Aside from the game being a total failure in a technical sense, thanks to numerous bugs and issues that will cause the game to perform far worse than it should, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum ultimately feels like a game that never should have come out and that nobody wanted. It is an unwelcome return to the days when licensed games were synonymous with low quality. As a consequence of bleak gameplay, messy story, and unacceptable technical issues, making your way through the 12-hour campaign is as much fun as walking barefoot across the fiery plains of Mordor.
In 2019, Daedalic Entertainment and Nacon announced The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, a stealth platformer set in the LOTR universe where players take control of the series’ most tragic character, Gollum. It is not every day that we get an adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work, is it? When Daedalic announced a game that would have an emphasis on stealth, set in the Lord of the Rings universe after nearly two decades of mostly making point-and-click adventure games, there were some questions about how it would turn out. Unfortunately, Gollum is one of the worst games this franchise has seen so far, which saw the light of day at the end of May.
You’ll Be “Doomed” to the Dungeons of Mordor if You Start Playing the Title
The experience of playing Gollum is worse and darker than the dark corridors and dungeons of Mordor, which you will be condemned to if you choose to play this game.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a terribly confusing game at best. It is unimpressive, it does not work properly in many situations, it is repetitive, the gameplay is frustrating, and worst of all, the game is tiring and boring. At all times, Gollum feels like a game held together by duct tape that was rushed out the door when it should have stayed in the concept stage. This game is not so much a “who asked for this” question, as a Styx-esque Gollum game sounds good on paper. Not long after you start the game, you will be asking yourself, “How could this game even be released?” That is a very good question, but an even better question is, “How could Daedalic get a license to make a LOTR game?”
Does the Game Have Any Good Sides or Is It All Negative?
Well, it can be said that there are some good things. The musical backdrop is… good. It is not great, but it is good (though it is marred by the horrendously bad interpretation of Gollum’s voice). In some situations, the music will contribute quite well to the dark and gloomy atmosphere of Mordor, which is definitely a plus. In such situations, when the game actually runs at about 30 frames per second, when it does not crash for half an hour, or when you do not fall through the platform, you can get the impression that you are playing a perfectly fine game from the LOTR world. Not a game anyone would want to play, but let us say a good spin-off.
The checkpoint system is also somewhat good. It works just fine, which means you will not have to go through parts of the game where the game crashes for God knows what reason as often. But, unfortunately, we cannot think of any other pluses of the game. Yes, it is a good thing that the morality system affects what kind of ending you ultimately get. However, if you have played the last game, or if you have had that misfortune, or if you are a die-hard, stubborn fan of all Lord of the Rings-related things, then you have probably seen that none of the endings make much sense.
Now that we have dealt with the positive aspects of the game, let us move on to the negatives, that is, to those aspects that make The Lord of the Rings: Gollum definitely, at least for now, rightly bear the epithet of the worst game for 2023, and probably beyond.
Stuttering, Crashing the Game, Technical Problems at Every Step…
All of the above, in addition to the inevitable crashing of the computer due to a sudden increase in temperature, will become inevitable factors of dissatisfaction as you play Gollum.
First off, it is a game that came out on the Unreal Engine in 2023, which means it is full of stuttering, drastic framerate changes, and a basic graphics settings menu that is both vague and confusing. There is also no way to limit the frame rate to a fixed number, meaning players will have to deal with a game that jumps unbalanced from 40 fps to 60 fps, to even 120 fps at times, and generally makes jumps in the number of frames per second about the same jumps that Gollum does throughout most of this game.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum does a terrible job. Even if you have an RTX 3080 or 4080, do not even think about using the Ray Tracing feature. In addition to not giving the game any visual improvements, even if you have a powerful computer, turning on Ray Tracing will cause the game not only to stutter more but also to crash, that is, to show “fatal errors”. It also happened to us once that the computer got so hot that it restarted itself. Incredibly.
The system requirements of the game until launch showed that the recommended and minimum specifications for Gollum changed from RTX 3060 to RTX 4070 and then to RTX 3070; be careful if you want to play the game on medium settings at 1080p resolution. But the truth is that there is nothing shown in this game that requires such absurd system requirements. Honestly, the game is ugly. The textures are low resolution, and the character models have an absurdly low polygon count. If you take a closer look at the world, it will seem like Gollum is a PS3 game, with PS2 elements. To make matters worse, the user interface is complicated and clunky to use. But that is not the worst. The worst thing is that, as you play the game, it will seem like Gollum just “gives up”. It is like he is sending you a subconscious message: “Do not play me. Just turn me off and get out. Enjoy nature, sea, sun, summer. Run away from me.” And trust us, sometimes it is very hard to resist doing just that.
On multiple occasions, Gollum and whoever he is talking to at the time simply stop moving their mouths mid-sentence, and the dialogue continues as if whoever was in charge of animating this sequence said “I am done, I am going to take a break” and forgot the next day where they left off. There is an almost unreal feeling that comes from watching scenes where two characters stare into each other’s soulless eyes, exchange half-hearted voice lines and move like robots, while the audience knows that this entire sequence can be interrupted at any moment. And this happens regularly.
Although the Game Is Technically Bad, at Least the Gameplay Is Terrible (Ironically, of Course)
In terms of gameplay, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is all about frantic questing. The game opens with Gollum trapped in the Dark Tower by Sauron’s forces eight years before the events of the book trilogy. From here, about a third of the game consists of Gollum following someone and then pressing a button or pulling a switch, in order to perform certain slave labor. The slave labor in question includes activities such as collecting tags from dead prisoners or feeding piranhas in lakes. In some of the more interesting sequences, Gollum leads the animals into the enclosure before returning all the way to his cell to sleep. Very interesting isn’t it?
At one point, the game takes away Gollum’s ability to run so he cannot just dash past everything and has to trudge and climb through drab and poorly designed rooms to pick up more tags from the corpses of prisoners. Taking away the one thing that was speeding up this whole process seemed like a cruel joke. The most difficult enemies that players will encounter throughout The Lord of the Rings: Gollum are the controls and the camera.
This game is not difficult at all, and the only times it really feels like a challenge is when the game’s general jumping abilities seem to almost work against the player. The camera, controls, and Gollum’s platforming abilities combine to create something that is almost always geared against the player’s success. It is as if the game does not want you to beat it, which can be one of the reasons why you get stuck and decide to beat it at all costs.
Gollum Just Appears to Be a LOTR Game, but It Actually Isn’t
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a game from the LOTR world that just appears to be a LOTR game, when in fact it is a game that no one needed or wanted. It kind of ruins the reputation of action-adventure games, which were considered the most popular gaming genre, along with shooters (they and MOBA games are the two most popular eSports genres for both competing and betting on specialized platforms, such as the best PNG online betting sites) in 2022 by Statista.
Although the announcements gave certain chances to this game, after the release it turned out that it was all just a smokescreen. The veil that was covered over our eyes, which, after we removed it shows all the negative sides of this game, of which there are many. Honestly, we do not know what Daedalic was thinking when they designed this game. What we do know is that this is an experience that should be forgotten as soon as possible.