Clawing Through Shadows: A Look at The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

5 min read The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, a title that instantly conjures images of the wretched creature scuttling through the filth of Mordor. Daedalic Entertainment's 2023 attempt to capture Gollum's perspective in a video game is an ambitious one. Does it succeed in delivering a compelling experience worthy of Tolkien's legacy, or does it fall prey to the perils of its own premise? May 12, 2024 19:07 Clawing Through Shadows: A Look at The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Embodying Duality: A Performance Divided

The game's greatest strength lies in its portrayal of Gollum. The voice acting by Troy Baker is phenomenal, perfectly capturing the fractured psyche of the creature. Every internal struggle between Sméagol, the hobbit yearning for the light, and Gollum, the corrupted embodiment of greed, is delivered with chilling brilliance. Players constantly hear Gollum's inner monologue, a constant stream of insults, justifications, and desperate pleas. This internal conflict forms the core of the gameplay, with choices determining which side of Gollum prevails.

Choices and Consequences: A Moral Tightrope Walk

The dialogue system allows players to influence Gollum's actions, subtly nudging him towards violence or restraint. These choices have consequences, affecting the narrative and potentially unlocking hidden areas. This creates a sense of agency, making you feel responsible for the path Gollum takes. However, the impact of these choices can feel limited at times. The overarching story seems predetermined, with some decisions leading to slightly altered cutscenes rather than drastically different outcomes.

A Splendid Desolation: The World of Middle-earth

The developers deserve praise for crafting a visually stunning rendition of Middle-earth. The environments, though confined by Gollum's stealthy nature, are meticulously detailed. Lush forests teem with life, while Mordor's barrenness evokes a sense of oppressive despair. The use of light and shadow is particularly effective, highlighting Gollum's vulnerability as he navigates treacherous paths.

Master of Stealth (or Not): A Flawed System

The core gameplay loop revolves around stealth. Gollum, being a weak creature, must avoid confrontation and rely on his cunning to navigate past enemies. The game offers a variety of tools to aid him, such as distractions and vents for sneaking through. However, the stealth mechanics themselves are a double-edged sword. While some sections provide a thrilling sense of tension as Gollum inches past patrolling Orcs, others feel clunky and frustrating. Enemy AI can be erratic at times, leading to situations where you're spotted seemingly out of nowhere. Additionally, the controls, particularly when it comes to platforming sections, can be imprecise, resulting in cheap deaths.

A Fragile Light: A Shortcoming in Length

The biggest disappointment with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is its brevity. The main campaign can be completed in a single weekend, leaving players wanting more. While the focus on Gollum's internal struggles is commendable, it comes at the expense of exploring the wider narrative of The Lord of the Rings. The glimpses we get of other characters and events feel fleeting, leaving a sense of missed opportunities.

A Tale Untold: A Glimpse of Potential

Despite its shortcomings, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum offers a unique experience within the Tolkien universe. It sheds light on a fascinating, complex character and presents a world through a distorted lens. The potential for a deeper exploration of Gollum's journey and the impact of the Ring on his psyche is undeniable. While this initial attempt might not have fully grasped that potential, it paves the way for future titles to delve deeper into this dark and captivating corner of Middle-earth.

Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a game best suited for die-hard Tolkien fans and those intrigued by Gollum's character. It's an experiment with an uneven execution, but one that offers a glimpse into the potential of a character-driven narrative within this beloved franchise.

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