Spinoffs of existing games can be tricky. Fans of those worlds will come in with certain expectations while newcomers will want to know what they’ve been missing, and striking the right balance while offering something new often takes finesse and ingenuity. Without those you end up with a Link’s Crossbow training type situation, where confusion beats excitement and no amount of curiosity will carry it.
Thankfully, Riot Forge and Double Stallions are on the right track with Convergence: A League of Legends Story. I was fortunate enough to get an early hands-on experience with the Nintendo Switch version of the game via a dedicated and neon-drenched preview event. Though it’s not the first LoL title to eschew the series’ online multiplayer roots in favor of a solo experience — we’ve had RPGs, and even a rhythm game so far — it’s the first one I’ve been pulled into thanks to its winning combination of genre and aesthetic.
The driving force of those qualities, and Convergence as a whole, is Ekko. Already a popular champion in his own right, Double Stallion has doubled down on what’s made its games eye-catching in the past to bring Zaun to life with the Boy Who Shattered Time at its center. While that applies to things like voiced lines and the game’s plot (which sees the more familiar Ekko interacting with an older, time displaced self), what really sells the experience is the adaption of his League kit to an action platformer.
Being able to Rewind time after missed jumps is nothing new but the presence of turquoise, translucent afterimages following you the whole stage through adds equal parts substance and style. For the sake of the demo I was thrown into the game’s third stage, with no real introduction to Ekko’s skills as presented here, but this was easily the most intuitive of them all. With the press of a button any and all missteps were undone, with only a finite number of charges (I had 10 at this point) serving as a limitation.
Ekko’s Timewinder projectile was present and accounted for as well. After using it more for utility — it was able to wedge itself in sockets to turn lights on as I explored Zaun’s sewers — I found its real worth in combat against tougher enemies. Rather than trying to thwack ‘em with my timebat, landing the Timewander on top of them led to more sustained damage while I kept my focus on movement and positioning. Finding this flow was exceptionally rewarding, particularly once I encountered the stage’s bosses — more on those in a bit.
The weakest link in my arsenal during this session was Parallel Convergence. While there’s a lot of potential with this slow-afflicting AOE field for combat and platforming (the description notes it could slow down projectiles and mechanical objects), I just never felt it as an impactful option throughout the demo. I’d love to see what sort of creative uses it gets in the final build, but for now it felt more like an “oh yeah, I do have that” kind of skill versus an essential and impactful tool.
Fitting that description was Phase Dive. Unlocked halfway through the demo, this teleport dash was the missing piece of the puzzle that pulled things all together. Without it I had to rely on (a fairly minimal) dodge roll and a more timing based parry (accompanied by an oh so satisfying ‘bunt’ sound effect) to get in on enemies. With Phase Dive I was able to dart from target to target so long as I had Zero Drive Energy to spare, which in turn made both Timewinder and Rewind more impactful. A few sections of the demo were based purely on Phase Dive based travel, and it’s those instances that offered the best sense of the game’s potential — or at least my hopes for it.
It’s not all temporal shenanigans though. Ekko’s also got some parkour skills that accentuate the above. Any yellow objects throughout the stage — rails, walls, backgrounds — allow for quicker and flashier traversal. Linking from wall jumps to Phase Dives to wall runs is the kind of free movement I love in games like these, and though there weren’t too many sections that tied all of Ekko’s techniques together like that, the ones that did were both thrilling and eye-catching.
Perhaps my biggest knock against the game was that after gaining the Phase Dive at the demo’s midpoint, there was both a bit of backtracking and no clear indication of where to go on screen. To me, a platformer needs to excel at directing the player to their destination, and while I wouldn’t have wanted an obtrusive UI waypoint I also wasn’t a fan of pausing to consult the map. It was like encountering the dreaded “where do I go now?” moment of a Metroidvania in the middle of an Azure Striker Gunvolt-esque experience. Thankfully it was brief, but I sincerely hope the game goes more in the latter direction.
Of course, this is League of Legends’ world, and what would it be if we only saw one familiar face from Runeterra? While signs around the preview and other sources point to the ever popular Jinx being a part of the game, I instead crossed paths with feral wolfman Warwick as a boss fight. The way it integrated Phase Dive as a means to dodge his slashes was a nice touch, but Timewinder was the real MVP here. Any time Warwick stopped moving was a chance to accumulate a lot of scratch damage so long as my aim and positioning was good, adding another layer to the encounter. If all the fights encourage these kinds of applications of Ekko’s trademark techniques, I’m curious to see who else may cross paths with him in the full game.
So far, Convergence has made a strong impression. Both in terms of visuals and experience, this is one to keep an eye on for platforming fans. So long as stages encourage the kind of free-flowing, skill-melding movement that the high points of the demo brought on, I can see it standing as more than a League of Legends spinoff. Fans of the moba won’t be disappointed by the cameos and boss fights from the source, though from a lore perspective I’m most curious to see how the game potentially embraces areas beyond Zaun while furthering its time bending narrative.
You can experience Convergence: A League of Legends Story for yourself starting May 23rd on Switch, PC, Xbox, and PlayStation. Standard, Deluxe, and Collector’s Editions are all available to pre-order now.
Leave a Comment