Edge

RING BEARER

Game The Lord Of The Rings: Gollum

Developer/publisher Daedalic Entertainment

Format PC, PS5, Series X

Release 2021

The quest to make a Gollum game begins with the recognition that nobody wants to be Gollum. In case you haven’t had the pleasure, Gollum is the scurrying, gangrel creature who, in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, joins Frodo Baggins on his journey to return the powerful One Ring to its fiery birthplace. This comes a few centuries after Gollum, then an amiable bumpkin named Sméagol, murdered his own cousin for possession of the Ring and took it into the mountains, where it slowly mangled his body, shattered his personality and spurred him to all manner of evil. “This is really not a character you want to spend 20 hours with,” Daedalic’s art director Mathias Fischer admits. “So our biggest challenge was to make him a bit more sympathetic, a bit more relatable. Maybe brush over the fact that he’s eaten children.”

If you are familiar with Gollum, it’s probably thanks to Andy Serkis’ frothing, motion-captured performance in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations. But the truth is there are many Gollums, much as there are many renditions of Middle-earth besides the glorious, sweeping antipodean landscapes of Jackson’s movies. “Tolkien didn’t give a size reference for Gollum to begin with,” Fischer notes. “So in the first illustrations, he’s gigantic! He’s like a monster emerging from the swamp.” There’s also the fuzzy green insect you meet in Gene Deitch’s 1966 animation, and the skinny black lizard from 2003’s The Hobbit videogame. Daedalic’s interpretation – whose final design is kept tantalisingly off-limits during our trip to the company’s Hamburg offices – looks like none of these, but nor does it resemble the character’s most famous incarnation.

“YOU CAN SEE THAT THIS WAS ONCE SOMETHING LIKE A HUMAN BEING BEFORE THE RING CORRUPTED HIM”

“We don’t want to displease the folks who have only seen the movies,” senior producer tells us. “But in short, he doesn’t look like Andy Serkis. We started with the person he was and then evolved him. You can see that this was once something

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