The Lord of the Rings: Gollum PC Review

A failure so great, not even Gandalf has hope for it.

By R3GR3T, Posted 30 May 2023

Daedalic Entertainment has been around for quite some time, and while they’ve had a few bad releases, they’ve mostly had good ones. It doesn’t take much to say just how clean their track record is with great games like the Deponia series released over the years, Decay: The Mare from 2015, or Barotrauma from March 2023. However, after nearly endless teasing and hype, a very short time after their latest release, they finally dropped The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. While it might be a somewhat controversial game built around a less than popular character, the developers’ hearts were in the right place but… This seems to be proof as to why you should never rush something of this size.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Review, Screenshots, Third-Person, Adventure, NoobFeed

Now, while this is supposed to be a review. It comes with a heavy heart and a lot of displeasure to say that the game is so badly optimized that it is damned near unplayable. However, the show must go on, so here’s what we could gleam from what had the potential to be a good game.

We’ve all seen The Lord of the Rings and the stories for all the characters, but one character that never had his story told was Gollum, or more commonly known as Smeagol. This is where The Lord of the Rings: Gollum comes in to tell his story, the struggles he had to endure, the things he lost, all in pursuit of The Precious. The One Ring.

The story starts with Gollum trapped in an elvish prison, either awaiting execution or worse, until his conversation with himself is interrupted by the wizard (Good ol’ Gandalf). As you all know, Smeagol and Gollum are one and the same, a split personality. The wizard asks him for his name, though he doesn’t have much luck with that. So, the wizard instead starts telling us Gollum’s story based on what he knew and how Bilbo Baggins took something from him. This is when Gollum starts talking and where you take control of Smeagol / Gollum in the past, in the Shadow Mountains of Mordor.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Review, Screenshots, Third-Person, Adventure, NoobFeed

This is where you also jump into the tutorial, while that takes place, Gollum / Smeagol still ramble and talk to each other. The conversation and sometimes arguments never stop between them, it does keep things interesting at least. Unfortunately, this is where the actual content comes to a screeching halt because as mentioned before, the game is quite badly optimized and tends to stutter or even lag at the worst of times, causing wild camera movements at the slightest nudge. Sadly, just this alone makes the game incredibly frustrating to play, let alone enjoy.

Though once again, the show must go on and while the game might be virtually unplayable for most, there are at least other sources to gleam some useful information from and at the very least, build an opinion based on that. To start this epic adventure, you’ll see that the world in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is actually relatively huge and with a huge world, you’ll naturally need some speed.

Gollum might not look the part but sprinting and jumping are going to be your most used tools in this game, and climbing of course. While this works well, Gollum isn’t a god and still needs to catch his breath. Gollum’s stamina does, unfortunately run out pretty quickly but it recharges just as quickly. At first glance, the game does seem rather linear, at least until you finish the tutorial. From there, the world expands a bit more and you’ll need to make your way to your objective by climbing, and sometimes jumping over chasms.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Review, Screenshots, Third-Person, Adventure, NoobFeed

Where getting around takes an unexpected approach for Gollum is that he can run up walls to reach high ledges or even along the sides of walls. For a creature like Gollum, this is definitely a new feat for him but it does also open your options for travel.

Naturally, unlike an Orc, Gollum is a feeble little creature. However, you can’t be expected to run away the whole time, you can also sneak around to avoid attracting unnecessary or possibly attention and use the foliage to hide. In situations where you’d be outmatched, this comes in handy, but even more so if you’re scouting out and waiting for the right opportunity to Throttle enemies that would stand in your way. Sneaking around and hiding aren’t your only options to get by or set a nice trap, sometimes you’ll have to move your prey to a better position with a well thrown rock.

Now for the part that everybody loves about Gollum. For such a small creature, his inner rage does give him some advantage in throttling enemies. You can essentially sneak up on enemies like Orcs and throttle them, removing them for good. However, this does leave you open to attack from other nearby enemies, so caution is advised. Though, this is still the thing that everybody loves about Gollum, that unholy rage to strangle anything he considers to be a threat.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, Review, Screenshots, Third-Person, Adventure, NoobFeed

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum features an absolutely beautifully crafted world for you to explore but it comes with a few threats as well. It’s quite clear that the developers did put a lot of work into bringing the scenery from the books and movies to life in this game. Not only that but the enemies you’ll face off against are just as beautifully created. As for Gollum himself, he might quite look like the Gollum we all knew before this game came to be, his animations are actually quite well done and deserve some praise. Sadly, there are missing details from characters like the wizard and in several other parts as well where the details don’t quite fit.

The one aspect of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum that didn’t disappoint is the sound engineering and voice acting. First off, the Gollum voice acting is perfect right from the start, and it just gets better when Gollum and Smeagol start talking to each other. The ambient sound of the world around you might come off as a bit too silent, it doesn’t draw away from the game and instead focuses more on Gollum along with what’s currently going on. While the game is a mess in its current state, the sound engineering and voice acting do count as a big saving grace.

Overall, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum had nearly endless potential to be great but it instead became the prime example of why beta testing a game before release is important. With issues like stuttering or momentary lag spikes all pointing to a severe lack of optimization, this game was doomed to be a flop from the start. The only hope for this game now is not just a quick patch but a massive overhaul to fix its biggest issues.

Jay Claassen (@R3GR3T_3NVY)
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS5, XBSX, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Developer(s): Daedalic Entertainment
Genres: Action-Adventure, Stealth
Themes: Fantasy
Release Date: 2023-05-25

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