My Precious? How the Gollum Prequel Game Might Succeed Where Other Tolkien Games Failed

January 17, 2020

There have been a ton of Lord of the Rings games. These range from a really forgettable Super Nintendo game to the downright addicting Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Even for fans, though, it’s starting to seem like there may be no new ideas left. However, Daedalic Entertainment has a pretty innovative idea: give us a game based on the villain Gollum!

Daedalic is working on a game called The Lord of the Rings: Gollum that will act as a prequel to the books. Coming in 2021, it could just be the best Tolkien game ever made. Here’s everything you need to know and why the Gollum game could become the “precious” hit Tolkien fans deserve.

Daedalic is a dark horse

Let’s be honest: you’ve probably never heard of Daedalic Entertainment before. However, their quirky history is part of the reason this game may be a surprise hit.

They are most known for modern-day adventure games such as The Night of the Rabbit and Decay: The Mare. These aren’t exactly household names, but these games are very highly rated. Moreover, they show the company’s commitment to the lost art of adventure games — the kind of games that put LucasArts on the map.

In short, they aren’t the kind of company that has normally made Lord of the Rings games. But that simply increases the odds of gamers getting something genuinely new instead of a tired retread of what we’ve had before. 

The story will be completely new

The short description of this game is simply “Gollum prequel.” However, that may leave franchise fans scratching their heads. Exactly what kind of story will a Gollum prequel tell?

Daedalic is keeping exact story details under wraps. However, there is a potentially long period in The Lord of the Rings‘ narrative during which Gollum could be having some weird adventures.

Remember, Bilbo first encounters Gollum in The Hobbit. Later (and after capture and escape from Elves and Sauron alike), Gollum stalks the Fellowship. While the movies gloss over the timeline, the books make it clear that there is a whopping 60 years or so between Gollum’s encounter with Bilbo and his encounter with Frodo.

Think that’s a long time? Thanks to the One Ring, Gollum lived for nearly 600 years. That means a Gollum prequel could cover several generations (though we could go without the boring years where he just chilled in a mountain, eating fish and Orcs).

Gollum makes an unconventional protagonist

There has been no shortage of Lord of the Rings games. Most of them allow you to take control of characters like Frodo, Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli. And even when there are new characters in games like The Third Age and War in the North, they seem like poor copies of familiar heroes.

That’s one reason that Gollum makes for an interesting protagonist. These games rarely let you take control of a villain. Furthermore, Gollum didn’t start out as evil. This game lets us trace his descent from Sméagol to Gollum, complete with split personality character choices (more on this later). 

‘Gollum’ will be more story-centric

Most Lord of the Rings games have something in common: they are about slashing down orcs. From the classic Two Towers and Return of the King games on PS2 to modern titles like War in the North and Shadow of Mordor, the focus is on mindlessly hacking away at servants of The Enemy.

According to Daedalic CEO Cartsen Fichtelman, this is a rut that the Tolkien Estate wanted to escape. He claims they wanted a more story-centric game, and that’s why Daedalic got the gig.

At the end of the day, most franchise fans love The Lord of the Rings for Tolkien’s deep lore and engaging story. And any game that puts story ahead of action is going to be well-aligned to the spirit of Tolkien himself.

‘Gollum’ will have a new look and next-gen design advantage

The CGI Gollum, as played by Andy Serkis in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films, is a cultural icon. However, Daedalic is throwing out Weta’s design and developing their own design for Gollum (and other familiar characters).

“We don’t want to displease the folks who have only see the movies. But in short, he doesn’t look like Andy Serkis,” senior producer Kai Fiebig said in Edge magazine earlier this month. “We started with the person he was and then evolved him. You can see that this was once something like a human being, before the Ring corrupted him.”

Part of this is certainly a matter of not paying royalties to various people associated with the movies. However, this also represents a great chance to give us a fresh portrayal of these well-known characters.

Furthermore, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is being developed for PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. While we won’t be able to play it until 2021, the next-gen design means the game will look more beautiful than any Middle Earth adventures we have seen so far. And when you consider just how pretty Shadow of Mordor is, that’s really saying something!

You get to play as both Gollum and Sméagol

Somewhere along the way, dialogue choices became a staple of video game RPGs. These dialogue trees let you engage in some genuine roleplaying while also enhancing the replayability of the game.

Daedalic has confirmed that you’ll need to make some dialogue and character choices in this game. However, there’s an interesting twist: you’ll need to contend with Gollum’s split personality.

As fans of the books and moves will remember, Gollum suffers from a kind of split personality. Part of him is the murderous, treasure-hunting Gollum that we all know and loathe. But part of him is still a gentle Hobbit named Sméagol that got into an adventure way above his head. He’s like a dark reflection of what could have happened to Bilbo without Gandalf’s help.

Daedalic claims you’ll make decisions influenced by each personality. Additionally, the personalities are often at war with one another.

“When you play Gollum, you’ll play Sméagol at the same time,” Daedalic CEO Carsten Fichtelmann told GamesBeat. “You need to make some decisions, maybe some decisions that are more or less from Sméagol, and some that are from Gollum…. The game forces you to convince yourself and find one of these two positions.”

If done right, this will flesh out the character and also make for an engaging game.

Are you looking forward to The Lord of the Rings: Gollum? What are you favorite Tolkien games? Tell us in the comments below!

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