The Lord of the Rings: Gollum poses itself as an epic quest across the treacherous realms of Middle-earth, where an inner conflict will rage inside the mind of one halfling. Of course we refer to the split-personality of both Smeagol and Gollum, an integral character across both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings stories. Filling in the blanks between both of those tales, Daedalic's third-person stealth platformer will let you take control of the titular menace as he continues his never-ending search for his precious ring. Sadly, the only precious thing about our time with Gollum was the hope that one day we'd eventually finish the game, uninstall it from our PS5, and never think about it again.
As you may have been able to surmise then, we're not big fans of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Across its roughly 10-hour campaign, we were subjected to some of the most dated and disastrously dull stealth and platforming segments that we've seen in a game in quite some time. In fact, we didn't even get through all the story chapters. Nine chapters in (out of 10), we encountered a game breaking bug that stalled our progression and left us unable to complete the game before embargo. We reached out to Daedalic Entertainment for any help in this matter, but as of writing are yet to hear back.
By the time this game-breaking bug emerged from the shadows, however, we were hardly surprised. That's because from start to (not quite) finish, we experienced a bevy of bugs that not only impeded our experience, but led to several game crashes and fresh app restarts: catching on invisible objects; getting stuck in death loops; characters disappearing from the game's cutscenes; and being unable to interact with vital mission objects. Frankly, it's a mess, and it felt like we were getting a glimpse into what should have been an early, early build of a game with a desperate need for more time in the oven.
This made it all the harder to work through the game's (almost) 10 story chapters, which severely lack any sense of variety. Each chapter, which lasts around an hour, consists of a rotation of stealth, platforming, and fetch quest levels, where the only real mix-up is the location, but it isn't afraid of making you retread old ground either. Regardless of whether it took us to the fiery pits of Mount Doom, or the Elven kingdom of Mirkwood, it was difficult not to run into some kind of issue. Sometimes it was the dodgy controls during prolonged climbing sections that sent us to our death time and time again, and others it was the brutal yet mind-numbingly dumb AI in near-instant fail stealth levels that left us wanting to throw our DualSense at the TV, like a rock aimed at Samwise Gamgee's head. Eventually, it all becomes a fever dream of repetition, not helped by the fact that nearly half of its campaign is set in the same linear location.
Despite its repetition, we were still left scratching our heads as to where to go at times. The level design feels messy in that way, never truly leading you down a set path. This meant we were often jumping for ledges that caused us to double back or land back where we started. In the slightly more open levels, we sometimes felt like we accidentally happened upon our destination. Some levels even included a bird's eye view of the layout, where the camera would sweep across your intended route. We have a sneaking suspicion this was a feature added in later to counter the often confusing level design. Don't get us wrong, it's never maze-like, we always generally knew where we were supposed to go. However, whereas most linear games feel almost natural in your discoveries, Gollum never feels quite right.
However, that brings us onto the IP that the game is set within. The world of J.R.R. Tolkien is filled to the brim with fantastical settings and dollops of lore that could potentially break through even the dullest of gameplay loops. It's a shame, then, that Gollum is not concerned whatsoever with tapping into that, and truthfully doesn't even feel like The Lord of the Rings. With the odd appearance from someone like Gandalf, or the mere mention of Aragorn, the references within are so vapid that it feels tailored to someone that had once sort of watched the films while they were on in the background.
Narratively, there's also nothing here that feels remotely consequential to the wider world. Instead, we're offered affirmations on events that we suspected, leading it all to feel rather pointless, like Daedalic wasn't really allowed to touch anything too substantial within the Lord of the Rings universe. Understandably, that's potentially more of a legal/canonical restriction than something that Daedalic should be blamed for, but it is a shame because there was such potential within this character and setting. We would have loved to have heard Orcs discuss world events, spy intricate details referencing aspects of the books, or visit locales ripped straight from the films. But it's all so bland that it barely feels like it's set within the same places that Sam and Frodo destroyed the One Ring, or a collection of Dwarves made their daring barrel-based escape.
The game does try to tap into mechanics specific to the character of Gollum, like the intermittent choices you can make which side with either of his personalities. There's something interesting there, especially when it makes you argue your point to convince either Smeagol or Gollum. It's helped by the performance which, while Andy Serkis-less, manages to not feel too derivative, especially as you settle into the game. However, like almost everything else, it doesn't feel properly developed. After a couple of goes you'll steadily realise your choices boil down to the same outcome mechanically. We also never had a time where we lost an argument to the other side, so the answers we chose never seemed all too important. Maybe we're just really good at arguing our side.
