Facepalm: It's getting harder and harder to remember a time when games were actually finished before they were released. And unfortunately for Lord of the Rings game fans, Gollum developer Daedalic Entertainment seems to have forgotten the process altogether. The company released the action-adventure title earlier this week while still riddled with bugs and performance issues, leading some to call it the worst game they've ever reviewed.
Published by Nacon and developed by its subsidiary, Daedalic Entertainment, Gollum's development was announced back in March 2019 and accompanied by a much anticipated 2021 release date. The game's initial release was later delayed until 2022, and later delayed once again until 2023, this time with no definitive release date. The game finally arrived earlier this week... and that's where things went very, very wrong.
According to Daedalic, the additional delays were required to ensure there was time to deliver users "...the best possible experience."
Patience is a virtue that gamers are running short on these days, as developers and publishers have made the "release now, apologize later, finish even later" model a standard for even the biggest releases. Unfortunately for Daedalic, its apology tour began to fall flat before it even got started. Metacritic currently scores Gollum at 36, with the game receiving generally unfavorable reviews from more than 35 critics.
Some of the more colorful reviews included statements such as, "Gollum is probably the worst game set in the famous world, repulsive and unstable like the main character himself." Others, such as the review from DigitallyDownloaded, pulled no punches when voicing its frustration with the long-awaited release. According to its review, "...what makes Gollum stand out is that most other developers and publishers then use their creative teams to try and hide the crass cynicism and capitalism. Daedalic didn't bother with Gollum. This game represents the games industry with its mask off."
The harsh reception from critics, echoed by Gollum user reviews, prompted Daedalic to do what many of today's game companies have done before them: write an apology letter.
A few words from the " The Lord of the Rings: Gollum™ " team pic.twitter.com/adPamy5EjO– The Lord of the Rings: Gollum (@GollumGame) May 26, 2023
Typically, a new game's release being associated with some of the biggest AAA releases in the industry would make for some great press. But when you're keeping close company with botched releases like Battlefield 2042, The Last of Us Part 1, and Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, it's a good sign that there's room for improvement.
Like the rocky releases before it, Gollum's development team will likely continue releasing patches to address identified issues, stem the bleeding, and salvage what they can of the game and its fanbase. But based on the comments, reviews, and the release's poor initial reception, Daedalic may not be able to recover the trust of its user population any time soon.