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24 Oct 2023

REVIEW: The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria on PC (Epic Games Store)

Review by Jon Donnis
The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is a thrilling addition to the gaming world, offering players a unique experience set in the iconic Middle-earth universe. This title takes a different approach from many other Lord of the Rings games, focusing on survival crafting within the depths of Moria, and it does so admirably.

The game kicks off with a dwarf's adventure, assisting Gimli in what should have been a simple task - opening a sealed runic door in Moria. The unexpected twist of a massive explosion and a cave-in serves as the catalyst for the player's journey through the dark and perilous mines of Moria. Survival is the name of the game, as players must constantly monitor their health, hunger, and stamina, all while battling menacing orcs, goblins, and other lurking horrors.

One of the game's strengths lies in its freedom. After a brief tutorial, you're set loose in the vast, dwarven realm of Moria with the expectation that you'll figure things out for yourself. This independence adds an element of excitement to exploration but can occasionally become frustrating when you're unsure of where to go next and what to do, personally I prefer more of a hand holding experience in survival/crafting games, as it is not really my preferred genre. The game does however successfully immerse you in the dwarven lore, with every structure, character, and detail reflecting authentic dwarven culture.

Combat in Return to Moria is a highlight, allowing players to choose from various weapon types and styles, encouraging different approaches to combat. Each weapon offers unique damage types, adding depth to the gameplay. This variety keeps the action engaging and challenging, especially when you enter a new area and find all new types of enemies you need to take out.

The game's world is procedurally generated, ensuring that no two adventures are alike, and you can explore it alone or with friends in multiplayer. The focus on mining for resources adds an interesting twist to the survival aspect, but it comes with the trade-off of generating noise, which can attract danger.

The crafting and base-building mechanics allow for creativity in constructing and customizing your own bases while providing an authentic Dwarven experience. The story progression also encourages you to rebuild Moria to its former glory, adding a sense of accomplishment.

One noteworthy feature is the inclusion of actor John Rhys-Davies, who reprises his role as Lord Gimli Lockbearer, adding authenticity to the game's narrative.

Overall, The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria is a solid survival crafting game that beautifully integrates the lore and setting of Middle-earth. It stands proudly among the better Lord of the Rings branded games. While its freedom and richly detailed world are its strengths, occasional frustration over direction can be a drawback. Despite that, if you're a fan of the franchise and enjoy survival crafting, this game is well worth your time. With a score of 8 out of 10, it offers a rewarding journey through the depths of Moria that will satisfy both Tolkien enthusiasts and gamers alike.

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