"We will tell the story before he first appears in the books."
The Stoor Hobbit Gollum is the main character in the upcoming game The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
Originally known as Sméagol, he was corrupted by the One Ring and later named Gollum.
The game explores an original, never-before-told story about Gollum, set eight years before the War of the Ring.
This single-player adventure combines stealth and platforming, making for an intriguing game.
To make the most of the immersive graphics, it will release on PS5, Xbox Series X/S and PC. But it will also release on PS4 and Xbox One.
As it prepares to release on May 25, 2023, we look at the features and what to expect from The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
The Story & Setting
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum takes place several years before the events of The Lord of the Rings.
It picks up as the titular character has lost the One Ring to Bilbo and is captured by the forces of Sauron, in the dungeons of Barad-dûr, before he escapes and journeys across the Misty Mountains.
Eventually, he’ll arrive in the forest of Mirkwood as he begins his hunt for the ring.
Carsten Fichtelmann, CEO and co-founder of Daedalic Entertainment, said:
“Everything that happens to him before he appears in the book are the main things we will see in our game.
“We have the story that we all know from the book, but everything that happens to him before he appears in the book are the main things we will see in our game.
“We will tell the story before he first appears in the books.”
Throughout the game, players will encounter many familiar Middle-Earth characters, including Gandalf.
You will also run into King Thranduil and lots of orcs.
But as it is a stealth-based game, you will spend more time surreptitiously slipping around them instead of fighting the Dark Lord Sauron’s soldiers head-on.
You will also have to make decisions at certain key points through choices and actions displayed in thought bubbles around the main character.
What is interesting is that the choices will be split between Gollum’s own split personalities: the avaricious Gollum and the innocent Sméagol.
Throughout his journey, Gollum will encounter a range of friendly or unfriendly faces.
Among those will be the Nazgul and Legolas’ father King Thranduil.
Gandalf will also make an appearance in the game.
Along with familiar characters from Tolkien’s world, there will also be some new faces that can help Gollum along the way.
This includes a young elf called Mell who Gollum meets in Mirkwood and Greshneg, who will be in Barad-dûr.
Gameplay largely revolves around stealth and platforming, staying true to Gollum’s small stature.
As he cannot beat enemies by facing them head-on, he has to rely on his ability to feel sounds and see in the darkness to use unlit spaces to curtail his enemies.
Having gained skills over the last 500 years, Gollum is a seasoned freestyle climber who can also jump across platforms, hang from ledges, and fit through tight spots to get away from, or around, his foes.
Every action that requires a force of some kind will use up Gollum’s stamina gauge, so you have to be mindful of the amount of stamina you have left before you leap to do another big climb.
On the stealth gameplay, lead game designer Marting Wilkes said:
“If you want a reference, you might think of it as similar to Prince of Persia.”
“It is mostly a non-combat game, but Gollum will be able to stealthily take out enemies.
“However, this will not be easy and always come[s] with big risks.
“We want players to carefully weigh these encounters. After all, Gollum’s strengths lie in cunning, not combat.”
Part of the gameplay involves making choices, which could affect how the story turns out.
Players will need to manage both Gollum and Sméagol, his more agreeable alter ego.
The game’s version of Gollum will look nothing like the character that was seen in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
Producer Kai Fiebig explains: “We started with the person he was and then evolved him.
“You can see that this was once something like a human being before the Ring corrupted him.”
Fichtelmann says that in Gollum “you already have that big conflict in the character… which means there is a good reason there are decisions to make in the game: the Sméagol decisions or the Gollum decision”.
So far, these choices have been presented as dialogue responses or choices that reflect his differing personalities on-screen.
But this could still change as the game nears its release.
Taking Advantage of the PS5
Gollum will take advantage of the PlayStation 5 technology.
According to Daedalic Entertainment’s Jonas Husges:
“Gollum’s actions become more tangible and his physical struggle when he runs out of stamina translates directly to the way the game is played.”
This points to the game using the PS5’s DualSense’s haptic feedback ability, which will likely apply more resistance to the triggers when Gollum is tired or otherwise strained.
Husges also praised the PS5’s SSD component and stated it will help The Lord of the Rings: Gollum decrease loading times and create a large explorable world.
This also ensures a well-lit world.
Speaking about ray tracing, Daedalic art director Mathias Fischer said:
“Clean, ray-traced shadows allow for maximum effect in player guidance in building stealth passages while dynamic and moving light sources bring in the extra challenge when Gollum is roaming through the darkness.
“All these things, of course, have the nice side-effect of making the game feel vast, and such free-roaming environments we are creating look as spectacular as Middle-earth deserves.”
A unique story promises a new look at the titular character as he searches for the One Ring while battling his inner self.
With choices that could affect the outcome of the story, gamers can enjoy multiple playthroughs to see the different conclusions.
But expect some twists when The Lord of the Rings: Gollum releases on May 25, 2023.