If you’ve been active in the video gaming community in 2023, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a game that likely needs no introduction. The action-adventure title launched in May 2023 and put players in the wrinkled, shriveled footsteps of Gollum, the wretched, Ring-corrupted creature from the iconic Lord of the Rings franchise. Adventuring from the perspective of Middle Earth’s least likely hero was an intriguing proposition when the game was announced. However, the game’s status post-launch is a much different story. The game infamously launched to overwhelmingly negative reviews. The staggeringly bad reception caused developer Daedalic Entertainment to shutter its game development division, canceling a planned sequel and focusing entirely on publishing instead.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum earned most of its backlash for technical issues and crashes, especially on launch. However, critics have also complained about the character models and level design. The game covers the period of Gollum’s life where he was held as a prisoner and slave in Mordor. During this time, his captors tortured him for information as to the whereabouts of the One Ring. Understandably, fans found this miserable and painful period of Gollum’s life an unexciting premise for a video game. That said, if you’re a huge Lord of the Rings fan who’s determined to give it a try, here’s what you need to know going in.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Premise
As mentioned, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum sees the tiny protagonist captured by orcs and held prisoner in Mordor for the majority of the game. Since Gollum is a frail and physically weak creature, the game prioritizes stealth over open confrontation with enemies. Most of the rest of the gameplay revolves around platforming and carefully navigating environments. The game also features moral choices in certain points that will determine the protagonist’s dominant personality. You can choose to favor the kindly, submissive Smeagol, or the wicked and cruel Gollum.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Main Characters
One of the biggest selling points for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is the fact that it takes place in Middle Earth. Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are some of the most iconic and beloved works of fantasy in the world. The franchise they started has endured for many years and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Here are some of the major characters you will meet during this modest addition to Lord of the Rings canon.
- Gollum: This scheming little creature has long been a major fixture in Lord of the Rings canon. From his first fateful encounter with Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit to his masterful portrayal by Andy Serkis in the live action films, Gollum is a distinctly memorable figure. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum gives fans the chance to control this iconic, twisted Hobbit for themselves.
- Gandalf: This legendary wizard has had a hand in most of the major events throughout Middle Earth, and is another iconic character for fans of the movies and books. The majority of the game is presented as a flashback, relayed to Gandalf by Gollum himself.
- Shelob: This titanic spider monster is a particularly menacing foe in both Lord of the Rings and Gollum. It could be argued that she is largely responsible for the proliferation of giant spiders throughout the fantasy genre. In Gollum, she serves as a major obstacle preventing the titular character from escaping Mordor.
- Sefut: This fellow prisoner, referred to by Gollum as the Frail Man, serves as the protagonist’s companion and mentor for much of his time in Mordor. Eventually, Sefut recruits Gollum to help him attempt a breakout.
- Lestor: The sinister Candle Man works for Sauron as an inquisitor and, in this role, forces Gollum into service during his time as a slave.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Games In The Series
Daedalic Entertainment has not developed any other games set in the universe of The Lord of the Rings. Now that the failure of Gollum has caused it to close its development studio, that will surely never change. However, over the decades since it launched, The Lord of the Rings has inspired many other titles from video game developers. Here’s every officially published video game set in Middle Earth so far.
- The Hobbit (1982)
- Lord of the Rings: Game One (1985)
- Shadows of Mordor: Game Two of Lord of the Rings (1987)
- War in Middle Earth (1988)
- The Crack of Doom (1989)
- J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, vol. I (1990)
- J.R.R. Tolkien’s Riders of Rohan (1991)
- J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, vol. II: The Two Towers (1992)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002)
- The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring (2003)
- The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)
- The Hobbit (2003)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age (2004)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle For Middle Earth (2004)
- The Lord of the Rings: Tactics (2005)
- The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle Earth II (2006)
- The Lord of the Rings Online (2007)
- The Lord of the Rings: Conquest (2009)
- The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn’s Quest (2010)
- The Lord of the Rings: War In The North (2011)
- Guardians of Middle Earth (2012)
- LEGO Lord of the Rings (2012)
- LEGO The Hobbit (2014)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (2014)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War (2017)
- The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game (2018)
- The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth (2019)
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum (2023)
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Cheat Codes
Unfortunately, there are no formal cheat codes in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. It makes sense that the developers would not include any wacky easter eggs, given the grim nature of the story. Given the unpolished state of the game at launch, it also stands to reason that the devs did not devote time or resources to adding superfluous flourishes like cheat codes. If you’re struggling through the game and would like an exploit to help you skip through it, third party cheat engines are available. The usual caveats apply, of course. Downloading third party software can be extremely risky if you don’t know and trust the source. You should always take steps to avoid malware.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum FAQ
What happened with The Lord of the Rings: Gollum? Video game development is a long and complicated process. When a game goes wrong like The Lord of the Rings: Gollum did, it can be hard to identify any singular cause. That said, a recent report from Game Two alleged that the development of Gollum was plagued with crunch. These allegations, sourced from interviews with developers, accuse management of overworking employees and mandatory unpaid overtime. If true, this crunch could very well have contributed to the poor state of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, but as with any major project, there are dozens of things that might have gone wrong.
Is The Lord of the Rings: Gollum the worst game of 2023? Titles like the worst game of any given year are always subjective. Peoples’ opinions of these games are limited by their personal experience and what games they’ve played. That said, the overwhelmingly negative reception of Gollum means it will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest disappointments of the year, if nothing else. An objective Worst Game of 2023 may be an impossible thing to determine, but unfortunately, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is set to go down in history as a major failure.