I think it goes without saying that the competitive FPS genre is a densely packed field. For every Halo, you have a Disintegration. For every Splitgate, you have a LawBreakers. For every Overwatch, a Battleborn. In order to make a real impact, you need what in marketing is referred to as a point of differentiation. For Splitgate, the meshing of portal mechanics and Halo-style gameplay lead to a gripping metagame. For Overwatch, the focus on characters and balance served that game very well. Now, a new challenger enters the fray, and its selling point is unlike any other.
Lemnis Gate is the newest game from developer Ratloop Games Canada and publisher Frontier Foundry. While it may look in screenshots like a typical hero shooter, in execution it is anything but. The twist to the game is that battles take place in a time loop and play out in turn-based fashion, with two (or four) players adding heroes into the field to complete an objective (basic stuff such as resource collection, stronghold capture and deathmatch). For each succeeding turn, these characters will play out their actions as designated, but you (or the rival player) can intervene in their actions and quickly change the tide of battle. The end result is among the most unique gameplay loops I’ve had the joy of experiencing in a while, with games playing out as much a battle of wits and foresight as twitch reaction and mechanical expertise.
The heroes in Lemnis Gate are all well-balanced and exciting to play, especially as you begin to experiment with their unique abilities. Take Vendetta, the up-close and personal shotgun type. She has the ability to drop turrets into the field that can neutralize enemies and protect valuable assets and heroes. Rush can use his super-speed to intercept the enemy early on and cut short their plans for map domination. Deathblow can launch destructive one-hit-kills-most rockets at enemies and can take a significant amount of damage. These are just a few of the heroes you get to experiment with in Lemnis Gate, and the remaining cast is also a joy to play with.
Abilities and skins can also be unlocked through in-game progression by completing challenges and earning levels. However, it is the progression that is arguably the biggest issue with the game. Levelling up to Level 2 took 10 matches, and each match can take around 15 minutes. This can make it feel as if you are growing at a snail’s pace, and understates the genuine abilities of a player. Compare to a game such as the forthcoming Halo Infinite, and the issues in progression become all the more apparent. I suspect this may play a part in the game’s currently smaller userbase.
Matchmaking can also be problematic. For 1v1 matches, it works flawlessly, often getting me into the action within a matter of seconds. However, the same cannot be said for the 2v2 matches when playing with random users. The quickest I was able to get into a match was within 2 minutes, and oftentimes I quit after waiting beyond 5 minutes. It can be quite frustrating because 2v2 matches are a special experience that adds an added level of tension and strategy to the game. I’m not entirely sure if this is an issue on the game level or on the playerbase level, but nevertheless it is important to note.
Frustrated by matchmaking? There is some good news. Lemnis Gate also has an offline multiplayer mode. While my time was mostly spent with the online play, I’ll be sure to load this game up with a friend when we can next meet up. It is a really nice touch in a day and age where local multiplayer is becoming a dying breed.
In terms of the general first-person shooter experience, Lemnis Gate feels remarkably solid. Traversal is fast and fun, often borrowing from arena shooters mechanically. Gunplay is sound and exciting. As mentioned before, the game is well-balanced. While the simultaneous mode (where both yourself and your rival enter the loop concurrently) is the best demonstration of these mechanics, it is still important that the underlying game is solid. Lemnis Gate most definitely is.
Moving on to performance and fidelity, Lemnis Gate runs great. On my Series X, it ran at a consistent 60fps. The environment design is also excellent given the game is by a smaller team. While it’s not on par with AAA titles such as say, Halo or Battlefield, it is a decent step above its similarly budgeted peers such as Splitgate in terms of aesthetics. The only issue I did encounter was a glitch wherein the game froze and the visuals became a stream of psychedelic rainbow lights. This happened twice, for a reason I am not sure of. Quitting the game and restarting solved the issue in both cases. This is ultimately a rather major issue and I hope it is resolved soon, as it is frankly the only glitch I did encounter across my several matches.
Finally, in terms of price, Lemnis Gate is very well priced. £15.49 is frankly a bargain given the amount of content in the game itself, including several unique maps, characters and options. Even better, the game is available as part of Xbox Game Pass so it is definitely worth a try if you are on the fence. Really, for a price and barrier to entry this low, it’s hard not to recommend the game.
All in all, Lemnis Gate is a very pleasant surprise. A unique, strategic mind-bending FPS, it is mechanically strong and content-rich. There are still some technical issues that need to be resolved and the progression system is very stingy, but what is here is a hidden gem. Matches are tense, exciting and fun. Please, if you haven’t already, give the game a look on Game Pass or pick it up at the very reasonable price. If you are a fan of arena shooters and strategy games, you really can’t go wrong.
Pick up the Xbox Series X|S optimised Lemnis Gate from the Xbox Store now