Daedalic's Gollum Game Promises to be a Precious New Entry to the Franchise

23 Mar 2023

In their yearly press event, publisher Daedalic Entertainment shared new information on their upcoming games, notably their “precious” main title: The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. We got a chance to go hands on with an early build of the game and ask the developers questions about Gollum.

Setting

Contrary to many other games in the franchise’s history which feature the Fellowship or other heroes of Tolkien’s saga, players will take the role of Gollum and explore Middle-Earth from his perspective. Similarly, the timeframe in which the game is set is somewhat special. The game starts shortly after Bilbo has absconded with Sauron’s ring and returned to the Shire while Gollum is alone in a cave, harboring his hatred for the Hobbit and trying to plot a way to get his precious back. Throughout multiple chapters, the game will lead players through the decades leading up to Frodo and Sam’s encounter with Gollum in Mordor.

Gollum serves as an interlude between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, telling the story of a key character in more detail than we have seen thus far. During the playtest and the following Q&A session, the developers made it very clear that Gollum drew all of it’s inspiration and info directly from Tolkien’s work and only embellished where more details were necessary.

Due to the very unique setting, Gollum will meet a series of new and different characters from both sides of the conflict. Players familiar with Gollum’s story may expect to see some familiar faces, though during our play session, we only met Gandalf.

Gameplay

Gollum had spent hundreds of years in the shadows, crawling on all fours through caverns, tunnels, and the like in the search for food and shelter. The game plays homage to that, and Gollum’s physical weakness is offset with his shady nature and agility. Players will be able to sneak, climb, and swim their way through the levels, make use of a variety of items to distract enemies, and even occasionally get the drop on their enemies to take them down directly.

While traversing the world as Gollum is already a very different perspective than fans of the series might be used to, the other core mechanic of the game will push this even further. At different points in the game, the creature known as Gollum will be faced with a choice: to react and act as Gollum or as Smeagol, his former Hobbit persona.

These choices can be as little as a simple reply in a dialogue that will determine how other characters around the player will react, or they can lead to a full fight between Smeagol and Gollum and you will have to argue for the side you picked. During one of the sections we played, choosing Gollum’s side meant that the other characters around him stopped speaking in the common language and became more guarded and hostile towards the player. Playing nice with whoever you’re interacting with on the other hand may, on the other hand, lead to Gollum overhearing dialogues that can lead to secrets or just interesting tidbits about the world.

Overall Impression and Thoughts

As a fan of the Lord of the Rings who read the books, watched the movies, and played at least a handful of the games, my expectations on this game were reasonably high. Seeing – and especially hearing – the characters for the first time helped to allay most of my concerns coming in, and talking with Daedalic’s Tolkien lore expert Damiri Knapheide during the Q&A helped with the rest. Knowing that the Elves I encountered really did speak Quenya not only added to the immersion for me but also speaks to my nerd heart who was tempted to learn the language of the Elves just to make sure I understood what they said no matter the path I choose in the game.

Fans of the movies will have to adjust to the new aesthetics and voices of course, but the voice actor of Gandalf immediately sold me on his performance. While I was taken aback for a second by art style of the Orks, I got used to them fairly quickly and made sure to avoid them just as much as any of the Wood Elves I encountered.

All in all, Gollum looks to be a promising entry in the franchise’s collection of games, offering a new perspective to a very old character with unique gameplay mechanics, new areas to wander, and half a century of story to explore.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will release May 25th, 2023, on PS4/PS5, XBox One/Series S|X, Nintendo Switch and PC.


All images courtesy of Daedalic Entertainment.