Ahead of the Lemnis Gate Beta period, which runs from July 22nd to July 26th, we got a chance to give Ratloop Games Canada's mind-bending time loop shooter a runaround.
It was a lot of fun, but does it do enough to cement its place in the crowded FPS genre or will it fall by the roadside as a forgettable "Gimmick Shooter"? In the wake of Ubisoft's announcement of Tom Clancy's XDefiant, which is another game joining the crowd, it's hard to say.
First Impressions? Lemnis Gate Is Very Good
If there's one thing Lemnis Gate does well, it's the core FPS shooter gameplay. Each playable Deep-Space Operative has a unique weapon and abilities that keep each conflict fresh.
They might lack the depth an Overwatch hero or Valorant agent has, but they all play well enough that you can overlook this strategical downfall when you consider the entire premise of the title.
Lemnis Gate is being described as a "turn-based combat strategy FPS" on Steam. For lack of a better way to collectivise what Lemnis Gate is, it's a turn-based combat strategy FPS game. That collection of gaming buzzwords might scream complication, but Lemnis Gate itself is actually quite simple once you're playing it.
It draws on the situational analysis and positioning skills of a MOBA, the tactical forethought and game sense of a title like Rainbow Six: Siege, and the objective-based fluid gameplay of something like Overwatch. These are all things FPS players know how to handle, but together they create an entirely new challenge.
Sure, the gunplay in Lemnis Gate is nothing new, but that's what you expect. It isn't fair to compare a game like Lemnis Gate to larger titles from bigger studios - games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, Apex Legends or Valorant - but you can't help it.
As a complete title, Lemnis Gate is good enough to deserve these comparisons, though, which is a testament to what Ratloop Games Canada have achieved.
When you consider how much Lemnis Gate is going to cost and the size of the studio behind it... You have to feel inspired. Ratloop Games Canada has accomplished something brilliant with Lemnis Gate with a fraction of the resources a larger studio would have for an FPS title.
There are still issues, though, as we've said. However, you can afford Lemnis Gate these problems when you look at where it came from. To put it plainly...
It Feels Like It Was Limited By Its Budget
Lemnis Gate's playable Operatives lack meaningful depth and the turn-based structure of gameplay removes any impactful excitement. It is like playing first-person Chess, really.
You have to think about where you're going to move, what objective you're going to push, whether you're going to tackle an enemy Operative on the way... But when you've made your move, you sit back and watch the damage unfold.
You are powerless to protect yourself and this is as much an incredible twist on the FPS genre as it is an incredibly boring way to play a game.
Much like Chess, you have to try and think a few steps ahead of your opponent when you make your move but it all ultimately feels meaningless. Each Operative has a different health pool, yet they all still feel like they are as weak as one another. In this respect, you have to wonder if Ratloop Games Canada are playing it too safe.
Lemnis Gate, as a concept, is truly exceptional and we would argue that it's one of the better games we've played over the last few months. It deserves so much praise for its innovation and adoption of non-FPS gameplay features with such an excellent execution of ideas. However, it still lacks that spark.
We aren't going to bring the graphical fidelity into the debate, given that we played a Beta version of Lemnis Gate. Likewise, we're not going to say "it's only got four maps!" In the grand scheme of things, these things don't matter too much. It's hard to put your finger on what Lemnis Gate is missing, but you can't help but sit there and think something is.
Is XDefiant Proof The Genre Will Never Change?
On the whole, Lemnis Gate is a fun game to play despite its faults. It breathes new life into an incredibly over-saturated genre which is long-overdue a few changes.
The newest Call of Duty title is painfully similar to the one that came before it. Similarly, as good as Battlefield 2042 looks, it's easily comparable to other modern-day shooters. Valorant plays a lot like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive... There's always an easy comparison to make. There isn't a lot of variation when it comes to competitive FPS games, at the moment.
Lemnis Gate is that bit of variation, though. It is a different experience. Even though the gunplay might not match up to an AAA title, and it feels a bit gimmicky at first, you can't help but enjoy its unique take on the genre. We just have to hope the industry sees this as a sign to start driving for change within the FPS genre.
It feels like the first FPS title in a long time that could start to change the way FPS games are made. We don't necessarily mean every game should have a turn-based time loop mechanic, but it's an important example of innovation that works. FPS games need to be made with innovation in mind, not doubling down on what already works.
Perhaps we're putting too much pressure on it as a game, but that just goes to show how solid it is as a title. It has everything it needs to succeed as a game and drive change, but it might have to take a hit as "one of those games" that starts the movement but doesn't live to see the end of it.
Ubisoft's announcement that the next Tom Clancy game is XDefiant (which looks painfully identical to more than a handful of mainstream FPS titles) is proof that the industry isn't going to push innovation in the FPS genre anytime soon, though.
If there is one takeaway from the whole experience, though, it is this. When you finish playing Lemnis Gate, you want to play more. Ratloop Games Canada has put together something special and we just hope it gets the chance to show the world that.
You can find out more about how to play the Lemnis Gate Beta yourself below: