Gollum is the worst-reviewed game of 2023 and a hilarious downgrade from pre-release images

 The Lord of the Rings: Gollum screenshot
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum screenshot

The Lord of the Rings: Gollum has finally gotten into the hands of players, and the results aren't pretty - in more ways than one. Not only is this the worst-reviewed game of 2023, the final release has drawn some hilariously unflattering comparisons to its pre-release screenshots.

On Metacritic, the PC version of Gollum has an aggregate score of 43, while the PS5 version sits at 40. (No reviews of the Xbox versions are tracked on the site.) For comparison, the maligned Redfall sits at a 54 on PC, and the absolutely inexplicable Crime Boss: Rockay City has a 52. In fairness to Gollum, a pretty limited number of games released every year generate enough critic reviews to even be ranked on Metacritic, and I'm sure you could find even worse if you trawl the bottom of Steam releases. But that's still a bad set of scores.

In our own Gollum review, Alex Avard calls the game "compromised, inelegant, and a bit of an eyesore," awarding it two stars out of five, smack in the middle of the game's review curve. Separately, Alex also tweeted a comparison of one of the game's pre-release screenshots to something from the shipping version, and the difference is astounding.

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Games shift in development all the time and the pre-release screen does note that it's in a "pre-alpha state" and subject to change, but this puts the deeply stupid Puddlegate controversy to shame. Never mind how much doofier and dead-eyed Gollum looks here - look at those fonts! Even Ice T would be appalled.

While these comparisons are funny, it's sad to see a project that so many developers spent so many years working on be released in such a state. Here's hoping whatever developer Daedalic Entertainment works on next earns a reputation more akin to the studio's well-regarded adventure games of years past.

Our guide to the best Lord of the Rings games has some alternatives for you to enjoy.