Lemnis Gate Review

Lemnis Gate Review

If you’ve ever played a simple party game like Connect Four or Monopoly you are probably already familiar with the turn-based genre. One of two (or more) players makes a move, and another player moves to counter that move or advance toward their own goal. Eventually, someone reaches the end of the path or has the most points or there is simply no space to traverse. The most popular version of this formula is Chess, where equally balanced black and white pieces face off in a square arena on an eight-by-eight grid. Each piece has a specific purpose, with the end goal of each player being to eliminate the opposing player’s pieces and force a “checkmate”, where there is no way for the King to escape.

Popular games like Advance Wars and Into The Breach mostly stick to the traditional isometric grid systems, while titles such as Valkyria Chronicles and X-COM explore the three dimensional possibilities of the medium. With Emnis Gate, Canadian developer Ratloop Games takes the turn-based, move-counter-move approach and reimagines it as a first person shooter with time loop mechanics set in colorful arenas across the galaxy, and amazingly, manages to pull it off.

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A drone’s eye view

It works like this: You start with a pool of ten “heroes”. When you join a match– either one versus one or two versus two– you are granted a drone’s-eye-view of the battlefield. This drone can be controlled by the player in three dimensions, allowing them to dip and weave and plan their strategy before the match begins. When you are ready, you select a hero, at which point the game switches to a first person perspective, and you have 25 seconds to do as much damage as possible. When your move is over, you are returned to the drone’s perspective, and your 25 seconds of action are set to repeat on the battlefield endlessly. The clock resets. Now, it is your opponent’s turn to do the same: select a hero, and attempt to thwart your hero or pursue their own objectives within their 25 second timeline. Then the clock resets, and the first player draws another hero. This back-and-forth interaction continues until both sides have no heroes remaining, and the final score is tallied.

Your previous hero’s timelines repeat throughout the match unless they are “interrupted” (killed) by an enemy hero. You can attempt to protect your previous hero and subdue their attacker with your next move, or move on to another target. When you are killed, you are allowed to keep playing as a “ghost” for your remaining seconds, which is recorded to be put into action if you somehow manage to save yourself from being killed in a later move. The arena becomes increasingly crowded with more and more heroes acting out (and interfering with) each other’s timelines, the final result being 25 seconds of pure carnage, as your “pieces” duke it out in a frantic overlapping battle.

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Accompanying myself into battle

If this all sounds complicated, that’s because it is at first. There are eight training scenarios to get new players up to speed, but as is often the case, the best way to learn is to jump into a match, experiment, observe, and learn from failure. There are four main game types: Retrieve, Search & Destroy, Capture and straight up Deathmatch, each requiring a unique approach to achieve victory. Your heroes come in the familiar tropes of competitive first person shooters harkening back to the days of Team Fortress. There is the speedy scout, the heavy weapons guy, the sniper, the engineer, the demolitionist, etc. with some “specialist” units, Karl the robot, who dons a laser and a throwable shield. Each character has a primary weapon and a special ability, such as the construction of a sentry gun, throwable frag grenades or even bullet time. The most intriguing and dangerous hero, for me, is the Toxic Trooper, who can spray pools of acids that harm enemy players, but also your own. Heroes can also be upgraded between games using experience gained from matches through a curious and non-linear skill tree, where each unlock reveals a new costume and the choice of multiple upgrades. These “upgrades” buff certain stats while diminishing others, so choose carefully.

In Lemnis Gate, much frustration comes from a wasted move, either due to poor pathfinding, lack of time, or getting killed before you have a chance to do any good. I am ashamed to say that I have been “that guy” who quit a match early because I saw no prospect for victory. That is until I discovered that one hero and one move can make all the difference, even up to the buzzer, and there is more XP to be gained from seeing it through to the end. So while Lemnis Gate is absolutely a game of skill in how to best utilize the tools at your disposal when interacting with the environment and the enemy, there is a degree of chance to every encounter that keeps things fresh and utterly unpredictable. You might be killed by friendly fire, or accidentally kill one of your own, and even the most storied and accomplished player can be dethroned out of left field by a stray rocket disrupting his timeline and burying him under the domino effect of cause and effect that follows.

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Our heroes.

Even if you are not a fan of competitive multiplayer, or just straight up afraid of it (like me) due to the constant influx of anxiety, Lemnis Gate is worth checking out. The currently player base is consistent enough that finding a match isn’t difficult, especially considering only two players are needed for a game. It’s premise is original and the matches are relatively short, with the game modes varied enough to keep the experience from becoming stale. The short time limit, smallish arenas and semi-permadeath gameplay requires you to not just be a good shot, but quick on your feet and able to manage your actions wisely, regardless of enemy presence. This creates a more stressful and punishing atmosphere than other popular shooters like CS:GO where redemption is just a respawn away. Fortunately, the controls are simple and perfectly responsive. The voice acting and quirky and spot on, giving each hero a memorable personality. The graphics are crisp and the color palette suitably Sci-Fi without feeling overly serious.

8 out of 10

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