Somehow, the ‘miserable creature in dire straits’ game isn’t very funny
One thing you can’t say about JRR Tolkien’s orcs is that they lack personality. The typical orc of the common imagination might be a sad, dim-witted lump, but for Tolkien they were his main way of injecting humor into dark moments. lord of the rings. Any group of orcs would say “meat’s on the menu, boys!” Didn’t shout that. In books, but Peter Jackson’s trilogy was perfect.
This was on my mind when I was playing Lord of the Rings: Gollum, the new LatR-inspired action-adventure from Daedalic Entertainment. Shortly after completing the training Gollum, I was captured by Sauron’s ringwraiths (canon), tortured (canon), and thrown into the slave pit of Mordor (canon, not a spoiler!). A crouched and armored orc yelled at me – Gollum – to leave my room and follow a line of slaves into a black iron elevator. He was in a large stone and jagged metal room, with a scary woman in the middle, shouting, “The eye sees all! The eye knows all!”
But I can push the control stick forward and walk into his legs until it pleases me. He’ll let out another NPC bark – “Move slave!” – and hit his arm harmlessly again with his single animation. Scraps of personality I found in the first few hours Gollum Mostly provided by myself.
Image: Daedalic Entertainment/Negan
In fact, I could walk endlessly into the legs Any NPC’s in the room including the scary girl. The orcs had a few extra barks about how I wasn’t allowed near her, but nothing to really stop me from wandering off. I could walk into any orc in any corner of any room the game took me to. I can jump up and down. I could do it to the beast master orc as he threatened to feed his monsters. I could do that because the mine master called me a worthless digger.
I did that a lot, and I went from one room to another with a golem full of orcs, wondering if anyone would respond to my capering. Nobody did. Instead, I had to compile what I’m going to call “slave missions” and do what the NPC barkers told me to do.
Superficially, these are all different, but mechanically, they all invite me to an area that seems fancy but actually has only one path. Sometimes I stole from the area. Sometimes I climbed. Sometimes I ran against a timer. If I ever lost track of the route, I could press a trigger button to activate “Gollum Sense,” which changed the world grayscale and, like the Daedalic had, showed some bright orange wisps moving in my chosen direction. A lack of confidence in environmental signs of play.
Eventually, I dutifully took Gollum into his room and pressed X to sleep, thinking that after a day of slaving, surely a cutscene would speed up the game. Unfortunately, the next day I awoke to find myself in the same elevator (no scary girl this time) and down the same hallway, to do more slave work, with other slaves spitting on me with a grate.
my time Gollum The travel challenges are neatly divided into a supercon of walking (literally crawling) simulations and dialogue choices. Daedalic promoted the game as an opportunity to literally enter the broken mind of a victim of Sauron’s cruelty. In my roughly two hours of experience, I suspect that Daedalic uses the Smeagol/Gollum dynamic for more nuanced choices than the single choice I encountered later.
Image: Daedalic Entertainment/Negan
But even in the most mundane, low-impact dialogue options I’ve seen, Gollum Tolkien’s writing seems to rely on a description of Gollum’s “personalities” that is false. In lord of the rings, it’s Gollum badass and Smeagol is a sweet smart kid who does no wrong. Smeagol is simply a passive and frantic voice, sitting alongside Gollum’s violence and frenzy. Sam called him “slinger and stinger”, after all, not “nice and stinky”.
Easy answer Lord of the Rings: Gollum “Why are you kidding about Gollum, out of the whole Lord of the Rings thing?” Ignore that. But one can imagine any number of ways to make a great video game about Gollum. I’d at least like to see a silly gollum fishing game for mobile! I love it 100% Untitled Duck GameRomp in style through the essential beats of lord of the rings. I’ll be looking for strategies for a deck-builder “puzzle” game where you play against lost orcs that wander down your pond and eventually the final boss, that rogue Bilbo Baggins.
A better question is: “Why did you do it? This is A video game about Gollum?” If you’re going to make a simulation game about an evil creature in a miserable situation, it has to be meaningful and deep, or it has to be. There’s the heeheehoohoo factor. Based on the trailers and some hints at the opening time Gollum, I know the store has gameplay on the other side of Mordor. But the lack of personality has already sealed the demise of my save file (Doom, Drums in the Deep). I’ve seen these orcs before; I’ve seen this Mordor before. It’s a version of Middle Earth played completely straight, but immersed without creativity or flexibility.
I wasn’t imprisoned by orcs. I was imprisoned by a game that required me to find eight dog tags from eight slave corpses hidden in tunnels before I got to the non-slave area of the game. The memory of the strawberries may have sent Frodo through Mordor, but I can turn off the game.
Lord of the Rings: Gollum Released on May 25 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a pre-release download code provided by Datalic Entertainment. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, however Vox Media may receive commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find out More information on Polygon’s ethics policy here.
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