Lemnis Gate, developed by Ratloop Games Canada and published by Frontier Developments, combines aspects of many genres to make something entirely new. Lemnis Gate is a turn-based tactical multiplayer shooter. It is a game with a lot going on, but it manages to impressively tie it all together successfully to make something wholly unique for the genre. I was lucky enough to sit down and get some early hands-on time with the game, which greatly helped put the game into perspective.
The preview started with a 1v1 game mode on a map built on an asteroid cluster. In the mode, players fight over capturing a majority of grabbable resources by the end of a handful of rounds. To do so, each player has access to an identical stable of characters. Each character has a unique weapon and ability that makes them distinct from their counterparts.
The characters have a lot of variety between them. One character has a sniper rifle that can kill with a single headshot accompanied by an ability that slows down time to make those headshots just a bit easier to hit. Another character wields a shotgun and can build turrets around the map, while a third character can shoot out toxic chemicals that damage other characters slowly over time. Each character fills a particular role in the game’s meta, and it is up to the player to use them to create their own play style.
The catch is that Lemis Gate is played out over turns on the same 25-second time loop. In the first round, one player picks a character to run through the 25-seconds first. For example, in this mode, I picked the character that let me build turrets to place a couple around one of the objectives before grabbing it and returning it to my spawn to capture it.
Then, it is my opponent’s turn. During their turn, a ghost of my turn plays out all of the actions I performed over the course of the 25 seconds. This allows my turrets to cover the objective while also allowing my opponent to kill my character before it even grabs the objective. That way, they can steal the objective themselves or stop my character from setting up turrets completely. Then, in my turn, both of our ghosts play out, but I am no longer able to select a character that I have already used. If my opponent countered my previous turn, I could choose to either go after an entirely new objective on my second turn or to counter their counter of my first character.
This could look something like playing the sniper character to kill my opponent’s first character before they can do anything. Then, knowing that my first character is safe, I can run and grab a second objective and return it. Matches in Lemnis Gate build in this way, causing every action to have rippling effects over the match while also giving the strategy in play many layers to consider before the start of every turn.
To be honest, it all takes a bit to get acclimated to. It happened on a couple of occasions that I would use the last few seconds of my turn to try and prepare defenses that were ultimately useless because they would only appear at the end of subsequent rounds. It also took me a game or two to fully wrap my head around the strategic options available to me each round. However, that was helped by a period in between turns that replays everything currently on the field with an adjustable camera. This lets players fully plan out what to do, complete with dropping a marker that persists into your turn to label where a priority target or piece of equipment will end up.
After completing the first match, I jumped into a 2v2 match that worked more similarly to search and destroy. This map was on a more traditional-looking grassy hill with a smattering of science fiction buildings spread out. The left side of the map had one objective while the right held the other. One team was tasked with destroying the objectives by damaging them enough, while the other was tasked with protecting them.
The first 2v2 match played with members of a team alternating who plays on that team’s turns. This cut down on the amount of time playing, but the rounds are fast enough that it never feels like anyone is waiting too long to play. This is helped further by the added layer of strategizing with a team member. The team strategy element of this mode made it my favorite of the preview by far. Talking through strategies and having a teammate get behind good kills or turns just added another layer of enjoyment on top of it all.
2v2 matches can also be played in a mode that sees both team members playing simultaneously on their team’s turn. This mode has potential, but being unable to communicate with my teammate during this match made it very difficult to strategize and fully engage with the mode. Both of the 2v2 modes absolutely require communication to plan and strategize every turn.
This makes me think that Lemnis Gate will be a fantastic game to play with friends. Matchmaking into 2v2 matches could be made or broken by how willing the community is to voice chat with random teammates, but, of course, that remains to be seen. Luckily, the 1v1 mode is plenty of fun on its own so even playing alone definitely has something new and unique to offer players. Lemnis Gate goes for a lot, but it manages to pull it all together to make a complete package that is comfortable in the unique experience it offers.
Lemnis Gate releases on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S later this year.