Why is Gollum such a great game or why do I enjoy it so much?

disclaimer: I can’t write, so enjoy this drivel.

Gollum is released in 2023.
Lovely developer: Daedalic Entertainment.


Gollum came out and I saw a mob of gamers chase it with pitch forks. Then I forgot about it. Until it appeared as a trial version in my Playstation Plus subscription.
To me this is one of the most immersive role playing game I have experienced.
It could be because I think I like the LOTR-universe (haven’t seen all the movies, don’t have patience to read the books).
But I think my enjoyment also comes from the clever design choices in this game: what is the core of the game and stick to that.
There’s no open world, no crafting, no looting, no collecting for gems and stones and packages.
Maybe I suffer slightly from gaming OCD, but for a first playthrough I find this core experience so clean and fresh.

Gollum the character

It is such a joy to see the (partly procedurally generated) animation and model of Golum. I mean to say that every second I like and appreciate the way Gollum moves around in the game.
The movement really adds to the story and setting. Because it walks around as if it is afraid and a bit naughty. He’s so cute.
I also really like the design choise to give Gollum a younger and cuter face, since I am looking at him for many hours.
The voice actor is good. The writing is good. The idle animations are good.
So much is good.

The writing

I’m bad at story techniques or analysing dialogues, but I can tell when I like a story or dialogue.
Both the story and dialogue feel not cliche. Unfortunately most AAA games I have played are filled with boring cliche stories and predictable dialogue.
Gollum and Smeagol are 2 personalities inside his mind and they are talking out loud to eachother. That’s original and funny already. At least very interesting to pay attention to.
This is also incorperated into gameplay, by first making a choice in the story and then convincing yourself of the choice you selected.
Funny example of dialogue with itself: Smeagol (innocent, obedient voice): “see how I did that?” Gollum (dirty raspy voice): “Well done, my love”.
Or Gollum/Smeagol is talking to itself and a near standing orc responds. Gollum: “wasn’t asking you”.
Hmm, ok maybe this doesn’t really sound that funny when written by me. But in the context of the game, when you care for Gollum, this comes unexpected and that makes it funny, I think.
Oh, I forgot to mention the story. So far, I’m in chapter 3. The story feels different and interesting. Because Gollum is captured at the start of the game and you spend many days in the underground hellish Orc prison camp.
The story progresses by cut scenes and dialogue and it flows well. It’s just good and I don’t know why exactly.

Gameplay

Criticism on the Gollum game were that tasks or missions were dull. 1 review said: “I literally had to stand in a line”.
Exactly those tasks serve the story. It makes you feel you are in the story and experience what the character experiences.
From a gameplay point it is cleanly done: it does not “overwelcome its stay”, as many modern open world games do with most of its sub missions.
One other Gollum-task-example: collect 5 name tags of dead slaves, because you are at the lowest point of the hierarchical ladder. They are collected easily and you don’t have to walk back. Story continues.
Does camera movement belong to gameplay? No, not really. I have to wait until the next paragraph starts before I can mention the camera.

Platforming – I remember some reviews were complaining about platforming. It’s not elegantly done, but it works. It’s not broken. The platforming is climbing and jumping. It’s not difficult. I think it’s in the game because Gollum is an agile character, so once again, it serves the story/setting. Gameplay technically you could say it’s a variation on walking around. It’s fine.

Visuals

I’m playing Gollum on purpose on a PS4, the graphics work for me.
Why do I play the PS4-version? I have a kind of weird fetish to play games on an older system to see how the game works and feels.
I really like the camera when walking. The camera is able to follow Gollum from a really low ground-level angle, which makes you feel as small as Gollum. Perfect!
Yes, I noticed some glitches (sometimes a low resolution texture, weird camera movement when climbing a ladder) or a bug (when gollum respawns it keeps repeating the line about the beast, in chapter 1 or 2), but nothing game breaking. And the gliches I saw, I am willing to forget, because the game does so much right for me.
Framerate. Yes, the framerate on the PS4 version sometimes drops below 30 (I think). It mostly does not happen in platforming parts. I grew up on N64 games. Perfect Dark on the N64 was sometimes 15 fps, so I can deal with it. I can understand however, that others may find this not attractive.

Conclusion

I wanted to ignore Gollum the game, because usually I dont like licensed games and I’m not a LOTR-fan (although I am now discovering I like the LOTR-world and story).
After using the PS Plus Trial-option and tried Gollum for an hour, I found out I enjoyed the the game a lot and wanted to buy to support the devs (the company is closed down, so who am I supporting?).
Why did this game receive bad ratings from the gaming press? (and why did the same gaming press give high ratings to Starfield?)
Is this game made for me only?
Will the Gollum developers ever know that people appreciate this game?

My rating: 9/10.

More to read:
Gollum on Wikipedia

I also make small games. For example check out my most popular game Plants.

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