There’s always been something quite enchanting and mystical about the woods. From the earliest glimmers of civilisation we’ve filled them with imaginative creatures, and even as science and logic have come to found the bedrock of our modern lives, those myths and legends have continued to persist. But what if the mystical creatures that your grandmother tells you about in your bedtime stories were real?
Among the Trolls is a game where you’ll find out, taking you to a heavily wooded Finnish forest filled with fantastic creatures that rule over this untamed land… and asking you to try and survive.
Coming to Early Access later this year, Among the Trolls is a first person survival action adventure, tapping into one of the most popular indie game genres of the last few years. You play as a Finnish-American in their mid-30s who’s decided to head back and visit their Finnish grandparents after the untimely passing of your mum and dad. But things take a turn for the bizarre when, as you’re rowing across a lake to get to their cabin in the woods, a giant pike launches out of the water, rips up your boat and drags you to the bottom of the lake. Thankfully, you wake up on the shore, but it’s one that you’ve never seen before.
Hungry, cold and thirsty, you’ll have to set out into the woods and try to scavenge, craft, and ultimately survive. Fans of the genre will find pretty much all the regular survival game mechanics at play here, but where many a survival game puts you in a roundly hostile setting, Among the Trolls wants you to try and live in harmony with the world. Instead of fighting the wildlife, you need to make peace with them.
Obviously, a big part of survival games is to create a shelter, a home where you can safely spend the nights away from dangers. Similar to games like Valheim – a game that has provided a little bit of inspiration here – there’s a modular building system so that you can construct the wood cabin of your dreams. However, to build your cabin, you need lumber, and even something like cutting down a tree can anger the creatures of the forest. Hiisi creatures roam the forest anyway, but doing something like this will have these corrupted beasts directly come out to attack you and try to rip you to shreds as the forest darkens around you.
You need to make amends with the forest, create and craft something to give back, make an offering at the cupstones dotted around the landscape in order to calm the creatures. This ties into a trio of mythology-inspired attributes: Väki, Lykky (pronounced “Lookku”) and Sisu. Väki allows you to sing spell poems to summon rain of the northern lights, while Lykky is a Finnish luck that you can bolster by making sacrifices, and Sisu is a supernatural type of resilience.
Of course, there’s plenty of things that you can craft that will help you to survive, with combat featuring both melee and ranged options, and the ability to make knives, spears and axes that can defend yourself and help gather resources. But there’s also a magical twists to this, as you can create Familiars, magical beings that will help you on your journey through the game’s narrative.
All of this can be played with friends, with co-op for up to four players all working together. Going back to the building systems, it’s blueprint-based, meaning that one player could be the main architect who sets out what a building will look like, whether there’s walls, doors, stairs, and so on, while the other players go out to collect resources and build the structure.
The game will head into Early Access this year (planned for Q3 2022) with the beginnings of the overarching feature set, the opening chapter of the story, and the first season (as in weather) to try and survive through. As each chapter releases – planned with a six month cadence between them – there will be new characters, new weather conditions, new features like fishing, boating, farming and plenty more on the way as well.
Given the success of the genre and the explosive popularity of the similarly Scandinavian survival game Valheim, Among the Trolls is absolutely one to keep an eye on when it releases into Early Access later this year.