Lord of the Rings: Gollum launches Sept 1 – and possibly another trilogy

Lord of the Rings: Gollum, key art (c) Daedalic, NACON, MeE
Lord of the Rings: Gollum, key art (c) Daedalic, NACON, MeE

German gaming studio Daedalic Entertainment has finally announced the release date for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum – September 1st, 2022. What will the fans get to see the day before the most expensive series of all times drops with Prime Video?

It has been a while since Lord of the Rings: Gollum was first announced. Daedalic CEO Carsten Fichtelmann had first dropped the bomb at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco (March 19-22, 2019), quickly followed by a Hollywood Reporter piece where Fichtelmann explained the cooperation with Middle-earth Enterprises and suggested a release date in 2021. A lot of things happened since then, among them the pandemic and the buyout by French publisher NACON, so it came as no surprise the game was delayed. Perhaps this all worked out for the better as the new release date coincides with the beginning of LotR:RoP. If we can call this is a coincidence, of course.

First teaser trailer, March 24 2021.

What will the fans get to see?

The shortest of all press descriptions was:

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a story-driven action adventure. Take on a perilous journey as Gollum, chasing the only thing that is precious to him. Gollum is skillful and cunning, but also torn by his split personality. One mind, two egos – you decide!

When the first teaser trailer dropped on March 24, 2021 – and do remember, Tolkien fans the world over are very, very curious about all sorts of things around March 25th! – it reminded fans of elements of the film trilogies but also managed to bring in new sights and sounds. In fact, Daedalic noted very clearly from the beginning that the game would be based on the books, not on the films – but the close-up on Gollum’s eyes would have reminded the film fans of a certain other trailer of many, many moons ago.

But Daedalic and NACON did not stop there and published another sneak peek with some top level creepiness the next day.

When Harald Riegler, producer at Daedalic Entertainment, did a short, two minutes video published on July 6, 2021, fans heard quite a few facts about the game that had not been clear before.

  • Gollum is essential to the story but his hunt for the Ring has never been fully detailed
  • Gollum travelled everywhere and has basically met everyone
  • The journey takes him from Mordor to Mirkwood to the Mines of Moria
  • He has learned not to takes sides other than his own
  • Some of the most powerful being in Middle-earth want him either captive or dead
  • Daedalic intends to be “highly faithful to the descriptions in the books”

The short info paragraph on the game with Youtube also changed:

In this (cinematic) action-adventure game combining stealth and parkour, you play as one of the most complicated and iconic characters created by J.R.R Tolkien. Tormented and constantly switching between two personalities, Gollum is a different type of “hero” and the central character in this story that takes him from Mordor to the depths of Moria.

At the same time they also published three character stills which really made me happy: Gandalf, Thranduil, Mouth of Sauron. They were new and independent depictions of these characters and I think that is a great idea with a game that is supposed to be quite different from the rest of them.

 

 

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At some point the Daedalic even made good fun of some fans on when the release date would be announced (see above).

However, with the next and so far last teaser trailer Daedalic released on Dec 10, 2021, the creepiness factor of the game took a steep hike – and again, the info text had changed:

If you had nothing more to lose… how far would you go for what you desire the most?

Take on a perilous journey as Gollum, chasing the only thing that is precious to him. From his time as a slave below the Dark Tower to his stay with the Elves of Mirkwood, climb, leap, and sneak your way past dangers. Skillful and sly, Gollum is also torn by his split personality. It is up to you to decide whether the darker side of Gollum takes over or if there is a spark of reason left in what once was Sméagol.

For Gollum, murder may seem like nothing – but how can the game cope with this?

Tom’s Guide saw some extended game play as early as March 2021 and for the May 24th publicity work some more material was forthcoming that I also had the opportunity to have a look at. It looks promising, I have to say, but I am quite a bit of  a coward and I am not sure I could play this game from beginning to end without succumbing to weeks of nightmares. It really, really looks creepy as hell.

More importantly:

“We’re talking about a game series,” Carsten Fichtelmann, Daedalic’s CEO, told Tom’s Guide. “Gollum is the first game in the game series we are working on. There will be a second game, and hopefully a third game.” [Source]

And that harkens back to a short paragraph in one of the earlies press statements given by Fichtelmann:

Gollum is the first title being developed in the new partnership between Daedalic and Middle-earth, but plans for further games in the future are in the works. [Source]

What this means is not quite clear. Will we get two other interesting characters to form a trilogy of ‘grey’ characters – let’s have the Witch-king and Tom Bombadil work their magic! – or something completely different? I am looking forward to playing this game even though I am very, very afraid!

 

 

 

Marcel Aubron-Bülles

A Tolkien fan for twenty-five years (and more to come...) Founding chairman of the German Tolkien Society, Co-Founder of Ring*Con, Co-Founder of the ITF, host, presenter and fantasy expert