The Lord of the Rings Gollum feels like a classic stealth game

The Lord of the Rings Gollum isn’t reinventing middle-earth games after Shadow of War, but it does offer up its own take on the fantasy universe

The Lord of the Rings Gollum Preview Gameplay Stealth Games: Gollum can be seen looking at an eye.

Despite widespread love for the universe, we have had very little in the way of console and PC games based on The Lord of the Rings in recent times. Middle-earth Shadow of Mordor and Shadow of War developer, Monolith Productions, has moved on to create a Wonder Woman game, and waiting in the caverns has been Daedalic Entertainment’s The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.

And, after checking out a 30 minute hands-off demo, I was left with the impression that the game is going to be something fans of the franchise will love, but if you haven’t got that inbuilt appreciation for Tolkien’s work, I don’t think you’ll find much in the way of innovation in The Lord of the Rings Gollum.

The game gives players a look at Middle-earth through the eyes of Gollum, which hasn’t been done before, but draws upon familiar action-stealth gameplay you would, ironically, find in aspects of Monolith Productions’ games, as well as other stealth titles like Thief and the oft-forgotten Styx series.

The game gives players a look at Middle-earth through the eyes of Gollum, which hasn’t been done before, but draws upon familiar action-stealth gameplay you would, ironically, find in aspects of Monolith Productions’ games, as well as other stealth titles like Thief and the oft-forgotten Styx series.

From what I could gather, it seems like you will spend most of the game as Gollum, scuttling about the environment, listening in on conversations, and learning information, before you move onto your next objective.

To avoid being spotted and caught, you can climb and parkour, shimmying along ledges on cliffsides or swinging from metal beams inside grand halls.

The Lord of the Rings Gollum Preview Gameplay Stealth Games: Gollum can be seen hiding behind a small fence whilst large groups of forces march through a outpost

Gollum appears rather archaic in terms of game design

And, as The Lord of the Rings Gollum takes place before the movies, you will see a number of familiar faces. However, their character designs seem to draw more inspiration from the books, rather than the portrayals that were popularised in the movies.

I’ll admit, the majority of The Lord of the Rings knowledge goes completely over my head. So beyond the game being set before the movies and providing an original origin for the four-legged freak, there isn’t much else I can draw from the setting of Gollum and what secrets the game might have waiting in its wings.

However, from the gameplay side, Gollum appears rather archaic in terms of game design. From what I saw, which was a mid-section of the game and the tutorial, Gollum appears to traverse linear levels, clearing out enemies by jumping onto them and knocking them out before moving on, which reminded me a lot of the PS2-era of stealth-action games.

The Lord of the Rings Gollum Preview Gameplay Stealth Games: Gollum can be seen wandering through a forest.

And, while the game didn’t seem like anything surprising or unconventional, I actually found the callback to a very classic approach to level design and gameplay to be rather refreshing. And, it kind of felt like a perfect fit for such a long-standing and beloved franchise.

Those that have read the books and love the films will probably delight in being able to surround themselves with characters they know. You will also be able to get a behind-closed-doors look into the political scheming behind allegiances and conflicts as Gollum hides under tables and balances on chandeliers – the kind of secrets you couldn’t discover if you weren’t a small creature clambering around the environment and hiding from danger.

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From this early look at The Lord of the Rings: Gollum, it seems to be a game of two contrasts: a gameplay style that’s incredibly familiar and, to an extent, primitive, but a portrayal of an iconic character that is fresh and new. Whether this blend will actually work and please everybody remains to be seen, but ultimately the game is opening up a new window into The Lord of the Rings universe when it releases on September 1, 2022.