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2023’s worst-rated game just turned one, and no one even noticed

A part of me had some misguided hope that, a year from release, maybe The Lord of the Rings Gollum could do a Cyberpunk 2077 - I was wrong.

2023's worst-rated game just turned one, and no one even noticed: A humanoid creature with thinning hair and big eyes, with pointed ears, looks into the camera, moonlight shining on its face

What were you doing on May 25, 2023? If you’re anything like me, you probably can’t remember what you got up to at the weekend, never mind a random Thursday (yes, I checked) a year ago. While I can’t pinpoint my exact location, I know that I spent days following The Lord of the Rings: Gollum release date watching a full playthrough of the creepy little creature’s bizarre adventure – it was, in many ways, like watching a car crash in slow motion; I couldn’t look away. With the recent announcement of the new Gollum movie, morbid curiosity sent me to the game’s Steam page to see if something – anything – had changed in the year since launch. What I found was a game frozen in time.

While I wasn’t expecting a Cyberpunk 2077 redemption arc, the total lack of even a recent events and news tab on Steam makes it clear poor Gollum’s been abandoned, which perhaps isn’t too surprising given Daedalic shuttered its development division not long after the game’s rocky release. The Lord of the Rings: Gollum was always a weird idea that seemed destined to be best remembered for the mockery it endured, even if Smeagol’s internal bickering could have lent itself well to a memorable RPG yarn.

I’ve always loved videogames where choices affect the narrative – in Fable 2, I rocked my devil horns and various scars, and in Baldur’s Gate 3, I pushed many a domino and watched entire cities collapse as a result. What would happen if Gollum always wins? Does Smeagol just disappear? Or can he rise up and make Gollum “go away” for good? Questions I’ve turned over and over in my mind.

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But that isn’t what we got with LotR Gollum. Instead, we got the worst-rated game of 2023, complete with Comic Sans-style text, a slow and dreary story where your choices have little impact, an alleged AI apology, and the unfortunate closure of Daedalic’s development division.

Yet, for some bizarre reason, I still want to love it. I wondered if the recent announcement of The Hunt for Gollum might have piqued some interest. Maybe the game’s anniversary would trigger something? Alas, its 30-day peak currently sits at a measly 18 players, and its official Twitter account didn’t even celebrate its first anniversary, with its most recent – and seemingly final – tweet being the aforementioned apology.

One year later, The Lord of the Rings Gollum has fewer than 10 players: A graph showing the Steam player count for The Lord of the Rings Gollum

This feels very much like an obituary for LotR: Gollum, which will likely continue to gather dust in Steam libraries until the end of time – and, given the price point still sits at a hefty $49.99 / £42.99, I don’t see foresee a sudden resurgence anytime soon. If you love something, you should set it free; goodbye, LotR Gollum, I’ll always remember you.

With Gollum firmly in the grave, we have a list of all the best fantasy games that are often, in many ways, inspired by Tolkien’s work. Or, if you’re looking for the stealth-driven exploration that Gollum promised, we have a rundown of all the best stealth games, too.

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