The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria review: fathoms to go

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria Review

The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria offers an exciting premise for fans of the franchise, allowing players to explore the iconic underground labyrinth. However, the game falls short of expectations with its restrictive gameplay and frustrating mechanics. While the world is procedurally generated, the underground setting limits exploration and prevents players from experiencing the freedom and excitement found in similar survival games.

Set in the Fourth Age of Middle-earth, the game follows Lord Gimli as he summons dwarves to reclaim Khazad-dûm from various enemies. As the player, your primary objective is to reunite with your fellow dwarves, which requires navigating the treacherous labyrinth filled with enemies and challenges.

A Linear Environment in an Open-World Game

Return to Moria attempts to incorporate survival game elements, such as starting with basic tools and gradually upgrading, hunger and weariness meters, and resource gathering. However, the game’s linear environment restricts these features, making exploration and resource management tedious and uninteresting. Unlike other survival games where players can freely explore and make mistakes, Return to Moria confines players to specific corridors and limits their ability to dig or choose their own path.

Furthermore, while the game includes references to the film trilogy, it lacks meaningful connections to the lore or the world of Middle-earth. These references serve as mere set dressing rather than providing a deeper immersion in the Lord of the Rings universe.

Linearity and Frustrating Backtracking

The linearity of Return to Moria not only hampers exploration but also interrupts the resource gathering cycle. Players are forced to follow a predetermined path in search of the way back to their base, making resource retrieval a time-consuming and tiresome journey. The presence of numerous enemies further complicates the process, turning what should be a simple task into a challenging and frustrating ordeal.

Fast travel could have mitigated these issues, but it is locked behind difficult-to-obtain resources. Additionally, the combat mechanics in the game are lackluster, offering limited options and clunky AI. The combination of linear gameplay, frustrating backtracking, and unsatisfying combat detracts from the overall enjoyment of the game.

Ultimately, The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria has potential but falls short in delivering a compelling survival game experience. While playing with friends may alleviate some of the frustrations, solo players will likely find progress slow and combat unsatisfying. With some improvements and updates, the game could potentially become a contender in the survival game genre. However, as it stands, it fails to live up to its promising premise.

Note: The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria was released on Oct. 24 on PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Xbox Series X. The review was based on the PC version provided by North Beach Games.