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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review (PS5, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC)

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The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review

J.R.R. Tolkien gave the world a masterpiece that still reverberates among enthusiasts. The Lord of the Rings cinematic wonder reminded us once more of the human spirit's insatiable hunger for myth and magic. And since that appetite is never fully satisfied, how about a game adaptation that transports you to the magical realm?

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a video game adaptation of the magical tales of middle earth by Daedalic Entertainment. This is the type of game you never knew you needed, but you also have an in-depth curiosity to see how it plays out. Now that it's finally out, it's time to deduce whether it fits the tagline of an AAA release. Here is The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review.

My Precious!

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review

If you thought this would be an adventure where you step into the shoes of Bilbo Baggins, the hobbit with a gentle demeanor and unassuming stature, or the heroic tables of the noble characters, then this would probably be time to jump ship. 

On the contrary, as the title suggests, the game unfolds through the lens of Gollum, a wretched husk that was once a hobbit-like creature. It would make sense if the game added a bit of more flesh to Gollum's story, giving insight into how he was corrupted by the rings and turned into a witted halving. Instead, the game immerses you in a lost-cause adventure 66 years later after Bilbo acquires the Ring from Gollum. Thankfully, by the end of it all, role playing as Gollum gives a perspective of his fragile personality and his battles as Smeagle's better half. 

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum explores the tragic duality that befalls Gollum in his desperate search for his one true precious, the Ring. However, we experience less of this and more of Gollum's miserable journey as a prisoner. Events in the game occur between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, where Aragorn captures Gollum and hands him over to Gandalf. Gollum's retelling of events to Gandalf shows how his anguish takes shape, which complements his pallid skin and bony frame.



The game positions itself as a stealth-driven action adventure, but unfortunately, it feels overshadowed by unnecessary dialogue and cutscenes. While we appreciate the iconic storytelling of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the production quality of the cutscenes leaves much to be desired.

Right from the start, the game presents you with clear objectives to pursue. You'll spend significant time venturing through caverns and narrow passages, immersing yourself in the exhilarating parkour-inspired gameplay from a third-person viewpoint. Gollum's agile run adds a dose of thrill to the experience, but swiftly transforms into frustration. 

Occasionally, you'll tackle repetitive tasks before progressing to the next chapter. The tasks lack connectivity or any explanation of why you should do it. Moreover, the core gameplay loop feels tedious and inescapable. 

Stealth takes center stage as the primary mechanic, yet it never evolves beyond throwing rocks and scurrying between shadows. The puzzles lack excitement, and the linear design restricts your freedom. Furthermore, the level design proves frustrating, making even simple jumps a cumbersome endeavor. While the game provides frequent checkpoints, it fails to compensate for the frustration of struggling with basic concepts that Gollum needlessly complicates.

Frequently, you'll find Gollum navigating precarious platforms while dodging incoming obstacles and archers. It may sound simple, but simplicity is a fleeting notion in this game. Most obstacles only reveal themselves moments before a catastrophic collision, leaving you on the precipice of madness. If only the developers had opted for a first-person perspective during these intense sequences, it might have compensated for the game's significant shortcomings.

Furthermore, the game unravels through a series of decisions determining Gollum's fate, offering a semblance of replayability. However, given the game's lackluster demeanor and overall quality, I can't fathom subjecting myself to such an arduous journey again. After playing the game, the only precious thing I am after is getting the hours I spent on the game back. 



If only the game's graphics were visually appealing, Gollum might have come close to earning the title of an AAA release. However, it's also equally bad, if not worse. When news about the game hit the grapevine, I expected a visceral and immersive experience that transports you to the lush fields of Middle Earth. Instead, we get an unfinished school project way past its deadline. The developers, however, manage to really capture Gollum's pitiful look, from his disheveled hair to his hunched back, which is further accentuated by his evocative facial expressions. In all honesty, this game would find itself more at home on a PlayStation 2 rather than the cutting-edge capabilities of a PlayStation 5.


Combat is nearly non-existent except for scenarios where you'll choke an orc or throw stones at them. But the curveball is you can only chock helmetless orcs. Plus, going against the elves is a near-impossible mission since they have invincible throats. This leaves you with the last option of stealth. 

The game poorly creates a scenario of nefarious foes who are after you. Either that, or it doesn't understand the depth of stealth tactics. For example, standing on a knee-high table makes you unrecognizable. Also, a high-speed chase instantly cools down after you grab an overhang structure. Navigating treacherous sections like the Animal Pist of Baradu-dur is an entire walk in the park. Or should I say a hanging adventure? Grabbing an overhand each time the enemy pops up gets you in the clear. Perhaps a challenging enemy encounter would add a ray of sunlight to the game's poor envision of a threat. 

The Upside

Undeniably, Daedalic nails the soundtrack, which invokes a sensation of being right in the heart of a magical adventure. The personality swap between Gollum and Smeagol is accentuated by the varying vocal cords of the two characters. A gravelly voice notifies you that Smeagol is in control, while the soft, meek voice puts Gollum in the driver's seat. 

Moreover, the game's soundtrack complements Gollum’s actions and emotions. Running away from orcs heightens the beats and unleashes a symphony of intense percussion. After a stealthy escape, the music softens, offering a moment of respite.

The developers capture the game's authenticity by highlighting the smallest auditory nuances, contributing to an authentic and immersive experience. For instance, you'll notice the moistened sound of Gollum's hands smacking as he climbs or sprints. 

Verdict: Perhaps It Was a Mistake

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum review

It is truly astounding that The Lord of the Rings: Gollum emerged from the depths of development. This ill-fated endeavor stands as a colossal failure of epic proportions, a product that reeks of hasty production and feels disappointingly rushed. Comparing it to other genre-defining titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild would be a grievous insult. Critics unanimously concur that it sets an abysmally low standard for AAA releases, securing its position as the ignominious title of the worst game of 2023.

Even with better visuals or soundtracks, Gollum doesn't check the boxes of an enthralling game. Each interaction feels hollow, devoid of the thrill and challenge that should propel you forward. As the tale unravels, it becomes painfully apparent that the narrative has lost its luster. Characters lack depth and development. To add fuel to the fire, technical glitches ruin the experience, exacerbating the pervasive mediocrity. Although restarting your device gets the game back running, after a few glitches, it basically wears you out. 

To add insult to injury, this game's exorbitant and ludicrous price tag defies all reason. For a game priced at $60, encountering such a litany of glitches is simply disappointing. While it is not uncommon for new releases to suffer from technical issues, Gollum reaches unparalleled heights in gaming history by coupling these glitches with abysmal gameplay and lackluster visuals. Sadly, this is not a game worth breaking the bank for.

So, what are your thoughts? Will you be picking up a copy of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum? What game features stand out for you the most? Let us know on our social media handle here or in the comments below.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Review (PS5, Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC)

A Not-So-Precious Experience

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a stark reminder of always having zero to no expectations. Most games utterly fail to meet even modest expectations, which leaves you yearning for more fulfilling adventures. Or retreat to familiar games that invoke a sense of fulfillment.

The game has a paid DLC, which appeals to LOTR fans. You can access additional emotes for Gollum and the LOTR soundtrack. The DLC adds a layer of authenticity by having the elves speak in Sindarin, the original language by Tolkien. 

Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.