The Lord of the Rings: Gollum Branching Narrative Depends on Player Decisions

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum

The Lord of the Rings has always been a beloved franchise from the books to the epic movies that immortalized the memorable characters of the grand story. From the Fellowship of the Ring to The Return of the King, the prequels, side stories, and more, Frodo, Aragorn, Gandalf, and all other characters are know quite familiar to everyone. Even the villains are quite known to everyone, even the creepiest and also the most misunderstood villain of all: Gollum.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum is the next game of the big franchise and is in development right now by German video game developer Daedelic Entertainment. It will be a mixture of stealth-action and interactive narrative gameplay and expands J.R.R. Tolkien’s original fiction.

Lead Narrative Designer Tilman Schanen and Lead Game Designer Martin Wilkes shared some insight about the game to gaming publication IGN in an exclusive interview recently. One of the topics being talked about was its interesting narrative gameplay.

In the game, the main protagonist Gollum will be forced to make decisions and dialogue choices. Players will have to choose from different responses proposed by the two personalities who live within the sad creature: the gentle Smeagol or the angry and psychotic Gollum who came out after he got corrupted by the One Ring. Schanen revealed that there will be branching narrative to play through.

The decisions players make in the game will actually influence the animations, certain situations, and dialogue. Everyone knows how Gollum ends up in the whole story, but in this particular game, player decisions can take effect on many elements.

Schanen explains:

--the decisions you make affect the way the game feels. You always either play as Sméagol or as Gollum as the ‘dominant’ persona and that can influence animations, soundscapes, certain gameplay situations, and in-game dialogue.

The game developers did clarify that they will not make any changes to the source material. It will be set before the books. Gollum will be journeying to a certain point in the world, but that whole journey can change.

Schanen continues his explanation:

We naturally stay within certain limits. It won’t be like you’re going to end up destroying Middle-earth because you never made a Sméagol choice. In the end, of course, Gollum’s fate is pretty much determined by the books. But your decisions can and will have effects, for example, for other NPCs in the game. Some decisions will have a bigger impact, others very little. Just as in real life.

Wilkes added some context. He said that the narrative gameplay will be some sort of a morality system that most narrative-focused games would have. Only this time, there would not be any physical changes to his looks.

The lead game designer shared some details:

--but a bit more twisted than in most other games. It’s not as simple as, ‘Choose Sméagol to be good, choose Gollum to be evil’. Our first rule is to stay true to the character (or our interpretation of him at least). Since you play two personalities in one character, choosing sides will give you some control. But it’s more like maneuvering a truck with two flat tires and trying not to drive it off a cliff.

Gollum will still be himself and the choices you make in the game will only give you some advantage to certain situations and such. It will not make some big story altering maneuver like turning Gollum into an agent of good. Either way, it will be interesting how his story will turn out in this game.

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum will launch sometime in 2021 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, and PC.

Interview source: IGN

Check out the teaser trailer here courtesy of IGN: