Developer Daedelic has addressed The Lord of the Rings: Gollum‘s massive backlash, as the game is met with nigh-total rejection from reviewers, players, and fans.
RELATED: ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ Actor Ismael Cruz Córdova Doubles Down On Accusations Of Racism, Still Doesn’t Provide Any Evidence
At this time of writing, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has an average Metascore of just over 41 across all platforms via Metacritic. Albeit, only PC and PlayStation 5 platforms have enough critic reviews to contribute to a Metascore. Even Metacritic’s own article discussing The Lord of the Rings games ranked worst to best started with Gollum.
“Critics note that extensive knowledge of Tolkien’s books is a prerequisite for enjoying the game, but that’s just the least of Gollum’s problems. ‘Dull’ and ‘tedious’ are words that reviewers have used again and again to describe gameplay, while the controls leave something to be desired. But the biggest flaw is the game’s visuals—or maybe it’s the many game-breaking bugs,” Metacritic quips.
“At any rate, it’s a complete package: completely terrible.”
Both PC and PlayStation 5 versions of The Lord of the Rings: Gollum are the worst reviewed games of the year (thus far), sitting at the bottom of Metacritic’s list, several places below even the Xbox Series X version of Redfall.
The game doesn’t fair much better on other review aggregate websites. Open Critic gives it a “Weak” rating, with a Top Critic Average of 42, and only 4% of critics recommending the game.
RELATED: ‘The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum’ Level Designer Explains “The Player Will Start Feeling Empathy Towards” Gollum
One of the game’s few positive reviews was given by PC Gamer’s Dominic Tarason, who rated The Lord of the Rings: Gollum with a score of 64. He argued that “While wonky as a platformer or a stealth game, I’m happy to find such a strong story told here, distinct from Jackson and Bakshi’s visions of Middle-Earth.”
Wccftech’s Ule Lopez was also surprisingly generous with his score of 6.5. He admitted the experience needed more work before launch, but was “still is a charming game in its own way with its setting, writing, and some incredible environment design that can catch your breath at times.”
“This game is a cautious recommendation for players that aren’t Lord of the Rings enthusiasts,” Lopez defends.
IGN’s Justin Koreis had much less sympathy, with a 4 out of 10. “The Lord of the Rings: Gollum fails to provide a satisfying answer to the big Why’s, he said, before inquiring, “Why, of all the interesting characters in The Lord of the Rings lore, would anyone want to play an entire game as Gollum? Why would one trade the solid action of prior games in this universe for busywork, uninspired and frustrating platforming, and bad stealth?”
“It’s not clear who this is for, or what it was intended to achieve. What is clear is that it’s not fun to play, and not something to recommend to any but the most curious and dedicated Lord of the Rings fan,” Koreis concluded.
RELATED: Galadriel Actress Morfydd Clark Admits Her Character Took On The Role Of Sauron In ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’
Eurogamer’s Christian Donlan called The Lord of the Rings: Gollum a “well-intentioned mess” and gave it a one out of five — acknowledging, however, that developer Daedalic Entertainment loved and had passion for the project. Rock Paper Shotgun’s Rachel Watts condemned it as “a very dull game,” despite having “moments of spectacle,” laden with being “quite janky,” and failing to expand the lore.
YouTuber Skill Up slammed the game in his review, titling it as being “way worse than even our lowest expectations.” Opening that while he tries to champion AA and lower-budget games, he felt compelled to warn his viewers due to the game’s $60 price tag.
The additional $10 for the Precious Edition only riled Skill Up further, as it offered content that would typically be part of the base game in other titles- basic emote animations, “lore-accurate dialog” (or Sindarin voice acting for the Elves), and lore entries. The latter was hindered by dialogue and other text throughout the game having “amateur” writing (even having poor grammar and spelling).
Skill Up also criticized the game’s plot feeling at odds with how Gollum had been portrayed in the books and films, to the point it felt like Gollum shouldn’t have been a part of it. Gameplay was also repetitive, simplistic, and either hand-holding or too vague. He also called enemy AI “comical,”noting that it didn’t help make the basic stealth better. The YouTuber also highlights poor controls for the platforming — to the point even Gollum’s jump distance is inconsistent.
He also felt the side-activities were included as the core gameplay wasn’t enjoyable alone, and even to distract from how bad it was.
RELATED: Latest ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ Rumor Claims Galadriel Will Be Captured By Orcs, Another Deviation From Tolkien’s Writings
On the technical side, Skill Up felt some animations looked were either simplistic or simply unfinished — when they weren’t glitching — describing facial animations as “some of the worst I’ve seen from any modern game.” These flaws also came to textures, rendering, and the stuttering performance and frame-rate. The graphical quality, even when working as intended, also fell far short of the game’s maximum recommended specs.
Skill Up also notes that “sometimes, s—t just doesn’t work,” with text staying on screen when it shouldn’t, being unable to move after respawning, and events not triggering — meaning entire levels had to be occasionally restarted. The YouTuber felt unable to finish the game by the half-way mark, as his frustrations mounted.
