Review | The Lord of the Rings: Gollum – When we play an early version of a new game, we generally try not to be too negative. After all, this is an unfinished version and therefore a lot can be modified and improved. However, for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, this was a very difficult task. It was clear that the game still needed a lot of work on all fronts. However, the developer assured us that the final version of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will be much better in every way than the version we were allowed to play in preview at the time. Now that the game is in stores and already packed with post-launch patches, we’ll see if the developer has kept its promises.
Daedalic Entertainment chose to create a game centered around Gollum because they felt there was a clear gap in his story in both the Lord of the Rings books and films. In fact, between the events in The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, we don’t really know what happened to Gollum. The game teaches us that he was captured by orcs and enslaved for several years, and when he escaped, he was captured by the “Elves of Mirkwood”. That’s all fine, but if you’re familiar with the books or movies, you already know how the game will end. This isn’t an ideal starting point for a “surprise” story, but it can of course be made up for by good gameplay
Do not judge
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is described as an action/adventure game, but the game is primarily a platform title, and occasionally includes stealth sections. The early version showed that there were still a lot of bugs, which of course was not a good sign. Although some parts can be solved within a reasonable time, we already know in advance that there is no time left to optimize all parts. The former category includes controls, frame rate, and graphics. We are still not satisfied with the controls. You don’t have complete control over your jumps, so you regularly miss jumps and crashes, and that can be frustrating. As a result, the platform does not perform well. What also doesn’t help is that this is a frequently used part of the gameplay. In fact, we noticed little to no difference between the controls in the preview and now the full version.
Progress has been made with the frame rate. Three graphics modes are available. You have a performance mode, which offers a 2K 60fps picture, a quality mode that offers 2K 30fps, and a ray tracing mode, where you play the game in sub-4K at 30fps. The frame rate is good for all modes. However, there are times when the target number of frames per second is not reached, but that doesn’t really get in the way of the fun. We are less satisfied with the graphics. We played the early version on PC and it looked decent. However, we have now played the PlayStation 5 version and it is less graphically powerful.
A big thorn in the side of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum on consoles is that many of the textures are quite low key, so some parts of the environment simply don’t look right. In addition, some characters in the game are of very low quality, mainly due to the use of low polygons. These characters also have wooden animations, which look simply ugly. Gollum itself is somewhat animated and made up of more polygons, but the main character’s face looks weird. The developer tried to give Gollum a more childish look to bring out his innocent side, but it didn’t quite work out. To finish on a positive note in terms of graphics, the ray tracing mode brings beautiful reflections.
If Daedalic barely improved the controls and graphics, you can bet that nothing has changed in the gameplay itself, and unfortunately it has. We weren’t really impressed with what we managed to play in this area, it’s even worse in the full match. This is because the level design is sometimes too simple, sometimes confusing or even laughably bad. At one point we encountered an orc in a corridor, and the game told us we could distract it by throwing a stone. First, the orc just stood there after throwing the boulder, so we walked over to get him to chase us. After that we quickly dive after something and lose the orcs again. After all this we manage to enter the passage only to find it is a dead end. After some digging, we discovered that we just had to climb a wall that was still in front of the enemy. So we didn’t have to do anything with the orcs at all, even though the game suggested it.
Finding a place to go to continue your adventure is a recurring phenomenon in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. You’ll run into dead ends a few times as you walk through this, like in the above example, and sometimes it’ll be unclear whether or not you can climb a wall. The game completely lacks any flow. The level design seems to harken back to the era when 3D games were coming in and the developers were still experimenting with their approach. The stealth departments also leave a lot to be desired. Here it goes it’s very simplistic, but sometimes the enemies are placed in such a way that it leads to frustrating situations; And then it is almost impossible not to notice you. In general, the gameplay offers a bit of fun.
There are other elements that spoil the fun or not help. Sometimes you can’t move if you’re hanging off a ledge and the camera is pointed at a point. Also, the back hop is sometimes unresponsive when you hit a wall and environment collision detection isn’t always accurate. Sometimes you can’t walk any further, although it’s obviously possible to get over an obstacle. In addition, it is possible that you will not move to the next level, even though you have reached the point where you want to be. Also, some of the spawn points are farther apart, which means you have to redo some pesky sections again. Sometimes you also have to decide how to proceed a scene, but in the end this always has the same outcome. So this option is available for bacon and beans. In other words: it’s an accumulation of items that haven’t been worked on properly.
In terms of sound, things aren’t much better. No original voices were used, but were imitated by several voice actors. Gollum looks nothing like Gollum, and in combination with his previously discussed odd-looking appearance, there is a “disconnect” from the main character. The tracks you hear are good, but they bring with them another “problem”. For example, we were trying to find certain things, but the music was playing as if we were fighting a giant monster. The sounds you hear most often do not match what is happening on the screen, which simply seems strange.
played on: PlayStation 5.
Also available for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and PC.
almost: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: Our review of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is delayed, as we recently received a review copy of the game. Since the game was named the worst title of the year, we still wanted to tell you how we feel about the game. We played the game with the latest patches made available after launch.
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