Ekko attempts to stop a plot to incite war between Piltover and Zaun in this fun action platformer.
The latest of Riot Games' recent indie game projects, Double Stallion's Convergence: A League of Legends Story is an explosive, high-octane ride through the expansive under city of Zaun. Struggling to control the dangerous Syntixi crystals manufactured by the Poingdestre Chembaron family, Ekko enlists a lot of unlikely allies and comes face to face with some familiar enemies in what ends up being a captivating, fun, and thought-provoking tale.
In order to keep Zaun safe Ekko has to get his hands - or rather sword bat - a little dirty. Convergence's combat is sleek, fast-paced and fully utilises both roaming environments for surprise encounters and specifically designed levels for manic, acrobatic platforming action as you frantically try to beat down gangs of foes. Combos are fluid and dynamic, and Ekko's abilities are fairly easy to grasp, as well as chaining extremely well together to pull off some huge takedowns. Later in the game, however, combat does become a little too easy and a little too repetitive, and it is at this point that the game introduces some enemy types that skip 'challenging' and head straight to 'obnoxious', dealing almost guaranteed damage to your limited health pool.
The game's boss battles, on the other hand, are a surefire highlight. As a fan of League of Legends' extensive lore, it's great to see characters taken out of Summoner's Rift and back into their natural habitats. Seeing how common people in Piltover and Zaun react to these characters and their stories is fascinating, and only enthuses my desire to play them in the rift. Characters' movesets from the game, just as with Ekko, are implemented creatively and the boss battles in general serve as great tools for getting to grips with Ekko's ever-increasing arsenal of gadgets.
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Traversal in Convergence must have robbed Ekko's weapon of its sharpness, because it's a double-edged sword. Overall the game's environments are well designed, with enough platform elements to keep simple travel and exploration interesting. Many of the methods of travel were akin to a 2D Titanfall, and brought with them the same smoothness and enjoyment of connecting skills. That being said, some areas of the game are annoyingly - if not outright poorly - designed. Simple travel in challenging levels often proves to be more difficult than combat, and not nearly as enjoyable. A singular bad move can often see Ekko trapped in a time loop, dying to the environment if he doesn't rewind, but unable to rewind far enough to be safe, which is an extremely frustrating experience and kills the momentum of a level. Furthermore additional areas - once completed - have no easy way to exit, meaning that completionists seeking to go back and collect any hidden chests they may have missed have to traverse all the way to the end of the level in order to return to the main map.
Speaking of collectibles, it's safe to say the order could be structured a little better. Later into the game, players have more likely than not figured out the gadgets and particular playstyle of their Ekko, and so are instead searching for hidden figures and cosmetic rewards, so chasing down chest after chest only to be granted a (borderline useless) gadget component doesn't feel great, but does admittedly make the eventual discovery of collectibles feel more impactful and rewarding.
It might be an odd thing to pick up on, but the sound design is one of many small details in this game that make it so good and feel like a project with some passion behind it. The sounds of Ekko's abilities are dense, mechanical and heavy so as to make casting them in hectic combat situations recognisable, and the sprinkled uses of directional sound throughout the game are lovely touches. In addition, the game has a great soundtrack, with background music being appropriate without being intrusive, and motifs that smoothly transition you from safety to danger and build powerfully.
Convergence's narrative is likely the highlight of the entire experience. With a whole host of new and familiar faces, the game manages to make each character stand out, even if just for a specific function, and gives a real insight into Ekko as a character and not just a kit of abilities. The story of the game is, at times, quite serious, dangerous and dark, but seen through the eyes of Ekko - just like Zaun - it isn't so bad. A perfect blend of drama and comedy makes for some truly funny and truly poignant moments (my favourite being in Chapter Three) and elevates the game from a simple platformer to a truly entertaining experience. With some well-written twists and turns, and a decent exploration of black and white versus grey moral justice systems, it's an extremely fun journey to play through.
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All in all, Convergence: A League of Legends Story is a really solid platformer, and an even better story. There are some minor annoyances throughout, and the game peaks fairly quickly with a slow middle section, but the end payoff certainly makes it worth sitting through in its entirety, as it leaves you with a greater understanding of the world of Piltover and Zaun, and may even leave you challenging your moral compass.
7 / 10
Good sound design. Engaging narrative. Great boss battles.