Lemnis Gate is a stellar time-loop shooter that is more than the sum of its parts.
About two years ago I had a friend tell me about a game called Quantum League. It was a game he had tried out at PAX West that was a competitive shooter with a time loop mechanic. It was a little bit different than Lemnis Gate though, as it didn’t have the depth this new title from Ratloop Games Canada does. Lemnis Gate takes the lately ever-present time loop mechanic and adds in a splash of heroes and strategy to each round.
Each match takes place in a more classic arena than shooters in recent memory. There are two modes here, simultaneous and turn-based. I preferred the turn-based version of the game because it provided an opportunity for a little more strategy and a little less chaos than the simultaneous mode.
Making the most of your time
Each match takes place over two halves. In each half, players have five rounds that last 25 or so seconds for each player where they pick a character and try to accomplish as much of an objective as possible in each round. These can range from destroying energy cores to a capture-the-flag mode with multiple capture objectives on the map. Lemnis Gate manages to have such tight moment-to-moment gameplay that I’m not sure if I’ll ever uninstall it, as it’s a great game to pick up and play at any time, especially with friends.
I do want to point out that playing with friends across different platforms isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do. You create a password for the lobby, share it with your friend who types in that password, and then wait for the game to queue up together. That part isn’t too bad, but Lemnis Gate never gave us the option to play against others. So if we wanted to queue up for a 2v2, we weren’t able to ever (I was on PC, he was on Series X). It’s something I would like to see added in the future.
After dropping into a match, you’re immediately placed in either control of a drone or picking your starting character. Each character can only be used once per half. Picking the right one for each round is crucial. Players alternate turns to complete objectives. Sometimes both rounds will have players going for objectives while taking out enemies, and others will have you on objective defense.
Run it back
After you’ve finished a round, you’ll end up back in a drone overlooking the battlefield. These moments let you scope out what your opponent is doing through a bird’s eye view and let you plan your next round. It’s a pretty good give and take between each round. The chaos by the end of round five can often mean you don’t quite know who’s going to win.
It isn’t just what you do during an individual run that matters though, and it’s important to remember the actions you’ve already taken. Pretty often I found myself blown up by a rocket I had fired in an earlier run or standing in a pool of acid I forgot was about to come my way. These things make watching the battlefield with the drone even more important. A round-five enemy can ruin an entire run if they’re in the right place and take out your round-two player. So vigilance and strategy on which run to prioritize when dropping in for the last couple rounds are crucial.
Death is not defeat
Luckily, even if your character dies at some point during a round, you still get the opportunity to run around the map and shoot at things or use abilities. Just because your character died during a run doesn’t mean it won’t be able to live in the future if you’re able to defeat whatever caused your death before it gets the opportunity to kill you.
The whole package is pretty satisfying as the push and pull of each match comes to a head. There are few shooters that convey the sense of reward and strategy that Lemnis Gate does. It isn’t perfect; some hit boxes are a mess and the rocket launcher splash damage doesn’t seem high enough, but with a few balancing tweaks there’s a gem here.
Lemnis Gate will scratch the itch for a tighter, more enclosed arena shooter, even if it isn’t something I can sit and play for hours and hours. It’s the perfect game to play for an hour or two and then move on to something else for the night, but one I think most shooter fans will find themselves coming back to.
Game Freaks 365 received a review copy.