The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Preview - An Unexpected Precious? - Prima Games

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Preview – An Unexpected Precious?

Do we wants it? Do we needs it?

by Daniel Wenerowicz
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

When The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was first announced, many gamers were wondering what the game would be about, or why Smeagol was chosen as the center character for an upcoming game. To be fair, it’s hard to think of Gollum as the center protagonist, and that included me.

More details eventually came out, and it was revealed that the upcoming Lord of the Rings game from Daedalic Entertainment would be an action-adventure game with plenty of stealth elements. But again, the idea of this hobbit being the main protagonist of an action-adventure felt off for those who had no impressions to work with.

Well, we’ve had the chance to play a short preview of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, and I was surprised, to say the least. I was surprised by the additional mechanics that I would never even think to bring to a game like this. Not only did the mechanics catch me off guard, but so did the world itself with all the attention to Tolkien lore that goes well beyond the movies. I was pleasantly thrown off by what I played and it left me wanting more.

Why Gollum Makes a Great Protagonist

The largest hurdle that Daedalic Entertainment will have with this game is justifying the use of Smeagol as the main character, or convincing players that they really do want to take control of this iconic hobbit. Once the game begins though, you see exactly why this was one of the best choices possible for the vision that Daedalic has.

Gollum is nimble and can climb nearly anything, which was the bare minimum that we would expect from an action-adventure game based on stealth mechanics. This nimble nature also gives players the opportunity to explore the game world, and I assure you that there are hidden paths you can find. These paths can hold bits of Tolkien Lore, collectibles for Gollum to hold onto, or alternative routes to escape danger.

What really makes Smeagol integral, though, is his role within the overall world. We jump into the game shortly after Gollum has been tortured for information. He no longer has the ring and Frodo still hasn’t begun his legendary quest. This is a time when Gollum is stuck in Mordor and so many key characters are after the hobbit as the War of the Ring is set into motion. As perhaps the most important being at this point in time, there are tons of adversaries and plenty of locations to explore.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
Image via Daedelic Entertainment

Out of all the reasons for Gollum to take on the role of main protagonist, the most intriguing one was the use of choice. In The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, there is choice in which paths you take for gameplay, and there is choice in how you speak to characters. Yes, you read that right: There is essentially branching dialogue in the game that allows you to act more like Smeagol or more like Gollum.

Using the split personality of Smeagol and Gollum as a way to offer up player choice was probably the largest surprise of them all, and it worked great. The hobbit fights with himself on how he wants to approach a situation and you get to decide the outcome. No other character has a better built-in reason to force players to choose between acting like a maniac or someone with sympathy.

Tolkien Fans are Welcome in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Lore is likely what most fans of Tolkien, or gamers in general, will be wondering about when they see this game. Is it in the same universe as the movies? When does it take place? How accurate is the game? These are all fair questions, and it seems like Daedalic took the best route they could.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is based on the lore from Tolkien’s stories rather than the moves. In our preview, I was given some time to explore Mirkwood, see the elves, and speak with a certain wizard. They will immediately look different from anything that Peter Jackson brought to the screen. While movie fans will recognize these places to a degree, they are based entirely on the literature, so they are more Tolkien-accurate, which also gives the game more room to expand.

However, it’s clear that some of the designs in levels and within the art that movie inspiration still exists. The scene of Gollum’s interrogation, in particular, brought me back to The Fellowship of the Ring movie almost instantly. Overlap between the books and the movies is obviously going to happen in some aspects, but don’t expect it much.

Instead, the individual levels that you explore as Gollum will be full of lore references to characters and stories from Tolkien. That also means you can expect to see some villains and characters that we never get to see within the films, and is one reason you may want to try the game out if you’re a fan of Tolkien alone.

Concerns Over The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Lore, exploration, and Gollum himself all seem to be the stars of the game so far. This is a world you want to be in and it follows a character that is surprisingly strong in the role, especially with branching choices that affect personality. However, there are still some concerns with the game.

What you’ll get with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is still largely a decent stealth game. You’ll use bushes to remain hidden, plenty of ledges to reach new heights, and there are countless guards to watch out for. Choice exists for some of the stealth sections in each level as well, but that doesn’t change the core gameplay loop. Most of the action in the game will revolve around your standard stealth mechanics, like throwing rocks to distract enemies as another example.

If you like stealth games, then you’ll like many of these sequences, and they reward some crafty behavior as Gollum. Don’t expect insane abilities or stats on your character though. From what we saw in the preview, you will go through most levels using the same tools unless the environment changes.

While I’m not too concerned about the standard stealth, I do wonder about the size of the game. There appears to be around 10-12 levels in the game, give or take based on the preview. There is no open world map, so each level brings you through an overarching path that follows the main narrative. Think of games like Uncharted as a comparison for the flow of the game.

Will this be enough content for a full price tag? At the moment, it’s hard to tell, and I don’t believe it’s the core mechanics that will bring players in. The world, the story, and exploring as Gollum are what really pulled me into the game and made me want more. I can tell you that I’ll be jumping in as soon as I can, especially as a fan of Tolkien and the direction that Daedalic is taking this game.

Related: First Look at The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

But I do struggle with the size of the game, even though that shouldn’t be the metric in most cases. One of my largest concerns is that The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will fall under the 10-hour mark and won’t offer much replayability. Those 10 seem like they are well worth playing, but they also need to be well worth paying for. Once the full game releases, we’ll have a better idea of how well all these qualities can bring the game. So far, they are working in the favor of Gollum and I’d give this a raw fish instead of cooked chips.

About The Author

Daniel Wenerowicz

Dan has been writing gaming guides and news as a staff writer and freelancer since he graduated from Westfield State University in 2020. You can find him covering the FPS and Battle Royale space at Prima Games.

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