Andre's Gaming Odds & Ends: The Gollum Disaster, My 2022 GOTY, Playstation Showcase Top 5
Andre gives his perspective on the failure LOTR: Gollum, his belated 2022 Game of the Year, and his Playstation Showcase Top 5.
The Gollum Disaster
The Lord of the Rings: Gollum just may be one of the worst video games I’ve ever watched and not played in a very long time. As a fan of The Lord of the Rings, I was hoping this would be a good game, but as I sort of alluded to in my last newsletter, I had an eerie feeling about this one. The promotion was almost non-existent and every trailer showed a graphics quality of Gollum that just wasn’t up to the times. For an indie game or something else you can make excuses for it, but this is LOTR for goodness sake! It has to look good!
When I saw all the reviews start rolling in that were in universal agreement that this is 2023’s worst game of the year, I was a little skeptical. It’s unusual for everyone in gaming to agree on something. I wanted to check it out myself just to make sure. It’s bad, like really bad! I watched various people play many parts of the game and the flaws were incredibly glaring. not just visually, but the game is incredibly stale. The developer, Daedalic Entertainment, is known for good point-and-click story games, so it’s a mystery why they chose to make LOTR: Gollum a 3D platformer. I did see parts of the story, particularly the beginning and the end of the game, and the ends is just atrocious.
One of the gameplay mechanics is making decisions as Gollum/Smeagol by battling between his split-personalities. We saw it play out on screen in the movies, but in a video game format that’s a little harder to do. They just went the simple route of making text decisions through a serious of questions that ultimately leads to one final decision where either Gollum or Smeagol wins out. Since I did see the beginning of the game, the developers did a very poor job of explaining Gollum’s backstory. In fact, they didn’t explain it all! Anyone unfamiliar with the story won’t know why Gollum can’t make a decision easily. The core part of the game involves a lot of bad and boring platforming plus annoying stealth.
There are a bunch of video game success stories of games getting their problems fixed and turning into something great, but this won’t be one of them. LOTR: Gollum can’t be fixed or salvaged. The game did have performance issues, but the bad core game experience is something that just can’t be easily replaced without starting fresh.
We would like to sincerely apologize for the underwhelming experience many of you had with The Lord of Ring: Gollum upon its release. We acknowledge and deeply regret that the game did not the expectations we set for ourselves or for our dedicated community. Please accept out sincere apologies for any disappointment this may have caused.
Our goal as a studio, as as passionate The Lord of the Rings fans, has always been to tell a compelling and immersive story-driven adventure. Crafting a story with Middle-earth as our playground has been the greatest honor - and the biggest challenge we have faced so far.
At Daedalic, we understand that a game's success relies on the enjoyment and satisfaction of its players. We genuinely value your feedback and have been actively listening to your voices, reading your comments, and analyzing the constructive criticism and suggestions you have provided.
Our development team has been working diligently to address the bugs and technical issues many of you experienced. We are committed to providing you with patches that will allow you to enjoy the game to its fullest potential.
Once again, we deeply apologize for any inconvenience caused, and we appreciate your understand during this time. We will continue to keep you updated on our progress and provide transparent communication regarding the upcoming patches and improvements. Your passion and dedication as players have been the driving force behind our deterimination to make things right.
Thank you for your support.
This has to be one of the most pathetic things I have ever read from a corporate video game developer. To add insult to the already terrible game, they mess up the name of their own game in the first paragraph! A complete disaster. I do hope we get a deeper explanation of what went wrong because this company has to get it right. They’re already slated to develop another LOTR game that we don’t know of yet. May Gandalf protect us all.
2023: The Year of the Video Game Apologies
The Lord of the RIngs: Gollum isn’t the first game in 2023 to have their corporate developer apologize, it’s actually the fourth. Star Wars: Jedi Survivor, Forspoken, and Redfall (previously recognized as the worst game of 2023 before LOTR: Gollum) had been apologized for in 2023 for various reasons. The one thing they all have in common is that they are made by corporate developers. Enough of the apologies. Maybe 2023 is just unlucky, but we gamers are starting to catch on and be much more annoyed with games that release in a poor state. This act of being surprised when gamers don’t like their game is a clear result of bad quality assurance and knowingly pushing out unfinished products.
One of the reasons I like indie games is they aren’t controlled by shareholders and boardrooms. That’s where the most unique games come from. Unfinished corporate games get pushed out for the shareholders to meet quarterly goals and they bank on forgiveness and fixing the problems later. I hope and think we may be at a turning point where this type of attitude will no longer be tolerated, but it has to start with gaming journalists being much harsher and less forgiving for performance issues. /rant
My 2022 Favorite Game of the Year…(I Think)
Vampire Survivors (PC)
2022 was a decent year for games, with big Triple-A games like Elden Ring and God of War: Ragnarok releasing. Elden Ring is a massive game that I had technical problems with for the PC version, so I had to constantly battle those issues whenever I tried to play. I still haven’t finished Elden Ring, but I enjoyed what I played of it so far. I felt like I had to move on to other games because I was spending too much time with that. The tech issues wasted a lot of time. God of War: Ragnarok is a game I was very interested in, played a bunch of it, but unfortunately when it released in November I got sick and put the game down. I never picked it back up, but that game is definitely going to be finished at some point this year. I also played some interesting indie games, but nothing quite stood out to me as much as Vampire Survivors.
