- Why The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Is A Review In Progress
- What We Can Review In The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum from Daedalic Entertainment sees the titular character roaming Middle-earth shortly before the main events in The Fellowship of the Ring. Initially told through flashbacks as Gandalf questions Gollum about the One Ring, the game explores story beats only briefly referenced in the book and appendices (and Peter Jackson’s films), offering a fairly unique take on The Lord of the Rings’ canon. The premise of a video game centering on Gollum sounds odd, and was understandably met with skepticism when it was announced, but The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is an oddly inspired stealth platformer at times.
Told in ten chapters, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will take players through iconic locations like Barad-dûr and Mirkwood. There are also enough well-known characters (like Gandalf) to balance out the new ones (like Mell, a blind elf Gollum encounters later on). The stealth mechanics and puzzles make this essentially Uncharted but Lord of the Rings, but whereas Nathan Drake has the ability to shoot and ask questions later, Gollum will instantly die (and often) if an orc or other enemy captures him. Because of this, being able to sneak and slink is important – and finding the best routes through trial and error becomes a cornerstone of the game.
Why The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Is A Review In Progress
Unfortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was bogged down by technical issues on PS5 during our review. At the time of this writing, there hasn’t been a version update to fix these problems, but because of this, the entirety of the game couldn’t be completed for review. The devs have assured us a Day One patch will fix the issues.
Gollum was also tried on the PS4, where it ran smoother, but was still subject to hard crashes that meant rebooting the entire game and loading in from an auto-save. These crashes happened frequently, and so, in its current state, Screen Rant cannot finish reviewing the game until the Day One patch resolves these problems. We’re hopeful the update will fix these issues soon, and that we can complete our review for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. We are also unsure if these problems exist on other platforms.
What We Can Review In The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
Technical issues aside, the early portions of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum are fairly enjoyable. There’s a lot of climbing – maybe too much climbing – as Gollum navigates the areas in and around Mordor, but the obstacles can make for some fun platforming. It remains to be seen if constantly climbing and swinging will get too repetitive by the end of the game, but initially, it offers the kind of verticality and exploration that put games like Uncharted on the map. The other key mechanic – stealth – can take some getting used to as Gollum is not strong and lacks any real defense. If he’s spotted, he will almost certainly die. A great amount of strategy is required in order to throw rocks as distractions, extinguish lamps to slink in the darkness, and find the right routes to get past legions of orcs.
At times, players actually have the chance to take sides – choosing to go with Sméagol’s option or Gollum’s. Generally, Sméagol’s choice is nicer while Gollum’s tend to be mischievous or downright murderous. Still, it’s through this mechanic that players can see the dichotomy of Sméagol/Gollum in a way that feels true to Tolkien’s original vision of the character.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a surprisingly dark game, especially during the Mordor sections, where Gollum is one of many slaves living and dying in the mines of Barad-dûr – a fiery hellscape where one of the first missions is finding tags off of dead slaves’ bodies. This doesn’t quite gel with the character designs in Gollum, which are somewhat cartoonish and can sometimes have an uncanny valley effect. The game is also literally dark – even with the brightness turned up, it’s often hard to distinguish what’s climbable and where a path lies because of how monochromatic and washed out some of the locations are.
Admittedly, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum seems to be fighting an uphill battle. Andy Serkis’ performance in the films has become synonymous with the character (and a major part of pop culture for the last 20-plus years), and there are certainly times when Gollum doesn’t sound or look right because of Serkis’ role. As a protagonist, Gollum often veers into being annoying and is difficult to commiserate with, although a few early cutscenes do attempt to add more depth to the character and make him more relatable.
Still, the premise oddly works once it really gets going. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum doesn’t shy away from how much it relies on Tolkien’s works – and not Peter Jackson’s movies. Anyone who enjoyed LOTR and Tolkien’s novels will probably find Gollum to be fine. Nothing extraordinary or groundbreaking, but an enjoyable stealth platformer that takes Gollum (and players) across some of the more iconic places in Middle-earth.
Screen Rant was provided with a code for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum on PS4/PS5 for the purpose of this review and will assign a numerical rating once the review can be completed.