Failing to live up to its price and marketing, Skill Up insisted, “If you are gonna charge $70 for what is essentially the complete version of this game, then you had better be ready for people to be really, really pissed off when they play something this unfinished, this unpolished, and this sub-standard.”
“Those Precious Edition pay-walled items alone are enough to make this feel like a real piss-take, but when combined with just how bad the rest of this package is, the way that this has been priced and marketed feels very deceptive, and very exploitative. This is by far the worst game I’ve played this year, and I absolutely do not recommend it,” Skill Up concluded.
RELATED: Sega Reviewing Raising Game Prices To $70 While “Keeping An Eye On Market Conditions”
Others also noted press release screenshots and the final game vastly differed. Twitter user @LumpyTheCook tweeted, “That Gollum game was never going to be great but damn if this isn’t the funniest ‘alpha footage vs final release’ since maybe the first Watch Dogs.”
The user shows a pre-alpha screenshot of the internal argument system between Gollum and Sméagol, comparing it to the one in the final release — the latter of which featuring downgraded graphics, as well as a simplistic UI and font.
User reviews are currently under embargo on Metacritic, but on Steam the game’s reviews are “Mostly Negative,” as only 35 players recommended the game to others. The user reviews take umbrage with the game as whole, with seemingly no redeeming qualities.
IcyCaress lived up to their username and gave The Lord of the Rings: Gollum the cold shoulder. “This isn’t a game. This isn’t an experience. This isn’t even a torture test for your PC. It’s a torture test for the games industry as a whole, to see how much BS We’re willing to put up with with these garbage companies milking us for all we’re worth.”
RELATED: ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ Actor Ismael Cruz Córdova Says He’s Victim Of Death Threats And Racism, Provides No Evidence
“I overpaid,” DON simply writes. This is made more damning by the fact Steam notes “Product received for free.”
Kyrakitty was one of the few who pitied Daedalic Entertainment. “I’m a huge Tolkien nerd and my boyfriend got it for me because of that. I made it about 40 minutes in before I couldn’t stand the clunky controls, bad stealth, or frequent screen tearing. I have an RTX 3090 and played on High settings and it was still sweating trying to make this game work.”
“It’s just not optimized at all, and it’s frustrating to watch the gameplay suck but the pre-rendered cutscenes comparatively look pretty good. I feel bad for the team, because it seems like they were passionate about the source material,” the user empathized.
“They even have Sindarian (Elvish) DLC for added dialogue immersion. But I don’t think they knew how to make a 3D current-gen game, and unfortunately it shows.”
The majority were out for blood however, such as tki_scatter. “I am honestly shocked at the absolute gall of Nacon and Daedalic to charge $60 for a game of such poor quality. This is an obviously amateur product across every dimension, riddled with so many technical and creative design flaws that the AAA-tier asking price beggars belief.”
“The game looks, sounds, and handles like a student project demonstrating their first legitimate wrangling of Unreal Engine. Games of this calibre are typically free on Steam, which feels like the only appropriate price point for this product. I’ll update this review when I’ve finished, though I expect my regard for the game will only grow all the more scathing for each passing hour,” tki_scatter fumed.
“I leave this thumbs-down in the meantime, in the hopes that it may help ward off prospective buyers.”
RELATED: ‘The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power’ Actress Morfydd Clark Says Galadriel Will Have “A Life-Changing Thing Happen To Her” In Second Season
Following the massive backlash the game was receiving, a statement was shared via the official Twitter account.
“A few words from ‘The Lord of the Rings: Gollum™ ‘ team,” it opened. “Dear players, We would like to sincerely apologize for the underwhelming experience many of you have had with The Lord of the Ring[sic]: Gollum™ upon its release.”
“We acknowledge and deeply regret that the game did not meet the expectations we set for ourselves or for our dedicated community. Please accept our sincere apologies for any disappointment this may have caused. Our goal as a studio, and as passionate The Lord of the Rings fans, has always been to tell a compelling and immersive story-driven adventure,” Daedalic Entertainment implored.
“Crafting a story with Middle-earth as our playground has been the greatest honor — and the biggest challenge we have faced so far,” the developer admitted. “At Daedalic, we understand that a game’s success relies on the enjoyment and satisfaction of its players.”
“We genuinely value your feedback and have been actively listening to your voices, reading your comments, and analyzing the constructive criticism and suggestions you have provided. Our development team has been working diligently to address the bugs and technical issues many of you experienced. We are committed to providing you with patches that will allow you to enjoy the game to its fullest potential.”
“Once again, we deeply apologize for any inconvenience caused, and we appreciate your understanding during this time,” Daedalic Entertainment pleaded. “We will continue to keep you updated on our progress and provide transparent communication regarding the upcoming patches and improvements.”
“Your passion and dedication as players have been the driving force behind our determination to make things right,” Daedalic Entertainment concluded.
NEXT: Amazon Games VP Christoph Hartmann Explains How New ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ MMO Will Differ From Tolkien’s Novels