Even if I had finished Elden Ring and GoW: Ragnarok, I still think Vampire Survivors would have stuck as my favorite game. This is a game that took me and the rest of the gaming world by surprise when it released on Steam Early Access in December 2021. The addicting nature of the game is what stands out the most. Vampire Survivors also proves that a game doesn’t need top graphics to be a hit video game. The gameplay and strategy of Vampire Survivors has some nuance, but the gameplay controls are as basic as moving your character around with WASD and avoiding enemies as your character automatically attacks and destroys enemies.
The addicting element of the game is killing enemies and picking up these little pellets of experience until your character can level up and choose from a random selection of either weapon upgrades, new weapons, or supporting skills. Where the game gets interesting is unlocking new weapons and picking the right combinations of weapons and supporting skills to evolve weapons that can unlock other parts of the game like new characters, new weapons, or new levels. Surviving 30 minutes is the goal, as the waves of enemies get stronger and harder as time passes.
After each level you’ll acquire gold to spend on permanent upgrades to make your character stronger for survival. Other games in this rogue-lite format can feel super grindy, but Vampire Survivors succeeds because you never get that feeling. It’s also the kind of casual experience that you can quickly start and play a level. Vampire Survivors has since added two new DLC content expansion since it officially launched in October 2022. One of the major reasons I have to give credit to Vampire Survivors is its impact on the indie game scene. Many new games have since popped up with a similar game setup and their own different spin.
Vampire Survivors was the indie darling throughout the entirety of 2022. Every update added more fun and gameplay to the game that kept everyone’s attention. I’m not sure that I’ve seen another game release on Steam Early Access maintain popularity and momentum after every single update all the way to version 1.0. The game also has a very good soundtrack that adds to the fun.
Vampire Survivors, developed by poncle, is always going to be remembered for its improbable level of popularity for most of 2022, and now it will be known as Andre’s Favorite Game of 2022! If you haven’t already checked it out, please do. It’s free on mobile and $4.99 on PC. I usually try to avoid talking about prices, but this is a special exception.
My Playstation Showcase Top 5
The Playstation showcase was on May 24 and they shared news of a bunch of new games, plus updates of games we already knew. The showcase had a mixed reception among gamers, but I thought it was ok and not great. I liked a lot of the games they showed, but not all of them were Playstation exclusives, so that’s both a good thing for me (I don’t have a PS5) and a not so good thing if their goal is to sell more Playstation 5’s.
The below games are my top 5 games from the showcase with a brief explanation of why I picked them. I recommend you watch the trailers and you can click the titles to find more information.
1. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 (Fall 2023)
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 is the game I found the most interesting because this is the first gameplay we’ve seen for this. In this game you’ll be able to swap between Peter Parker and Miles Morales. The trailer showed a lot of cinematic action sequences and some combat that looked really cool. As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t own a PS5, and this is only the second game after Final Fantasy XVI that gives me the itch to want one.
2. The Plucky Squire (2023)
The Plucky Squire totally caught me by surprise. It’s both a 2D and 3D action-adventure that has beautiful visuals about Jot and friends jumping out of a storybook to stop a villain. The use of both 2D and 3D were the first immediate things to standout about this game. This is definitely a candidate for my Hype Rankings.
Dragon’s Dogma 2, developed by Capcom, is the sequel of a fantasy game from many years ago. Dragon’s Dogma is still on my bucket list to play and there’s a chance I might before the year is over. I really liked this trailer because it showed some cool fantasy gameplay and decent looking cinematics. I’m not over the moon excited about this like others because I haven’t played the first one, but it looks like a solid fantasy game experience. I just need to know more about the game mechanics to get more interested.
4. Towers of Aghasba (2024)
Towers of Aghasba is another game that caught me by surprise. This is a very beautiful game about gathering materials and building an ancestral land. I was really struck by the incredible visuals and creatures in the trailer. I don’t know much about it now, but I’m definitely keeping tabs on this one.
5. Ultros (2024)
Ultros is a game that easily tugs on my indie game heart due to the art direction. This is a psychedelic metroidvania game that automatically pops off the screen due to the colors. I look forward to learning more about this. The game will need more than just colors to grab me with so many other games like this out there. This will definitely be on my radar to keep tabs on.
My Upcoming Showcase Schedule
Below is a list of showcases I’ll be watching and giving my favorites of soon. The links send you to the general channel where the showcase will happen, so you’ll have to track down the live link or video of the conference from there. A lot of them will be available on both their YouTube and Twitch channels if you have a preference. You can expect a lot of showcase coverage from me in the future!
Content in the Works
The next issue or two of the newsletter might be totally focused on showcases with nothing else.
After the showcases, here are some things to look forward to that are in the pipeline (no particular order or timeframe):
HBO’s The Last of Us Season One FULL REVIEW (Non-Spoiler)
Undisputed Steam Early Access Report (Boxing game)
Cassette Beasts (PC) Short Initial Thoughts (I played on Xbox Game Pass)
Demo Thoughts of Games I’ve Played
June 2023 Game Hype Rankings
Street Fighter 6 FULL REVIEW
Diablo IV FULL REVIEW
Did you miss the first episode of the More From Andre Shortcast?
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