Video games are often created to entertain, inform, or give players a chance to reflect on interesting ideas, but The Lord of the Rings: Gollum fails to achieve any of these goals. Despite the potential for an interesting game with playable character Gollum, the actual experience falls short in numerous ways. The game features a linear, story-driven series of levels that feel like busywork, as players are forced to complete menial tasks like collecting items for forgettable NPCs and hiding from unremarkable enemies.
A Game of Three Phases
Each level consists of three phases that are equally unimpressive. First, players must complete chores that add nothing to the story or gameplay. Then, the platforming sections, which is the most enjoyable part of the game, become tedious due to the clunky controls and poor design that result in unnecessary deaths. Finally, stealth sections are so badly executed that they are not fun to play. The enemies have limited patrol patterns, poor eyesight, and poor memory, making stealth too easy to be interesting.
Limitations of Combat, Stealth, and Replayability
There is no real combat, and enemies can only be strangled if they are not wearing helmets. It’s odd that a hat worn by the enemies is enough to make them immune to strangling, so the only way to bypass enemies is through stealth. This issue is compounded by the fact that there are no humanoids other than orcs to strangle, making the strangling mechanic largely useless. Additionally, replayability is unattractive due to the lack of any meaningful rewards for collecting hidden items.
The Character of Gollum and Decisions
The game takes place between The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring, making it a great opportunity to explore the character of Gollum, but the game doesn’t take advantage of this. Though players can sometimes make choices as Gollum, these choices are binary and don’t seem to impact Gollum’s personality in any meaningful way. It’s disappointing that the game failed to provide an interesting Gollum story considering he’s one of the most complex characters in J.R.R. Tolkien’s universe.
Despite the potential of a game with Gollum, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum falls short in every way that counts. Its linear and slow-paced nature doesn’t make it fun to play, and its half-baked mechanics fail to add any excitement to the experience. The game’s potential for replayability is also hindered by its lack of meaningful rewards and collectibles. In total, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum may prove to be disappointing for anyone looking for a fun and engaging video game experience, especially those who are fans of Middle-earth.