The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is being brutally panned by critics

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum trailer still
(Image credit: Daedalic Entertainment)

Lord of the Rings: Gollum launches this week, and here's our review —not glowing, but somewhat positive largely thanks to the story. Plenty of other outlets have also published reviews, however, and wow: This game is taking an utter, utter beating. Our 64% score? That's one of the highest scores it's received so far. Gollum's PC version currently stands at 43/100 on Metacritic, while the PlayStation version's on an even-more abysmal 37. The Guardian's Nick Reuben goes straight in with both feet, awarding the game one star out of five and leading with the strapline: "boil it, mash it, stick it in the bin".

PC Gamer sister site GamesRadar+ was equally disappointed, awarding Gollum two out of five stars and saying that "the overwhelming result of all of these compromises is a muddy, miserly vision of Middle-Earth, and one which never truly connects as a compelling fantasy playspace". GameSpot gives it a two out of 10, noting simply "we don't wants it, we don't needs it". Pushsquare is another two out of 10, calling Gollum "a broken mess of a game".

Twinfinite gives it 1.5 out of five, wondering "if even the most loyal Lord of the Rings fans would actually find something worthwhile here". Inverse is a three out of 10, calling the game "as pitiable as its namesake." 

Game Reactor joins the chorus and awards the game 4 out of 10, calling it "shocking at times. The gameplay is flat and repetitive, the stealth poorly implemented, the narrative dull, the progression nonexistent, the character models ugly, the bugs plentiful, the list goes on [...] Someone should cast it back into the fires of Mt. Doom from whence it came". So I don't think they liked it.

TheGamer liked some elements, such as the in-game lore explanations and certain character designs, but ultimately awards it 1.5 out of 5 and says it's "as dull mechanically as it is aesthetically. The stealth missions are as dated as the character animations, forcing you on many an escort task as well as hiding in shadows aplenty. Throwing rocks to distract guards ceased to be innovative or interesting a decade ago". Well Played's reviewer, meanwhile, awarded it three out of 10 and said that after 12-15 hours of play they just "couldn’t take anymore".

It's a three out of 10 from PCGN, whose reviewer bemoans that, instead of a grand LotR fantasy adventure, "I was stuck in a dreary platformer with weak stealth game mechanics and a deeply uninspired plot". GG Recon says Gollum "puts the mid in Middle Earth" as it awards the game two stars out of five, while GameSkinny gives it four out of 10, saying "Outdated and plain bad mechanics simply mean that this title, much like the Balrog, should go back into the shadows." Gfinity? Two out of 10 and the winning strapline "Sauwrong".

There are a few scores that aren't quite as dire as the above, but the highest this game seems to have managed, even with reviewers who found elements charming, is the 60s and low 70s. Our review reckoned there is something to like here, saying that "for all its many flaws, LOTR: Gollum is an oft-beautiful and oddly endearing adventure."

It should be said that the PlayStation versions do appear to have more technical issues than the PC one, and several of the reviews based on PlayStation code dock the score for these, but a whole lot of folk seem to think this is a serious misfire from Daedelic. I never really understood why The Hobbit needed three films. But it looks like Gollum couldn't even manage one good game.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."