LotR Gollum is So Bad its Developer is Quitting the Industry (Sort Of)

/ 10 months ago
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

Having been a gamer for thirty-something years, I’ve had my fingers burned more than a few times when it has come to buying titles on the exact day of their release. – With so much time passed, and so so many mistakes having been made on my part over the years though, have I finally come to learn my lesson? Well, despite thinking I probably had, it seemed that this was not the case when I purchased Lord of the Rings: Gollum.

Yep, God help me, I bought it on release day!

So, was it any good? Well, no. It was bloody awful. And I have to say ‘was’ only from the standpoint that having done my best to give it a chance, after two hours of (shall I generously say) ‘gameplay’, I have still yet to work up the courage to make a return. Yeah… Gollum was a terrible game. Quite frankly, I’m still not willing to go back to find out if anything has changed for the better.

Don’t take my word for it though. Critical reception for LotR Gollum has been bad too! A Metacritic user score of 1.1 tells you pretty much everything you need to know! – Albeit, with the notable caveat that a LOT of user complaints were simply over the fact that Gollum was not voice by Andy Sarkis. This, it should be noted, was the metaphorical equivalent of being primarily concerned at a flat tyre following your teenage son writing the family car off.

Back on point though, Gollum is bad. Got that? Good! How bad though? Well, for the developer and publisher, Daedalic, this title may have been so awful that it may have actually killed them off. Well, in part at least!

Yes, it seems that LotR Gollum has been such an outright commercial and critical failure that following a report via EscapistMagazine, Daedalic has confirmed that it is officially ending all internal game development. – In a nutshell, from this point on all they’re going to do is publish titles!

Gollum has Officially Killed Daedalic!

When originally announced around four years ago, LotR Gollum looked pretty impressive. Hell, it looked impressive a year ago. Yes, the hype train was nicely gathering steam. ALTHOUGH, some light rumblings of concern were being made at the time. Namely, this was a markedly unusual venture for a relatively humble (small is a more accurate word) studio like Daedalic. Until this point, their bread and butter predominantly lay within point-and-click adventure games. Such as, for example, their highly-popular and critically acclaimed ‘Deponia’ series.

With that being said, however, such a decent track record did seem to offer more comfort than concern that ‘Gollum’ was going to be a solid title.

Release day, however, had no such comfort for me or thousands of others. Gollum is utter garbage!

If having such a turkey with your name on it wasn’t bad enough though, it would appear that it’s done so poorly that Daedalic has had to completely bow out of the game development industry. I suspect, just to cover the licensing expense of such a massive franchise.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

What Went Wrong?

Today, I can’t say for certain that Gollum isn’t a passable title. As I noted above, I last played it on release and I’m still yet to work up any enthusiasm for a return. So, the short version is that Daedalic may have (somewhat) fixed it a little. However, the issues within were clearly so deep and so fatal that I can only conclude that, with this announcement from Daedalic, Gollum is probably dead. It can’t be fixed. It is what it is. Get used to it!

Why was it so terrible though? Well, graphically it was, at best, unappealing. Worse, it just ran AWFUL. – There were constant framerate drops and stutters which, following a little digging on my part, it turned out were due to Daedalic deciding to not prerender shaders meaning GPUs had to rather regularly do massive additional workloads on the fly.

I won’t get into the details too much, but let me just say rather that choosing to not pre-render shaders in a title such as this is a BAD idea!

More than anything though, I can’t help but come back to the point I made earlier. Getting their fingers on the Lords of the Ring franchise was a huge snag for Daedalic. One which, ultimately, may have ended up being much bigger than they were actually capable of handling. – I’m actually left with vibes more than a little reminiscent of the ill-fated ‘Friday the 13th’ gaming title. Good intentions, but with the developer simply not being big enough to manage expectations (fans or their own).

I’m sure Daedalic wanted Gollum to be a good game. I do, however, suspect that with it being in development for at least four years, the money had started to run out. And worse, with it now being released, it’s entirely possible that the licensing agreement may have stipulated payment terms that were not linked to sales.

In a nutshell, Daedalic might’ve needed this to be a hot seller to make the franchise contract beneficial.

Cynics will, of course, cite the lesson that a big franchise attached to a crap production will never succeed if the sole purpose of it is to print money. – A lesson which, it seems, Daedalic is going to pay for with its overall exit from the game development market. Harsh? Maybe. From my point of view though, and specifically being circa £50 poorer for the experience, I can’t say I feel too bad about it!

So, will I buy any more games on release day? No! Well, probably…

What do you think though? – Let us know in the comments!

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