The graphical presentation then tops it all off. In motion it doesn't look too bad, and the game's Performance Mode maintains a steady 60 frames per second. However, it can actually be shocking how unpolished and just outright bad everything can look. There are options for a Quality Mode, and a Quality Mode with Ray-Tracing, but the game crashed multiple times on these modes, so we didn't experience them much. We understand that Daedalic might not have the biggest budget for the game, but everything looks muddy and definitively PS3 era, which is especially disappointing considering how fragmented the levels are with multitudes of loading screens. It certainly doesn't feel like a game utilising the power of the PS5, despite its decent use of DualSense haptics.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a broken mess of a game. There are barely any redeeming qualities to be found amidst what can only be described as a massive missed opportunity. There is some serious potential in a single-player linear Lord of the Rings experience like this, but with outrageously dated level design, clunky controls, a severe lack of polish, muddy and unimpressive graphics, and a dull story, Gollum completely misses the mark. As massive fans of the books, films, and games, it's sad to see that there is nothing precious about this experience.
Not really surprising.
Aint no way Daedalic Entertainment will survive this. Too bad for them because they made some great Point and Click Games...
So you don't recommend messing with Gollum's ring?
Damn, that's a low rating. Really wish Daedalic wasn't behind this, their previous games were much better suited to them apparently.
I saw constant 60fps mentioned in review so that's a day 1 purchase for me
I was really excited for this. What a shame.
It makes you wonder how these games even get greenlit. Who, even the most diehard of Lord of the Rings fan, ever wanted to play as Gollum in a game?
oh wow i didn't expect it to be THAT bad
Wow! That's just brutal!
Nice to see in some respects. I feel the games media are way too fast to over look issues with games - particularly with storied franchises and so reviews feel less useful as a result.
So while I don't want to see bad games, I do want to see bad games get slammed.
I think everyone saw this coming, at least Gollum’s voice isn’t someone trying to sound like Andy Serkis, whose Gollum was all too like John Byner as Gurgi in The Black Cauldron.
Ouch. I knew this looked rubbish but I was not expecting it to turn out to be quite that rubbish.
Whoever thought this abomination was a good idea shouldnt work again in gaming. Seemed sh*t from the start. Imagine having the opportunity to work on a lotr (godfather of modern epic fantasy) game and you make it about gollum!!😡
Who the heck think it's a good idea to make a lotr game about gollum, why? Just make open world aragorn games or wb middle earth shadow of mordor series-like games.
I wasn’t expecting much tbh… having said that I was thinking maybe a 6… but a 2! Wow, that’s some bad game design right there.
When the very first screenshots appeared, it looked like a PS3 game. I was hoping that things would improve, but, as we see it...
Daedalic should go back to making point-and-click games, seems that 3D is some uncharted territory for them.
Thanks for the review - I won't buy this game.
Im surprised this wasn’t promoted at the PlayStation showcase. It would have matched the quality.
Nobody wants to be a Gollum. Not even Gollum.
Who watched LOTR, saw Gollum and said, "I want to play as him in a video game!"? Who was this for?
Imagine the meeting in pre-production
"We've got LOTR! Whos going to be the main character? Maybe Aragorn, Legolas, Gandalf? Maybe an evil game with an Orc or something cool!"
"Nah man I've got it. You know Gollum?"
"Gollum? The pathetic character that is essentially just a little weasel sneak who everyone hates? He's also pretty annoying to talk to and has no powers or anything interesting you could utilize in gameplay?"
"Yeah! Him! Greenlight it!"
Sigh I so wanted this to be good or even half decent. It felt like an intriguing premise. I was rooting for it but ouch. This sounds like a huge miss.
That first screenshot, of the two eleven things, it’s from the PS3 version of Shadow of Mordor, right? It was a mistake that it was slipped into this review, correct?
Wow... I thought it's a 6/10 game. This is unexpected.
Sub header for the review could simply say "As expected"
Removed - inappropriate language
Yikes. Sounds dreadful. I was actually kind of interested in trying this eventually but now I'm not so sure. If I do it's going to have to be on a steep steep sale.
