After leaking earlier this year, Daedalic Entertainment has finally unveiled its upcoming stealth game based in the Lord of the Rings universe called Lord of the Rings: Gollum, named for its titular playable character, who’s gonna be stealthing about and probably still obsessed with that One Ring he had once.
While the studio hasn’t shown any footage of the game in motion, it did release a cinematic trailer to IGN showing Gollum skulking about in a cave.
While there’s no gameplay to be seen, Daedalic did discuss the game’s premise with IGN, where it explained the game’s mechanics, how it fits in with the larger Lord of the Rings canon, and how it will include a branching narrative.
“We start our story parallel to the first book when Frodo is still in the Shire and knows nothing about anything, Lead Narrative Designer Tilman Schanen told IGN. “Gollum at that time ventures to Mordor still desperately looking for Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. Unfortunately, he gets caught by Sauron’s servants and this is basically where our story begins.
Interestingly enough, there won’t be much focus on combat. Which makes sense given that Gollum isn’t exactly battle ready in the way that other Lord of the Rings mainstays are like Aragorn or Legolas. Instead, most of the game will be spent sneaking around in stealth and making story choices.
“The game mixes stealth with vertical climbing parkour,” Lead Game Designer Martin Wilkes said. “If you want a reference you might think of it as similar to Prince of Persia. It is mostly a non-combat game, but Gollum will be able to stealthily take out enemies. However, this will not be easy and always come with big risks. We want players to carefully weigh these encounters. After all, Gollum’s strengths lie in cunning not combat.”
You may also like:
- Why There Will Never Be a Good Lord of the Rings Video Game
- The Quiet, Enduring Success of The Lord of the Rings Online
- Lovecraft Country Asserts Black Humanity
While Gollum won’t be doing much fighting on his own, he’ll have the help of “special allies” at different points in the game, which means other Lord of the Rings characters fans know will be showing up, but the studio doesn’t seem interested in dragging in fan favorites for the sake of it, and wants to be sure any appearances can fit within the gaps of the story that’s already been told.
“We cannot wait to talk about this but it’s still a bit early for that,” Schanen said. “Keeping in mind the scope and timeline of our narrative, we have to closely consider who Gollum would even be able to meet, where, and when. This means that for the most part, they will play smaller – but in some cases very significant – roles in the story.”
But that story will still be somewhat malleable, as Gollum has two distinct “personalities” vying for control, and it’ll be up to you which wins out when he has to make story decisions. Both the Sméagol personality, which represents who he was before he was corrupted by the One Ring, and the Gollum personality that came from that corruption, will be at war with one another during these decisions, and which you choose to follow will affect the tone of the game at large.
“Also, the decisions you make affect the way the game feels,” Schanen said. “You always either play as Sméagol or as Gollum as the ‘dominant’ persona and that can influence animations, soundscapes, certain gameplay situations, and in-game dialogue.”
Wilkes compared it to morality systems of games like Fable or Infamous, but regardless the game is still going to lead to Gollum becoming who he is by the time the story catches up to the books.
Compared to the Shadow of Mordor open-world games, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum won’t be going for a larger scale of the Middle-earth universe, but instead a wide-linear approach. There will be some exploration and platforming, taking advantage of one of Gollum’s notable skills: climbing.
“The game is, for the most part, structured in sets of levels and hubs,” Wilkes said. “When Gollum arrives at a new location the places where he can go from that hub are limited until he either works his way in (for example, the prisons of the Dark Tower), finds secret passages or information, or manages to scheme his way into otherwise restricted areas.”
Lord of the Rings: Gollum will come to PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox One in 2021.