Stealth-Based Video Game 'The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum' Will Have Branching Narrative But Abide By The Books

For the last little while, things have been a bit silent on The Lord of the Rings front. We know that a prequel series is in development for Amazon. Now, we have gotten a trailer for a prequel video game from Daedalic Entertainment titled The Lord of the Rings: Gollum. Actually, “prequel” might be a bit of a misnomer, as the story takes place parallel to the early pages of The Fellowship of the Ring, as lead narrative designer Tilman Schanen tells IGN:

"We start our story parallel to the first book when Frodo is still in the Shire and knows nothing about anything. Gollum at that time ventures to Mordor still desperately looking for Bilbo Baggins and the Ring. Unfortunately, he gets caught by Sauron’s servants and this is basically where our story begins.”

For those unfamiliar with the timeline of the books, here is Gollum’s history in the Third Age of Middle-earth according to the literature:

2463 – Deagol the Stoor finds the Ring, but then Smeagol murders him and takes it.

2470 – Smeagol, now Gollum by this time, finds refuge beneath the Misty Mountains.

2941 – The events of The Hobbit begin and result in Bilbo Baggins finding the Ring and escaping Gollum’s cave.

2942 – The Hobbit ends.

2944 – Gollum leaves the Misty Mountains in search of the Ring.

3001 – Bilbo’s 111st birthday and departure from The Shire. The Ring is left with his nephew Frodo Baggins.

3009 – Gandalf and Aragorn begin their search for Gollum.

3009 – 3017 – Gollum goes into Mordor and gets captured by Sauron.

3017 – After revealing who took the Ring from him, Gollum is released from Mordor. Later, Aragorn finds him in the Dead Marshes, learns this information, and brings Gollum to the elves in Mirkwood, where he becomes a prisoner.

3018 – Gollum escapes during The Fellowship of the Ring.

3019 – Gollum follows the fellowship from the Mines of Moria and then plays his part in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

What the first Gollum trailer tells us about the next Lord of the ...

It seems that this game is set within the eight-year gap between 3009 and 3017. The new trailer for the game shows Gollum entering Mordor, recognizable via the imagery of Mount Doom and Sauron’s tower Barad-dûr. The latter resembling the tower depicted in the Peter Jackson films is one of various examples of how the imagery of the game will walk the fine line between staying close to the text (since game’s license is based on the book license) and evoking what people who have seen those films generally imagine when they think of Middle-earth. Gollum himself displays some of the humanity that Andy Serkis put into the role, but the game has changed him up a bit, giving him more hair to remind players that he was once a normal person, thus allowing them to empathize with him.

Of course, there will be some moral dilemmas within Gollum, which feed into the branching narrative. According to Schanen, “the decisions you make affect the way the game feels. You always either play as Sméagol or as Gollum as the 'dominant' persona and that can influence animations, soundscapes, certain gameplay situations, and in-game dialogue."

The game is stealth-based game that includes vertical parkour climbing. It is comparable to Prince of Persia, according to lead game designer Martin Wilkes. He says, "Gollum doesn’t use weapons, but he can distract enemies with throwables. In parts of the game, he will also profit from the abilities of special allies and can use the environment to his advantage."

While Daedalic has worked closely with Tolkien Enterprises during the making of this game, there is still room for creative freedom, even though the endpoint is dictated by notes in the literature. The people behind the game promise that there will be familiar faces. Given that bit of information, perhaps this game may present its own interpretation of Aragorn and Thranduil. The art depicting a forest of sorts could perhaps be a clue that this game will go into the Mirkwood portion of Gollum’s journey.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will be released sometime in 2021 for PC, Playstation 5, and X-Box Series X.

Source(s): IGN