I still may give this a try as I just picked up a shiny new 1080P gamer screen.
Oof. Wasnt this delayed 8 months for 8 for polish? Theyd have been better off starting from scratch by the looks of it XD
Damn that's not good, I've got the game coming today from my rental subscription so il still give it a go but this worse than what I was expecting, I knew it wouldn't be great maybe a 6 or 7 but for it to be given a 2/10 makes it the worse game this year surely.
Seems like it was made for the sake of being made then. Damn.
Suspected it's gonna be a mediocre game, but not this bad...
It seems that the desire for a quick money grab and/or the FOMO (regarding a good enough release date, trying to stay away from renowned IP launches) strike the dev teams and publishers more and more these days.
Releases leave the studios way before they are properly polished, sometimes even before they're finished, like this game here... it's sad and awful at the same time, for them and for us, the paying customers.
Steam has the right idea, with testing a game for free for 1h30' before buying. Here's hoping the other main platforms end up offering something similar, to spare us from the sometimes difficult refund process.
Seems to have got its priorities wrong it has 60fps and haptics! Everything else crud.
A rushed game is forever bad, and a delayed game....well they can be just as bad judging by this. Yikes 😬
Sounds like they were aiming for a retro movie license game and excelled at it.
Well, I guess if you can survive this, you automatically become an ultimate LotR fan. I bought a Xena game on ps2 which quite frankly deserved a -1.
No surprises there. One less game to add to my backlog.
I never understand when a big game gets a 2,I mean I presume the devs are gamers and the game goes through playtesting etc,so did nobody say, hey fellas this is absolute crap.
Removed - discussing moderation
All the months or years of work for a 2. I hope they don't get too demoralised and are focusing on their next project with renewed vigor.
@Nepp67 me neither. Who the f*** thought people want to play as Gollum anyway? Honestly better make a new LOTR game like the ones on PS3.
Seen this coming a MILE off. I asked my Discord if Gollum would be worse reviewed than Redfall and all of them said no, couldn't understand why, this looked awful. Currently a 38 on Metacritic. Eeesh!
I liked how you refer to yourself as "we" instead of "I".
Makes it feel like Smeagol/Gollum wrote the review and wasn't too pleased about it!
A real shame. I wasn't expecting the Earth. A decent AA stealth game with a few twists and turns along the way would have been just fine. Why
@AaronBayne why don't you tell us what you really think? 😂
I'm kinda actually impressed they managed to do such a poor job of this without apparently managing to conjure any charm.
@PenguinLtd I don't think that's fair. Gollum is a really interesting character. I'm surprised the ball could be dropped so badly on such a good idea
Wow, first Rings of Power and now this. Forget rolling in his grave, Tolkien’s doing a full acrobatic routine.
I just can’t believe that out of all the small creepy antagonists you chose Gollum. Could have done a proper gremlins, changeling, demon/monster, deformed baby; but no, you went with the LOTR. Gollum, while a complicated character, is by no means a likable role to play.
Wow. The trailers hadn't filled me with much hope, but I wasn't expecting it to be this bad.
What a stupid idea of a game. Is this the beginning of the downfall of videogames?
Remakes, Remasters, sequel upon sequel upon sequel? Shallow quality assurance testing and day one patches for obvious released beta copies going out as "Gold".
Who didn't see this game being powerbombed through three flaming tables before it was released?
This project must be some sort of tax-evasion or tax-avoidance scheme. No reasonable person, in their right mind, would ever green-light something like this.
This game looked horrendous from the get go. Gollum looks like a rejected Muppet. This seemed like a failed attempt at a quick money grab trying to piggyback off of the Amazon show with hopes the popularity would bring in sales.
My symapthies to the general casual consumer/LOTR fan who purchased this not knowing the horrors within...
I think this is the lowest review score I've seen from you guys 😂 I would have never imagined the game could have turned out THIS terrible, mediocre at least. But wow.
is this the game where the devs want you to pay extra for elvish language?
@MayaMousavi Same here! I'm not even sure I'll ever buy it...maybe if the game ever drops on PS Plus?
@Bunchesopuppies While not likeable, as you say, beneath it all he's a complex character, which could lead to an interesting story, whether you go back to before he turned evil and follow his transition, or if you follow his time helping Frodo and Sam, hoping to get the ring back for himself.
