This year, Daedalic Entertainment will explore the vast world of Middle-Earth from the perspective of one of its most unique characters. While Gollum is primarily a side character in most Lord of the Rings media, the timid creature is the protagonist in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. I had the chance to play a small slice of the game earlier this month and got a better idea of how the developers are tackling this new angle on an established universe.
An unlikely hero
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum takes place during the events of Fellowship of the Ring, showing us what the creature was up to when the main story wasn’t focusing on him. From my time with the game, even as someone who isn’t too well-versed in The Lord of the Rings, I picked up many references to the events of the books/movies, and the universe at large. There are also some new additions that Daedalic hopes will blend right in with the world Tolkien built.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is an action-adventure game with heavy platforming elements. During my demo, I climbed walls, leaped from ledges, and swam. There are some environmental puzzles that players must solve in order to access certain locations, and I found a collectible item in a hidden area that I discovered by leaping onto a couple of stone arches. Gollum might not be a fighter, but he uses his nimbleness to his advantage.
Beneath the surface
There are also stealth sequences where I had the hide in the tall grass Assassin’s Creed-style to avoid detection from enemies. In some cases, I had to wait for characters to change positions or walk away before I could scurry past them. I was also able to throw rocks and create distractions so that enemies wouldn’t spot me.
What stood out the most to me during my time with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was the way the game portrays the Gollum/Smeagol relationship. As both characters fight for control of the same body, their diametrically opposed personalities shine through when faced with important decisions. Smeagol and Gollum represented the Angel and Devil on my shoulder, respectively. Siding with Smeagol was usually the friendly, positive outcome, while siding with Gollum was much more negative and bleak.
Not only would this choice impact the voice line and its delivery, but it also impacted character actions. Whichever side was currently in control was depicted by either a dark or light emblem in the corner of my screen. If I chose an option that was opposite to whoever was currently in control, there would be a brief conversation puzzle in which I had to convince them. It really highlights the character’s most memorable trait, and I’m curious to see how it’s expanded upon in the full game.
To rule them all
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is trying to take a stab at LotR lore from a fresh angle. From my brief demo, it was clear that platforming and exploring the internal struggle between Gollum and Smeagol are key points of emphasis for Daedalic Entertainment. I'm curious to see how the final product turns out when it launches later this year.
Donovan Erskine posted a new article, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum highlights the character's internal struggle