Lord of the Rings: Gollum preview: Catch him if you can

We had the opportunity to demo Lord of the Rings: Gollum at PAX East 2023 and it certainly left an impression on us.

Daedalic Entertainment

I wouldn’t call myself a hardcore Lord of the Rings fan per se, but I’m familiar enough with the series to understand and appreciate the creative concept behind Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Being able to see Gollum’s side of the story and explore Gollum more as a character is certainly an intriguing premise. One that left me eager to jump into a demo of the game at PAX East 2023.

While certain gameplay elements and aspects of its presentation confused me at times in terms of the thought process behind them, I can’t deny that Lord of the Rings: Gollum is one of the more memorable titles I spent time with at East.

Lord of the Rings: Gollum offers up an interesting mixture of gameplay where, in the demo, Gollum has to scurry around a harsh, rocky mountain landscape, climb up walls and traverse ledges, sneak past foes, and even debate with the two sides of himself (Gollum and Sméagol) as to which actions to take.

LOTR: Gollum screenshot showing Gollum looking out over the rocky ruins leading to Sauron's tower
© Daedalic Entertainment

Traversal elements all work together cohesively and give off a sort of Gollum if he was in an Uncharted game sort of vibe. The sections featuring wall running were a bit odd though, with Gollum going from more restricted movement on the ground to wall running in a manner more befitting a game like Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I also experienced a bizarre graphical issue where Gollum’s face disappeared into a strange blend of pixels for a portion of the demo.

With that being said, it’s still early, and I look forward to seeing how everything turns out in the final release. Visually, the demo boasted a uniquely oppressive, gloomy feel to it from the jump. This, in addition to the misfortune that befalls Gollum at every turn, was extremely effective when it came to making me feel for Gollum as a character.

It also added incentive when it comes to keeping him safe. In the event you fail at something, like if you miss a jump and go plummeting into the abyss, or get spotted by an enemy as you’re sneaking around them within patches of bushes like I did, the game seems to have a solid checkpoint system in place to where you won’t need to do too much backtracking.

LOTR: Gollum screenshot showing Gollum sneaking behind enemies in tall grass
© Daedalic Entertainment

I appreciated this, as I was able to figure out puzzle-solving elements through quick, snappy moments of trial and error. For example, after jumping and falling, I looked around after I respawned and realized I’d missed where the next ledge was and after aiming for that, was able to push forward without issue.

Cutscenes in the demo had a nice, cinematic feel to them which I enjoyed as well. In fact, one of the highlights from the demo for me was a cutscene showing Gollum chasing after a beetle-like bug, with his facial expressions of curiosity and joy as it flies around him and lands near him being nothing short of charming.

It’s a scene that really endeared the game’s presentation of Gollum’s character to me, and showed me more of how the game grasps the importance of presenting this character with depth, care, and nuance. Overall, I really look forward to getting even more time with Lord of the Rings: Gollum in the future, with the game currently set to release on May 25 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Series X|S, and PC.

Senior Editor

Morgan is a writer from the frozen wastelands of Maine who enjoys metal music, kpop, horror, and indie games. They're also a Tetris fanatic who's fiercely competitive in games like Tetris 99... and all games in general. But mostly Tetris. You can follow Morgan on Twitter @Author_MShaver.

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