Get your impressions at the ready - there’s a new Lord of the Rings game and it’s focusing on the gaunt ring-obsessed creature, Gollum. Surprisingly, WB isn’t involved with this one as they were with the Middle-Earth series, as German developers Daedalic will be taking the helm. So far it’s been confirmed to arrive on next-gen consoles, but details are slim across the board, with some detail arriving via previews in the early months of this year. For those of you who can’t wait to get your hands on Daedalic’s precious jewel, here’s everything we know so far about Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
What is Lord of the Rings: Gollum?
Announced in March of 2019, Lord of the Rings: Gollum is an action-adventure game from Daedalic Entertainment, a German studio famous for making point-and-click adventure games, their most popular output being the Deponia series. You may have also heard of some of the games they’ve published recently, including Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun and 2018’s State of Mind. Daedalic inked a deal with Middle-earth Enterprises to work on this project, which means that the game will draw from the books and not the movies. There’s also been some suggestion that there may be more to come after Lord of the Rings: Gollum - this might not be the only iron Daedalic and MEE have in the fire.
Lord of the Rings: Gollum release date and platforms
Initially being confirmed for a 2021 release date on PC and “all relevant consoles,” Lord of the Rings: Gollum has since been confirmed to be a next-gen title, which means it will launch on Xbox Series X and PS5 when the game solidifies its launch window.
Lord of the Rings Gollum story - When will the game take place?
Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Daedalic explained that the game will take place in the years following Gollum’s acquisition of the one ring, meaning that it is set prior to the events of The Lord of the Rings. “Everything that happens to him before he appears in the book are the main things we will see in our game.”
The game was then subject to a world-exclusive preview in Edge Magazine in January, which revealed some more details about the story. The game will kick off in Barad-dur, a Mordor fortress where the creature is being kept against his will, but the developers assured that there will be other “giant, persistent environments” to explore beyond the initial setting.
This means there’ll most likely be some kind of prison break element to the game, though beyond Mordor we could meet up with a variety of Lord of the Rings characters in the preface to the novella’s main storyline. It’s a clever timeframe to set the game as it affords Daedalic a lot of creative freedom to dive into the more murky bits of lore that Tolkein didn’t dwell too heavily on, though I can’t imagine this was an easy conversation with the estate licensing team, mind...
Lord of the Rings Gollum gameplay details
According to the Edge preview, the game will focus on stealth and not afford Gollum with too many abilities, focusing on platforming gameplay and subterfuge over skill trees and character progression. Part of the gameplay will also focus on Gollum’s inner battle with his alter-ego, Smeagol. CEO Carsten Fichtelmann told The Hollywood Reporter 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 Smeagol decisions or the Gollum decision.” It’s unclear at the moment what form these flashpoints may take, whether it comes down to dialogue or physical choices that can change the narrative remains unclear.
As well as a “range of friendly or unfriendly faces,” the Nazgul and Thranduil will also feature in the game in some respect - Thranduil being the father of Legolas, for the uninitiated! Crucially, Daedalic’s version of Gollum will look nothing like the character popularized in the Lord of the Rings movies. “We started with the person he was and then evolved him,” explains producer Kai Fiebig. “You can see that this was once something like a human being before the Ring corrupted him.” So don’t expect to hear or see an Andy Serkis lookalike in-game when it finally lands!
Accordingly, the visual style that Daedalic is aiming for is set to skirt “the uncanny valley” and aim for bold style over true realism. Fichtelmann notes in the initial report that the team is trying to “produce something that is a statement.” Gollum’s descent into hunchbacked creature will no doubt be striking then - the game has a lot of wiggle room if it wanted to incorporate some elements of the horror genre given Tolkein’s rogue’s gallery of creatures. By seating the player outside of the shoes of the atypical hero, Daedalic would do well to drive home the imposing terror of some of Tolkein’s beasts when facing an unarmed, frail creature like Gollum and not say, an all-powerful wizard or warrior king.
It looks like the game will seek to make you feel different, perhaps more positive and empathetic emotions towards the gruesome creature than you’ve previously been acquainted within the books and novels. Gollum is naturally quite a tragic character, so there is a lot of room to experiment here, especially for a studio so well-acquainted with branching narratives.