The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the preview: we saw the game in action

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the preview: we saw the game in action

The Lord of the Rings

The fever for the Lord of the Rings is perhaps not at the levels of the past, yet - also by virtue of the projects related to the upcoming Tolkien universe - it could rekindle soon, not to mention its always impressive power in the magical world of entertainment. It is therefore curious to see the Daedalic struggling with a game dedicated to a central character for the saga such as Gollum. Don't get us wrong: the history of the German company is undoubtedly positive, but there is rarely a tendency to link it to blockbusters or triple A projects, and a job like the one just mentioned requires significant investments and resources ... therefore surprising that, when we were invited to the digital version of Daedalic Days (structured as a sort of online fair, with presentations and virtual tables), The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was our main focus (as well as of most of those present). The desire to see the Daedalic juggle with a more impressive work than usual was after all a lot, and the scarcity of information received so far only increased the interest in a possible presentation.

Well, the reveal has inevitably arrived, albeit comfortably at the end of the event, and we were able to follow it in its entirety, complete with long gameplay commented by the developers. And even if we unfortunately did not get our hands on the game, what we saw was quite interesting, despite closely following the canons of other games focused on stealth.

Escape from Mordor

The Daedalic videogame seems to be a sort of prequel to the Lord of the Rings, and should chronologically fit between The Hobbit and the latter. The events narrated, therefore, plausibly put you in the shoes of a Gollum recently escaped from the clutches of Sauron and from Barad-Dur and with a less horrid aspect and consumed by the influence of the only ring (even if the more "youthful aspect "could also be a simple stylistic choice).

Not being much of a fighter, ours must sharpen his wits to survive, and move silently among the impressive (and angular) structures of Mordor, obviously chock full of ogres and other amenities. "Impressive" is the only word that comes to mind to describe the maps, because it is evident how their complexity is in some ways the heart of the experience.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, in fact, it does not seem to be a linear stealth game focused on the variety of the approach or on particular gadgets, but a title designed to greatly emphasize exploration, and offer multiple paths to the player to reach the various objectives. This leads to a natural verticalization of the maps, with platforms often positioned very high above the target, and entire suspended paths designed to allow Gollum to bypass many of the worst obstacles without getting noticed. The protagonist, however, is a skilled climber, able to move without problems on almost any wall. The freedom of movement in the various locations is practically total, and we are really curious to see how far the developers will go during the campaign, since from the gameplay shown they seem to want to alternate more "guided" phases with large areas that can be approached at will.

Gollum or Sméagol?

The choice to structure the game in this way derives, it seems, from a thorough study of Tolkien's writings, and from the desire to render Mordor and in general the structures of the Earth of Medium as detailed as possible and close to their original descriptions. The achievement of objectives in the campaign is also aided by certain maps (one, designed by orcs, was shown during the gameplay) extremely rich; the fact that they are two-dimensional drawings, however, still leaves many obscure points in the navigation, forcing the player to experiment a lot to discover the most useful passages.

Not that Gollum is completely harmless, quite the contrary. The protagonist can in fact resort to rather quick silent kills if he arrives unseen behind the guards. The use of violence, however, is a double-edged sword: killing certain characters can influence the subsequent phases, effectively eliminating any possible advantages. These moral choices, then, are not linked only to eliminations, given that Gollum - constantly torn apart by two inner voices - is often placed in front of crossroads that modify the development of the plot and its relationship with those who meet him.

Ah, speaking of NPCs, in the demo shown a dwarf named Grashneg appeared, who at one point follows the player to help him escape. In this specific section your partner was able to break through wooden barriers, an indispensable skill to advance that undoubtedly will not be the only one. The developers, in fact, have confirmed that in the game Gollum will sometimes be paired with other supporting actors, all designed to add extra mechanics to the game and variety to situations. In the case of Grashneg it was a rather limited contribution, but we are curious to see what will happen later.

The first impression however was quite positive, especially considering the age of the build seen, who was only eleven months old. Despite the limited development time, the Daedalic work already seemed to us to have a well-defined artistic direction, a rather solid skeleton, and a handful of ideas full of potential. Of course, there was no shortage of problems: the artificial intelligence seemed rather immature (the orcs don't seem to have much means to chase Gollum if he decides to climb to the top), and many animations were still quite crude, but it is clear how the bulk has already been done and there are still plenty of room for improvement.

Although still clearly immature in many elements, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum already seems to want to follow a path well defined by its developers, and we have remained struck by the complexity of the maps and the care of certain elements. Mechanically, the game does not seem to be particularly revolutionary, but if the level design and the campaign were to prove to be of a high level, we could have a very remarkable stealth game on our hands, with one of the most evocative settings in circulation. It's not a little.


Extremely elaborate and verticalized maps, which offer multiple approaches. Exploration and freedom of movement seem central to the experience Excellent artistic direction DOUBTS Clearly there is still a lot to do Mechanically it doesn't seem like a particularly innovative title in the genre

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