Since I saw this in Edge years ago my overriding thought was 'who wants to play a game as Gollum?!'
The answer remains nobody.
Wasn't this scrap delayed for "polish",
And I would like to know is this horrible being of a thing even that popular that it warrants a game dedicated to him?
2/10 so not even bargain bin quality 🤢
Sounds good, I'll put in a pre order
A 2/10 that isn’t review bombing. Wow. Life of Black Tiger finally has some competition.
To be fair, maybe chapter 10 actually redeems the first 90% of the game. Perhaps the final mission turns into a beautifully crafted adventure with excellent innovative gameplay, exceptional graphics, and a story reveal that will make JRR Tolkien’s estate proud.
I expect an official update with the appropriate apology as soon as the game is patched and you complete it. 😜
This is a rare instance where the game already failed on paper. Perhaps in a larger Lotr game as a little side activity, but an entire game... oof
How did the Tolkien estate sign off on this!? (and please no snark over rings of power, it's getting old)
Yeah, this was worse than I expected. And I expected this game to be crap. Bottom floor expectations. They managed to fail even deeper than that.
After all the delays, you’d figure that the game would at least be functional. They couldn’t even clear that low bar. 😳
Edit: Just as I finished this comment, the official PlayStation YouTube channel put up a behind-the-scenes developer interview video. Big, dramatic music playing over the design team describing baby’s first stealth game. They have levels that are small, as well as levels that are big! You’ll die if you get caught!
The funniest bit was some of footage they were showing had “Beta-Version not final quality” in the corner of the screen. 😂
My god this is as bad as I was expecting, because who wants to play as Gollum from all the LoTR’ characters?
Damn, tell us how you really feel. I don't think I've ever seen a game trashed so bad on this site. I remember some early hype for this game, so positive. Won't be getting it. Thanks.
Damn! That’s bad! Don’t remember anything being reviewed this low on PUSHSQUARE.
Wow......how can a game be released in such a bad state. I know there have been issues of late with poor releases but this sounds like it could be the worst of all. No updates will fix this. Was looking forward to this as well😔
Wow. That's even worse than I imagined. I thought it would at least be a 3.
This is sad.
I do like Daedalic as a developer, but this project was clearly wildly out of their capabilities.
@Sinton True, but the could be said of other creatures and characters in the series. Also, he’s written to be evil/insane. If you wanted a stealth LOTR game, Bilbo was a thief.
@PenguinLtd It's not a bad premise at all, the game just doesn't it justice. If there were a ton of LOTR games released every year, I could see this as a unique take on the franchise. The character is interesting enough, and I think there's some fun stuff you could do story wise.
Was this built on the new Horseshite engine?
Played a bit of this earlier today. Graphically it looks like a PS2 game being upscaled on a PS4, this is the PS5 version too. Level design is straight out of the PS1/PS2 era too, climbing is very basic compared to modern games with grappling points mainly being straight lines that are hilariously obvious that you shimmy along. I also exited a cut scene to instantly be told I had failed an objective I hadn't even had a chance to do. Character's names all seem to have "(off)" beside them on the subtitles for some bizarre reason.
I think it was always going to be tough for it to follow Hogwarts Legacy after it turned out so good but no amount of polish is going to put a shine on this turd.
@PenguinLtd Absolutely me. I really wanted to. But tis not to be.
@RadioHedgeFund @Uromastryx @Ara I love Gollum. The origins behind his character are interesting, and he's used in dynamic ways within the original books. I also have friends who were interested in this game.
Though considering the number of you who are saying nobody likes Gollum, it does seem like he's definitely more disliked than liked, which lends credence to your points. But there are people out there, yeah.
Wooh boy. This game looks like something. LJN would’ve foisted upon us back in the early 1990s.
Maintains 60fps in performance mode:
That's a 10/10 right there for some people
This game always looked like trash. 3 more LotR's games before 2024 is done? Go on Embracer. Milk those IPs
Love Lord of the Rings, loved the Mordor games, who on earth thought a stealth game about Gollum was a good idea in the first place?!! Knew it would be *****, but didn't think it would be this bad!!
@Kevw2006 The 'OFF' addition to character names only appears when the speaker is off screen - at least, that's what happens on PC.
Tap here to load 78 comments
Leave A Comment
Hold on there, you need to login to post a comment...