Lord of the Rings fans have been eagerly awaiting Daedalic’s Gollum game. Can the title meet the needs of the community? Has the fine-tuning of the last few years paid off?
“What’s your name?” asks the wizard Gandalf the creature Gollum and “Lord of the Rings” fans can already guess what’s coming. It’s not the first time in “Gollum: The Untold Story” that the main character gets into an inner dispute about own identity thrown in. Players get an unprecedented glimpse into Gollum’s struggle with himself.
The question “Sméagol or Gollum?” runs through the entire game. The creature is constantly in dialogue with itself and must try to bring its alter egos Sméagol and Gollum to a consensus. Since the discovery of the ring, for which the hobbit Sméagol murdered his cousin Déagol, his personality has been split – almost as if an “angel and a devil” were sitting on his shoulders. The player can influence the outcome of the dispute by: she or he selects the appropriate arguments, including quotes so typical of Gollum, such as when he ponders whether hobbits might be suitable food for him.
Ring? hobbits? For those unfamiliar with Middle-earth and now a little lost, there is no need to worry. Even without prior knowledge, you can easily find your way around in “Gollum: The Untold Story”. Because the game is chronologically located between the events of JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and the “Lord of the Rings” series. Gollum has lost “his treasure”, one of the rings that gave it his name, to Bilbo Baggins (the “Hobbit”) and is seeking since afterwards to recover him. But before he tries to get the ring from his nephew Frodo in “The Fellowship of the Ring”, a number of things may have happened that didn’t find a place in the books and films. The developer “Daedalic” has adapted the story and allows fans to meet many popular characters again, such as Legolas father, the elf king Thranduil.
Puzzles, climbing, falling
Anyone expecting spectacular battles against orcs or Sauron, evil himself, from “Gollum: The Untold Story” will be disappointed. Gollum is not a fighter, so the stealth style of play is consistent with the character. Most of the time you have to hide in the shadows from orcs or, if the worst comes to the worst, take them out with a skillful stone throw to the head. These skills are in intense demand right from the start of the game, as Gollum must free himself from his slavery in Mordor, the realm of Sauron, in order to continue his quest for the Ring.
“/> In “The Untold Story” we spend a number of hours underground. Daedalic
In “The Untold Story” we spend a number of hours underground. Daedalic
In order for Gollum’s freedom to be within reach at all, a number of tasks must first be fulfilled. These range from the very simple collection of objects, in which jumping and climbing courses have to be completed, to complicated puzzles. For example, if Gollum has to breed magical birds for his dark masters and find just the right combination of heat and wood to heat up the breeding ground, players who are less keen on puzzles can definitely work up a sweat. It can take a good half hour to find the right combination or to find all the clues.
Patience is generally required in “Gollum: The Untold Story”. Gollum doesn’t always do what he is told to do. Again and again it happens that the figure does not want to hold on to a rock edge even after the fifth attempt and falls screaming into the depths. It is particularly annoying when a jump is distracted by poorly placed objects in the game world. “Fail videos” of such incidents are already piling up on the internet. In some cases, the problems can no longer be solved by skill or patience: in a sequence in which Gollum has to guide a companion through an area, the companion simply does not follow the creature’s commands. There is no advancement, the section is mandatory for game progress. But that’s not all: During the test run of the “Presse” the game also crashed completely once.
What takes a long time is not always good
Would that have happened without activating a beautified graphic using ray tracing? At least that’s what the first reports from the Internet suggest. In truth, however, ray tracing is not necessary, because the graphics and game design of the game unfortunately seem a bit out of date anyway. Environments are repetitive, rock faces look fake and too smooth, and the characters look like they lack polish. It is not uncommon for objects to move through characters or people to “glitch”, i.e. disappear and reappear.
All in all, the look of “Gollum: The Untold Story” is a bit reminiscent of the 2006 role-playing game “Oblivion” and not a game that was designed for the PlayStation 5. This is all the more annoying because “Daedalic” has repeatedly put off the fans due to the necessary improvements regarding the release. The game was first announced in 2019, after which it was said again and again that they wanted to take the time to be able to honor the “vision of JRR Tolkien”.
It’s not entirely successful. It’s particularly a shame about the story, which definitely had potential. Only the great dubbing, the reunion with old acquaintances and the many “Lord of the Rings” quotes ensure that nostalgia arises from time to time. It also has to be commended that “Daedalic” managed to overcome the well-known feeling of conflict Gollum into the game world. Accompanying the creature to its lair and finding its keepsakes of happier days will probably feel a spark of pity along with disgust. Boring levels, lengthy side stories and bugs make it difficult to keep up the excitement. So Gollum’s years without the ring will probably continue to exist for many fans better only in their own imagination.
Gollum: The Untold Story is available for $59.99 on PS5, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch.