storyline as existing fans.
What’s the final verdict?
Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia is a difficult game to judge. On the one hand, the “basic” gameplay makes it a nice option for younger players who may enjoy a side-scrolling platformer that’s simpler than the likes of Ori and the Will of the Wisps or Hollow Knight. However, it has quite a few problems that may really hurt their final experience with the title.
If your family is full of Trollhunters fans, this game is much easier to recommend. If not, it may be better to skip this one.
Disclosure: Outright Games gave SuperParent a code for Trollhunters Defenders of Arcadia for coverage purposes.