As the new Lord of the Rings: Gollum game continues to take shape, developer Daedelic Entertainment looks to be taking the game in a different direction than other LOTR games. This makes sense as the main character for Lord of the Rings: Gollum is a lot different than the main cast of either the Lord of the Rings or Hobbit trilogies that mainstream fans of the series are familiar with. So far, the game looks like it will build Gollum’s story up as he makes his escape from Mordor. Players that decide to get their hands on the game when it releases should probably expect an experience that plays less like a fantasy role playing game and is instead true to the mechanics of stealth platformers.
With Lord of the Rings: Gollum’s recent reveals, fans should also expect that there will more than likely be a need for survival amidst trauma when they play through the story. While Gollum’s original personality, Smeagol, comes from an affluent Hobbit family a lot changes for him by the time he is introduced in the flagship LOTR books. Though he himself was still somewhat of an outsider, even in his own community, he was able to maintain some kind of relationship with those around him.
It is after his possession of the One Ring that Smeagol’s personality becomes as dark as it is in the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. These extreme behavioral changes after he gains possession of the Ring as well as Gollum’s status in the world around him has led to some real-world interpretations and analysis of his personality. These analyses of his defining characteristics ultimately climaxed with a diagnosis of Schizoid Personality Disorder.
It is when these aspects of Gollum’s character are explored that great care should be taken in the story that is told. The world’s approach to personality disorders and mental health has changed drastically since The Hobbit was first published in 1937. There is still a way to go in how society cares for and treats people suffering from mental illness, but no favors are done if Lord of the Rings: Gollum’s story is told in a way that exclusively sheds a negative light on him and his story. While Gollum is not a major antagonist and doesn’t actively engage with the world around him in villainous ways like other characters in the series, he is not a stranger to violent actions. Gollum should have a huge emphasis on exploring this in the new game, but through avenues that do not do more harm than good.
Typifying this behavior as exclusively a result of Gollum’s personality and his mental health is something that could potentially have a very negative effect on both the larger Lord of the Rings community and how people view mental illness. The analyses that was done identifies his behavior as Schizoid Personality Disorder because of the influences outside of Gollum himself. His behavior without the Ring is still antisocial but doesn’t become as extreme as it is until his exposure to that specific outside force and the supernatural power it has over those that possess it. While the Ring may not be prominent in the game’s story it will be important that while playing Lord of the Rings: Gollum its effects are felt.
Other mental illnesses have also been considered when looking at how Gollum’s character is affected by and interacts with the world around him. However, illnesses like Multiple Personality Disorder in their modern definitions and understandings all seemed to differ in symptoms than the ones that Gollum and Smeagol displayed. This doesn’t mean that the seriousness of what Gollum’s character has gone through is any less real – instead it means that it should be taken into careful consideration.
A story about Gollum is going to have an inherent need to look at his mental state. His mannerisms and actions when interacting with other characters are often jarring, especially when they’re put side by side with how the Fellowship tends to interact with one another throughout the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His extreme isolation makes him an outsider to his own people and alienates him from the rest of Middle Earth.
Smeagol himself is a Hobbit and part of a group of peoples that Tolkien describes in ways that are far removed from the being that Gollum becomes. The personality that the Ring brings out of Smeagol and turns into Gollum is gaunt, aggressive, and paranoid. It will be important that the supernatural power the Ring wields over its bearers is brought up and addressed along with these characteristics of Gollum. There may be intense events that are faced in the new Lord of the Rings: Gollum game that are integral to being able to understand his change as a character. It’s important that these events aren’t treated as individual aspects of Gollum’s life rather than compounded pieces of what became a dark existence for someone that once called himself part of Middle-earth’s more polite peoples.
In the end it seems likely that while these more intense aspects of Gollum’s nature will be addressed, the game will focus on the narrative of Gollum escaping Mordor in the franchise’s timeline more than his descent into the darkness due to the Ring’s influence. Gollum’s life is not one filled with innocent events by any definition, but he will have to try and escape the evil and power that surrounds him through his cunning and stealth alone. This won’t necessarily mean that he isn’t capable of force, rather that player’s will not be swinging axes and fighting through hordes of Uruk-hai as they play Lord of the Rings: Gollum. The game’s stealth oriented gameplay should fit the character of Gollum well and also allow for ample development in his character.
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is coming to PC, PS4, PS5, Switch, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.