Monday, June 14, 2021
Every now and again, you’ll play a game that feels unlike anything that’s come before, and you can’t help but think - how has no one else already done this? That’s the feeling I got when playing Lemnis Gate, the upcoming title from Ratloop Games Canada. The game’s unique blend of first-person shooter gameplay, turn-based tactics, and time-travelling antics, is a bit of inspired game design, and best of all, it works really well. The only problem? It’s a difficult game to get your head around until you play it. Luckily, we’ve been hands-on with Lemnis Gate, and we’re going to do our best to explain why you should be excited for this unique sci-fi shooter when it launches this August.
Here’s the single line pitch that makes Lemnis Gate such an intriguing prospect - it’s a multiplayer turn-based first-person shooter. That sentence almost feels like an oxymoron, pushing together two very disparate genres of game together in a way that shouldn’t work. But work it does, and here’s how. In Lemnis Gate’s basic 1v1 mode, you and your opponent will each take it in turns to assume control of an operator for 25 seconds, attempting to complete an objective on a map, such as capturing an orb and returning it to your base. However, once you’ve completed your 25-second run, that operator’s loop is set in stone - on every future turn, the actions you took on your earlier turn will continue to play out on the map, and by the end of the five-turn game, both you and your opponent will each have five operators running around the map, making their 25-second loops. That is, unless you stop them.
This is where Lemnis Gate’s tactical side comes in. While the loops continue to play out from previous rounds, you can disrupt and change them, to swing the game in your favour. Perhaps on your opponent’s first turn, they ran straight for the objective and returned it to their base. On your turn, you can react to that, and kill that character before they get the objective, stealing it for yourself. That’s the most basic level of strategy Lemnis Gate offers, with each player reacting to their opponent’s last turn - but there are layers and layers of tactics available here, bolstered by the strategy that comes with choosing a character.
That’s because, before your turn starts, you’ll have only a few seconds to pick which character is best suited to your needs. There are seven operators available, each with a different weapon and ability - a little bit like the heroes in Overwatch - and once you’ve used one of the operators, you can’t pick them again for future rounds. Sure, you could use Rush's boost of speed to quickly get you to the objective early in the game, but then you can’t use them later to intercept one of your enemy’s loops before they kill another of your characters. You have to make smart decisions, but with only 25 seconds to choose an operator, and another 25 seconds to play out your actions, it can feel like trying to play chess at hyperspeed.
That’s not even an end to the strategic side of things, though. Everything we’ve spoken about so far has been about reacting - but with five turns to play out, a lot of the fun comes from planning, as well. I can already see some incredible big-brain plays being executed in Lemnis Gate when it launches, and although we only had a limited time with the game, by the end of our session I was already experimenting, trying to predict my foe’s future moves. Laying down shields around the map on my first turn to try and block off avenues that the enemy could use to kill me, placing turrets in strategic locations, throwing grenades in rooms that I thought the other team might have to use later. The possible outcomes for a single game of Lemnis Gate’s multiplayer feel limitless at times, and all of this somehow takes place in a single 25-second loop.
When you’ve finished your final turn, whether you’re watching back some of the dumb decisions you made in previous loops, or seeing your master plan somehow come to fruition multiple turns later, you really come to appreciate the brilliant simplicity at the heart of such a complex game. Its mix of turn-based tactics and first-person shooting just works, and it works really well, even in this early build of the game we played. It’s so rare to play something that feels this unique, and that in itself is exciting - Lemnis Gate is certainly one to keep an eye on later this year.
If you want to get an even better feel for the game, or simply want to see it in action, you can also check out our video preview embedded above. Lemnis Gate launches on 3rd August 2021.