The Lord of the Rings Gollum is anything but cute

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is anything but cute. review

Played on Xbox Series S

When Daedalic Entertainment announced a 3D adventure based on The Lord of the Rings, it took many by surprise. Yes, the team has dabbled in different genres at times, but most of all they’re known for quests like Deponia, which require far fewer resources to create. The team, which does not have much experience, has set itself a very difficult task – in addition to developing a good game, you need to please even the most demanding fans of the most famous universe. As you could have guessed from the trailers and early screenshots, there were troubles in achieving that goal, to say the least – The Lord of the Rings: Gollum proved to be a Redfall-level disaster, and there’s nothing to beat it for could only praise .

Looking for pluses

It’s not at all that the game looks clumsy and cheap – you can’t watch Gollum without tears, and the ability to turn on “hair simulation” in the settings seems like a mockery. Gollum as a whole proved odd – going through one chapter at a time it seems like the developers had no idea what they had to do and why they agreed to work with Middle-earth Enterprises, which owns the rights to The Lord of the rings. You must have immediately accepted the offer to work on a game set in the Professor’s universe, but this is how the game should look like… we’ll find out along the way!

    Something like this looks like a person who has spent more than an hour in Gollum

Something like this looks like a person who has spent more than an hour in Gollum

Sometimes the novelty resembles three-dimensional adventures like Uncharted and Tomb Raider: you can climb walls, hold on to ledges, swing on beams and so on. The character can even walk over walls! There is no originality in this: the necessary walls and ledges are either covered with white paint, or barely glow, so you will surely notice them. But that’s not so bad – if in such games logic is usually visible in the design of locations (either we climb through pipes, then along fallen pillars), then here the objects with which you can interact are arranged chaotically. Why do some walls seem to be embroidered with thick threads and you can climb them? Why are the beams placed in such a way that acrobats rather than orcs live in the cave? You ask yourself these questions all the time.

Sometimes Gollum turns into a stealth action: hiding in the shadows, crawling under tables, and throwing rocks to distract the guards. At the very beginning, for some reason, the game explains how to quietly take down enemies by approaching them from behind, but in the end you almost never use it – both because many cannot be eliminated at all, and because this process takes about ten seconds lasts . Either another guard will notice you during this time, or it will be much easier and faster to run past it when there is only one enemy in the room. Even if they notice you and you have time to sneak somewhere, nobody will sound the alarm – they will stand still for a few seconds, the question mark above their heads will disappear and life will go on as if nothing happened.

    As in many stealth games, there is a

As in many stealth games, there is a “listening mode” here, which even seems to be useful. The problem is that the screen stays gray for about a minute after using it.

A strange decision was the complete lack of pumps. Gollum doesn’t develop and use the same tricks throughout the game, and there are disastrously few of those tricks to keep interest going until the finale. The monotony quickly tires, especially when we are offered nothing but climbing the walls. Even mundane and hackneyed tricks like platforms collapsing after a jump could brighten up the pastime, but that’s not the case here either – you jump through dirty brown places and regret the time spent.

About nothing

The story could have saved the situation, but the writers obviously didn’t understand what to talk about at all. Even before release, many expressed doubts about how interesting Gollum was as a character, and fears were confirmed. He’s absolutely uninteresting. At least in this game. Nothing happens at all in the first half of Gollum: the character falls into the slave pits beneath the Dark Tower and leads a life of slavery. Wakes up next to exhausted cellmates, goes to do something and then comes back and sleeps.

    The atmosphere is mediocre

The atmosphere is mediocre

The tasks are just surprising: either you’re asked to run from corner to corner and collect some tokens, or you’re forced to crawl through tunnels and load explosives into barrels. Everything is stupidly primitive and pointless, but the game will still have something to “surprise”. So in one episode you have to flee from Boroks (bull-like creatures) and lock them in a cage, and in the other episode you have to remotely control the actions of a cellmate and help him escape from these animals. Surely that’s exactly what The Lord of the Rings fans wanted to do, and the developers have granted them that wish. Yes…

When the tasks are so idiotic, the plot becomes less and less interesting to follow. Gollum falls into slavery and wants to escape – that’s the whole story. At the same time, there is a lot of “water”-filled dialogue – both Gollum’s conversations with himself and the conversations of supporting characters. All the videos on the engine are very poorly done: the camera work is terrible (often the camera is behind the speaker) and there is no dynamic that makes you want to skip plot episodes more and more often – you still don’t hear anything useful.

