Just like Quantum League that preceded it just a year before, Lemnis Gate is a tactical shooter that sees you take on your opponents through a series of timeloops. It requires you to think both quickly and tactically, as you are only given 25 seconds during each round to try and complete objectives and foil the plans of your opponents. Ahead of this year's E3, I was able to spend roughly an hour with the game to see whether it's worth jumping into when it eventually launches on PC and consoles this August.
During the hands-on demo, I played two different missions across three different match types (1v1 turn based, 2v2 turn based, and 2v2 teammates play together). The first mission I played was called Seek & Destroy and this was centered around destroying resistors on the map with both teams taking it in turns to attack and defend. Here a team would win a round if they were able to destroy at least one of the two resistors at the end of the six time loops. This mode I found challenging as you always have to think one step ahead. If you are on the defending team, for example, you need to prevent previous loops from destroying the resistors, but you also don't want to leave yourself in a position where you're taken out next round.
The other mode was called Retrieve XM (catchy name, I know). Here you need to collect small ball-shaped objects known as XM (exotic matter) and deposit them within your team's gate to gain a point. Just like the previous mode, this one required a lot of strategic thinking and you can't just bank on a win just by focusing on the core objective. Here you need to be mindful of which XM has already been grabbed, as they can only be picked up once and you need to be wary of your opponent trying to erase your previous progress.
Instead of the game just showing you your opponent's action like many shooters do whilst you are waiting to respawn, it actually gives control of a drone so that you can patrol around the battle arena and focus in on specific player's time loops. Soaring through the sky with the drone I actually found to be a lot of fun, and it solved the issue that a lot of turn-based games have where you are just sitting there waiting for your turn to start. This part of the match is really the planning phase too, as you'll need to closely monitor the action of your rivals and devise a plan of action, as you are only given 25 precious seconds when playing.
At the start of your turn you also need to carefully select between seven different classes of characters. Each of these have their own individual weapons and special abilities and there's no sticking to a favourite, as you can only use a character once during each round. Rush and Toxin I found to be my go-to characters during the hands-on session. Rush can rapidly take out enemies with his dual pistols and his dash ability is perfect for shaving off this extra few seconds. Toxin on the other hand has the handy ability of laying down toxic waste on the ground that can harm enemies that are rushing around and not paying close attention. What I really liked is that each of these characters felt distinctive and had their own uses, so it was always a really tough call to decide just who I wanted to bring out next.
The only real criticism I have with Lemnis Gate is in regards to its unimaginative map design. I was able to sample two maps and these were Tectonic Wells, which had a desert canyon setting, and Howlers Mine, which took place within the woods. Both of these maps felt pretty bland from a design perspective and I struggled to recall them without looking back at my playthrough footage. There might not be anything to catch the eye in terms of design, but from a gameplay perspective, they both feel distinguished from each other with Tectonic Wells having a grander sense of verticality and Howlers Mine simply being a flat plain.
Just like many other strictly online games, I also fear for Lemnis Gate's longevity. With its time-based mechanics being pretty in-depth and requiring tactical thinking, it falls into quite a niche category and it of course needs a steady influx of players to be able to stay afloat. Looking at the demo too, I couldn't see any modes that were purely offline and against bots besides the training, but this could have been due to the fact it isn't a finished build. The game is coming day one to Xbox Game Pass though and it does support cross-play, so it should see some strong numbers at least in its first couple of months.
Lemnis Gate appears to be an intelligently designed tactical shooter that offers players countless ways of manipulating time and gaining the upper hand on their opponents. I really enjoyed how distinctive each of its seven character classes felt and studying my opponents moves and devising a plan of attack was always entertaining. That said, I did find the level design to be pretty bland and I am concerned whether it can attract a sizable player base due its niche nature. Be sure to check back for our full thoughts when Lemnis Gate launches on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series on August 3, 2021.