The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review - So Far From Precious
Image Source: Daedalic Entertainment via Twinfinite

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review – So Far From Precious

A new thing to pitch into the fires of Mount Doom.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum on PS5

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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was a big surprise to fans when it was revealed a few years ago. It seemed like something that no one was asking for, but it still provided a decent concept. As a game based on the unknown movements of Gollum from The Hobbit until Fellowship of the Ring. this should’ve been something that might have broad appeal from the casual viewer to the most fervent Lord of the Rings fan. As it turns out, the game itself feels like it wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) appeal to anyone, ever.

Gollum Forest Location
Image Source: Daedalic Entertainment via Twinfinite

The story starts with Gollum locked in a cell and being interrogated by a very insistent Gandalf. This then serves as the narrative frame that takes players back to Gollum’s days on the mountains of Cirith Ungol. He spends his days dodging Orcs, Ring Wraiths, and the hulking spider Shelob. This is before he is captured and imprisoned in the tower of Barad-dûr.

However, this setup only holds up for the first chapter and completely disappears for the next several. Unsurprisingly, the story does come full circle. Though, the game doesn’t show how Gollum came to be captured by the elves in Mirkwood. Instead, that is delivered in only a couple sentences of expository text at the start of the related chapter. There’s a brief related mention in a line of dialogue, but otherwise, it happens entirely off-screen.

There’s no real way to describe the gameplay itself other than simple fare that quickly became dull. You jump, you climb, you crawl, you sneak, and you can throw rocks to serve as a distraction. There’s nothing that Gollum can do that felt unique to the character. Though, I will say he’s got some crazy agility when it comes to massive jumps. This also had a drawback, as it’s incredibly easy to overshoot a jump and die due to his acrobatic prowess.

The one highlight is that Gollum possesses a special extra-sensory vision ability that makes everything almost photo-negative. It pinpoints enemy locations and gives suggestions on a path to take. It was the best tool for getting around in the areas with more dense enemy patrols. Plus, it highlights areas that make Gollum practically invisible to enemies who aren’t fully alert.

Gollum Vision
Image Source: Daedalic Entertainment via Twinfinite

The controls don’t do maneuvering any favors either, as there are so many times I would be climbing a ladder or a long mess of vines and get to the top, only for Gollum to jump straight up into the air instead of clambering over the ledge. This was especially frustrating when that same ladder was my only hope of escape after alerting the enemies. One mistaken long jump and I was guaranteed to be dead.

Not exactly a control issue, but there are many times simply walking Gollum forward would be met with difficulty. There were far too many occasions where he would just stop entirely like there was some invisible obstacle. This was also bad during the tight tunnel sections that go first-person where there were corners, as he would just get hung up entirely. It would eventually fix itself, but it always took a few seconds to correct.

Checkpoints in the game are extremely inconsistent, which is almost unfair with how easily you can die. Sometimes I would find myself only a few feet behind where I met my demise, but other times I was forced to do a long section over again. I figured out that checkpoints worked by unlocking behind me after a certain distance rather than right as I reached them.

As for graphics, there were many times I couldn’t believe I was playing a game that was actually coming out in 2023. Between the pretty terrible textures and regularly substandard character designs, the game doesn’t offer any compelling visuals. As with all modern games, it does offer a Quality mode, but the scant few times I tested it, I couldn’t tell any difference.

Gollum and Sméagol Deliberating
Image Source: Daedalic Entertainment via Twinfinite

I will give the story some credit, though. Even if it feels like no one asked for this game, Gollum is still an interesting character. There will be moments in dialogue where you choose either Gollum or Sméagol’s reply, and then you go into another bit of choices where one side has to convince the other. This is quite neat, but I never got the impression that my dialogue choices mattered even a little bit in the grand scheme of things.

For the most part, Lord of the Rings plays just fine. However, something absolutely damning happened to me more than once: I hit two separate game-breaking bugs that forced me to restart an entire chapter. The first bug happened a few chapters in when I died from a fall. Instead of letting me checkpoint back to safety, the game checkpointed me dying from a fall in an area where I hadn’t even died. It looked like it checkpointed me falling through the map. This meant I would restart from the checkpoint and instantly die in an infinite loop.

The second bug was in the game’s final chapter when trying to complete a puzzle. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the puzzle, and restoring the checkpoint wasn’t helping. So I did the normal thing: I closed out of the game and started it back up. Unfortunately, this only made things worse.

No options would work whenever I interacted with the puzzle, and I couldn’t even get out of it. I could still restart from the checkpoint, but it just put me back before a broken puzzle. This made me incredibly reticent to start the chapter all over because, near as I could tell, there wasn’t a guarantee it wouldn’t happen again.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum doesn’t do anything fun or interesting like similar (better) games such as A Plague Tale: Innocence and Requiem. It’s hard to say if even the most loyal Lord of the Rings fans would actually find something worthwhile here. Considering good Lord of the Rings games exist, this one feels incredibly out of place.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum doesn't do anything fun or interesting than similar (better) games like A Plague Tale: Innocence and Requiem. To be honest, this feels like a game made just to ensure the publisher could retain rights to the IP. It's hard to say if even the most loyal Lord of the Rings fans would actually find something worthwhile here. Considering good Lord of the Rings games exist, this one feels incredibly out of place.
Pros
  • Interactions between Gollum and Sméagol are interesting.
  • Gollum's vision ability was useful.
Cons
  • Inconsistent checkpoints.
  • Game-breaking bugs.
  • Basic, dull gameplay.
  • Control issues.
  • Quality mode doesn't make a noticeable difference.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review. Reviewed on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC.

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Author
Cameron Waldrop
Cameron is a freelance writer for Twinfinite and regularly covers battle royales like Fortnite and Apex Legends. He started writing for Twinfinite in late 2019 and has been lucky enough to review many really great games. While he loves a good shooter, his heart will always belong to JRPGs.