    Gollum's cellmates aren't very interesting characters either.

Gollum’s cellmates aren’t very interesting characters either.

One of Gollum’s most important “chips” was the ability to choose actions – from time to time the player is offered to respond like Gollum or like Smeagol, that is, be aggressive or polite; show malice or show kindness. In some cases, just choosing one of the options is not enough – it happens that you need to subsequently convince Gollum / Smeagol of the correctness of the solution by choosing the correct answers to his questions. Be that as it may, it’s quite difficult to understand what the exact implications of these measures are and what would change if there were another election. There is a suspicion that the conspiracy would have continued in exactly the same way in any case – either the guard would not have hit you, or one cellmate would have been punished instead of another, and so on. Because the consequences are not obvious, these moral dilemmas are easily overlooked.

So it turns out that praising any element of the game is impossible. The novelty is more like the creation of a neural network, which should create a three-dimensional action using stealth and wall climbing, and it created a cliche adventure that against the background of numerous competitors does not even try to offer anything new. In terms of gameplay, it is literally a game from the decade before last, although even then it would not have met the generally accepted quality standards. Whatever mechanic you choose, it either doesn’t work or raises a lot of questions that don’t allow you to enjoy the game.

    Without a foothold, Gollum begins to lose stamina, though this is rarely rectified.

Without a foothold, Gollum begins to lose stamina, though this is rarely rectified.

The project also looks bad and even repulsive. Gollum himself is an outwardly unpleasant character that you don’t want to control, you have to. He wasn’t handsome in the movies either, but he evoked at least some emotions other than disgust. Here, too, he is so badly animated that you don’t feel like looking at him. At the same time, his animations are better than everyone else’s – they didn’t spend time and resources on secondary heroes at all, they sometimes don’t even move. Well, the locations are as boring as can be – gray or brown caves with smudged textures and repetitive objects.

Surprisingly, the game almost never crashes on the PlayStation 5. The “hair simulation” mentioned above makes it unstable, but as soon as you turn it off, the problem goes away. And the frame rate stays more or less at the same level. It’s strange to be happy about tweaks when it comes to a release of this quality, but the system requirements for the PC version are absurdly high – there was a suspicion that everything would be very bad on consoles with “brakes”. It turned out that this is not the case – at least a certain plus.

    Although the icons at the bottom of the screen indicate several stages of persuasion, sometimes you get it right the first time

Although the icons at the bottom of the screen indicate several stages of persuasion, sometimes you get it right the first time


There are bad games that you can only play for a laugh, but The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is not one of them – with its pathetic nature, it will depress you more than it will cheer you up. It is curious that the project was originally supposed to be released back in 2021, but since then the release has been delayed three times. What did he look like two years ago when everything is so bad now? And why wasn’t development stopped when it was clear that nothing was working? Questions one doesn’t even want to seek the answers to, Gollum came across as so bland and sterile.


  • surprisingly stable on PS5;
  • Gollum has a good voice.


  • primitive graphics of the last generation;
  • primitive design of sites;
  • primitive stealth;
  • primitive action;
  • Even the interface is primitive.


Comments are probably unnecessary – from the screenshots you can understand that graphically the game lags behind by several generations of consoles. The presence of a “hair simulation” looks particularly funny – of course, very appropriate for a bald-headed main character.


The music is so unobtrusive that it doesn’t seem to exist. Gollum has a good voice – the actor tried, although he probably understood what fate awaited the project.

single player game

3D action game with climbing and stealth – if such a description sounds tempting, it is better not to touch the game, because it bears no comparison with other representatives of the genre.

Estimated travel time

12 hours.

collective game

Not provided.

general impression

There have been enough bad games this year, but against the backdrop of Gollum, they all don’t look like a loss. Why Daedalic decided to taint its portfolio in such a way is completely incomprehensible.

Score: 2.0/10

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    About the author

    Alan Foster

    Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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