Creating a truly multiplayer shooter that differentiates itself feels nigh impossible given the sheer glut of games in the genre. Lemnis Gate (previously known as Convergence) by Canadian developer Ratloop Games may well pull it off. This inventive shooter combines elements of time travel and turn-based mechanics to create a truly fresh and mind-boggling take on a well-worn genre.
Lemnis Gate’s core gameplay revolves around a difficult concept to explain so let’s start with the basics. The game is a hero-based first-person shooter that pits up to four opposing players against each other. Instead of controlling one individual character, each player commands an entire squad from a roster of 7 heroes (so far). Like similar games, Heroes sport specific traits and loadouts, such as one focused on laying down traps. Players win matches by completing their respective missions. In the bout I played against game director James Anderson, I needed to destroy one of three objectives. Anderson’s job was to protect them. Still with me? Good, because that’s where the simplicity ends.
Like a tactical RPG, matches play out with each player taking turns to perform actions. Turns grants players 25 seconds to move anywhere and do anything on the map. Whatever you decide to do, every action is recorded and saved as a repeating loop that constantly replays itself every turn. I use my first turn to run down a hallway, enter a room containing the objective, and destroy it. That action will repeat itself in subsequent turns–unless something interferes with it.
It’s Anderson’s turn next. After witnessing my move, he counters by taking a quicker route to the same hallway that my past self will soon arrive in. He lays a proximity mine. When my Hero enters that hallway he’s blown to bits. This means he never gets to destroy the objective as he had before. My previous outcome has been erased from time.
If that sounds complicated it only gets crazier. Now that Anderson’s counter is in play I have two options for my second turn. I can either chase after one of the other objectives instead or try to neutralize his previous action. I choose the latter. I take a different route and locate Anderson’s character in route of setting his proximity mine. I gun him down before he reaches his planned destination. Events have once again been altered.
Since my second loop interfered with Anderson’s first loop, that means MY first loop proceeds unimpeded. My first Hero destroys the objective as before. Loops will continue to stack like this as players try to outwit one another. Once all of the turns are expired, a match that took several minutes to set up plays out in 25 seconds in real-time. Loops collide and interfere with each other–a cool scene to watch unfold–and whoever successfully pulls off their mission wins.
Like chess, Lemnis Gate is a game about planning multiple moves ahead by predicting/manipulating your opponent’s actions. As such, the game lends itself to a variety of strategies. One tactic Anderson regularly used against me was to stand in a doorway or corridor and unload fire. If I were to enter those areas, I’d be met with a barrage of bullets–a smart play for cutting off key areas. However, friendly fire is enabled so you have to keep your own moves in mind too, lest you fall prey to yourself. Anderson once bit the dust by crossing paths with a shotgun blast fired by his own time looped hero. This design also means players are essentially playing alongside multiple versions of themselves as teammates, something Ratloop refers to as “Auto Co-op”.
Up to four players can enjoy Lemnis Gate on a single screen with one controller. There’s no split-screen whatsoever; players simply pass the gamepad between turns. This makes the game extremely accessible since you won’t have to worry about having enough controllers for everyone. Everything looked and played well, an impressive feat given that Lemnis Gate has only been in development for less than a year.
Though I largely sucked at the game (playing against an experienced developer didn’t help either), I had a blast with Lemnis Gate. As a shooter it plays competently, but more than anything I was in awe at the level of strategy at play. Once I got my head around the concept I found myself thinking of new, better tactics I couldn’t wait to try out.
Lemnis Gate is one of those games you have to play yourself to truly appreciate/understand. There’s no release window for now but 2020 would be the earliest launch period with PC and potentially consoles as target platforms. Until then, multiplayer shooters fan looking for a shake-up should definitely keep Lemnis Gate on their radars.
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games