The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is set to take us to Middle-earth in an adventure that will offer a new perspective on the world created by Tolkien. As Gollum, developer Daedalic Entertainment gives you a taste of what it's like to be the famous fictional character, with stealth-based gameplay with climbing, and more. The game doesn't have a release date beyond 2022 yet, but we know it will be released on PS5 and Xbox Series X, and make the most of features like ray-tracing and the PS5 DualSense controller.
The story will follow Gollum from his days as a slave below the Dark Tower to his experiences with the Elves of Mirkwood, and decisions you make along the way will impact the fragile balance between his Gollum side and his Sméagol side.
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 confirmed for a 2021 release date, The Lord of The Rings: Gollum has since been pushed back. Now set to arrive sometime in 2022, the adventure is expected to land on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Nintendo Switch.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will take advantage of PS5 features
As we reported in November 2020, Jonas Husges of Daedalic Entertainment told Official PlayStation Magazine that Gollum will make use of the next-gen PS5 tech. 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," said Husges. This points to The Lord of the Rings: Gollum using the PS5 DualSense's haptic feedback ability, which will likely apply more resistance to the triggers when Gollum is tired or otherwise strained.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will have ray-tracing
In the same interview mentioned above, Husges praised the PS5's SSD component, and said it will help the Lord of the Rings: Gollum vastly decrease loading times and create a large explorable world. It also means Gollum's world will be incredibly well-lit.
"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," said Daedalic art director Mathias Fischer. "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."
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.
In the first gameplay reveal from Daedelic, we follow Gollum at Barad-Dur as he tries to reach a gate and free himself from the tower once and for all. As the studio notes, the game will go beyond Mordor to other parts of Middle-earth, such as the land of the elves where we'll a variety of Lord of the Rings characters. 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.
Lord of the Rings Gollum gameplay details
The very first gameplay gave us a look at the stealth-based gameplay and parkouring skills Gollum can use as he navigates through each level. As he can't beat enemies by charging into battle, he has to rely on his ability to feel sounds and see in the darkness to use unlit spaces to curtail his enemies. As an experienced freestyle climber, Gollum 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 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.
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.” So far, these choices have been presented as dialogue responses or choices that reflect his differing personalities on-screen, but Daedelic says the system is still currently subject to change while the game is still under development.
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.