Daedalic Entertainment’s second developer diary for The Lord of the Rings: Gollum focuses on its eponymous protagonist. Since the release of Peter Jackson’s first The Lord of the Rings movie in 2001, Gollum has been a familiar face in pop culture. The once-Hobbit corrupted by Sauron’s One Ring and his warring identities, a dark reflection of the ring-bearer Frodo Baggins’ internal struggles, is no simple task to turn into a video game’s hero. Yet Daedalic is emboldened by the opportunity presented by The Lord of the Rings: Gollum.
Daedalic’s first developer diary revolves around the studio’s creative approach to Middle-earth. It recognized the challenge of developing a game set in a world that’s been so well explored in popular media already. Daedalic set to the project knowing it had audiences coming from The Lord of the Rings movies, JRR Tolkien’s original books, and also general video game fans. Its goal was said to be to create something everyone could like, while still delivering a purely Daedalic experience.
The second developer diary centers on Gollum himself, the game’s protagonist. Rather than discussing gameplay, however, the video is about Gollum’s character, personality, and the art going into his creation. Gollum is looked at as an incredibly complex character in The Lord of the Rings source material. Daedalic points to Gollum’s two identities, the first being obsessed with the One Ring and the second seeking to reconnect with others. How those identities present themselves in The Lord of the Rings: Gollum‘s story, art, and gameplay is why Daedalic chose the character as its protagonist.
Writer Tilman Schanen says that Daedalic decided that it wanted a Gollum that would “match the imaginations” of fans but that stood unique from previous media. Gollum still has great emotion-filled eyes in the films, which help drive empathy, and he otherwise stays true to descriptions from The Lord of the Rings books. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum‘s version of the character should very much stand apart, however.
With Gollum as a protagonist, The Lord of the Rings: Gollum gets to offer a rare and unique perspective of Middle-earth. As 3D animator Maxim Koch explains, Gollum crawls through shadows, climbs along walls, and doesn’t move like typical video game protagonists, in general. He also poses a unique writing opportunity, with Schanen explaining Gollum’s willingness to talk and fight with himself opening up unique narrative opportunities — and challenges.
The developer diary also offers a glimpse of Gollum voice actor Liam O’Brien’s thoughts on performing the character. He describes how Gollum’s voicing is demanding not just vocally, but physically. Gollum is a strained, stressed being and O’Brien says capturing that demands being somewhat strained and stressed himself. It’s just a taste of the full experience players will experience in The Lord of the Rings: Gollumbut should help convey just how rich of an experience it will be overall.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum releases May 25 on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S, with a Switch release to follow later.
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