Convergence: A League of Legends Story Review: "a deliberately weighty Metroidvania"
The alleyways and backstreets of Zaun are hideous; a mess of rusting infrastructure, ruined buildings, and spills. This is a place where the concept of polite society goes to die, ruled over by warring drug barons and policed with fear and brutality. Convergence: A League of Legends story captures all of that, but still manages to turn its broken setting into a platforming playground.
Responsible for bringing that playground to life is Ekko. Danger waits around every corner and beneath every precipice, but Convergence's protagonist is a genius inventor who happens to have a few gadgets that let him manipulate time. Mess up a platforming puzzle, and Ekko can rewind himself to safety, zipping backwards along his timeline to a point just before he plunged clumsily to his death.
It's a tool that's endlessly satisfying, even if 50% of its uses are for bailing you out of your own mistakes, a gentle Braid-like reversal that lets you walk back a few clumsy inputs while still making you feel like you're in full control. Invaluable within Convergence's intricate late-game platforming sections, it's a system that truly shines in combat. Ekko is fragile – a few hits is all it takes before you're down for the count – but the ability to rewind means that if you take a couple of clumsy hits, you can jump back and reassess your strategy; if diving into a fight means an enemy can get a hit off, you can stay away until the danger has passed; if a specific jump puts you in the path of a bullet, you can rewind an adjust the trajectory of your jump to get clear of its path.
FAST FACTS: Convergence: A League of Legends Story
Release date: May 23
Platform(s): PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Double Stallion
Publisher: Riot Forge
Even when you're not getting yourself out of trouble, Convergence's combat is an excellent realization of Ekko's League of Legends toolkit. A chunky melee weapon makes for some meaty combos, but you'll rarely get the chance to simply whale on a foe without having to weave around incoming attacks, and it's the other gadgets and abilities that flesh out this Metroidvania-style take on Zaun that lend tactical weights to fights.
In the world, Timewinder is a simple skill that lets Ekko remotely operate switches. In combat, it's a devastating ranged attack that chews through enemies with a satisfying mechanical crunch. Parallel Convergence lets Ekko slow time, holding spinning fans or collapsing platforms in place long enough to pass. In a fight, it's a crucial crowd-control tool too, letting you slow everything in a field to find a path through incoming projectiles, or simply hold enemies in place long enough to do some damage. A blink ability central to many puzzles allows for combo-filled aerial fights against more distant foes.
It's a genuinely excellent adaptation of the character, and it's all underpinned by the rewind power and a very effective two-way HP system. You can't take much of a hit, but towards the end of the game you should be able to rewind more than a dozen times, adding a touch of resource-management to fights. When health was scarce, I'd have to decide whether I wanted to use a rewind charge instead. That was fine in less-punishing sections, but a tricky maneuver could easily cost a handful of charges. In boss fights, where extra resources were even less plentiful, making the correct decision was crucial, and several battles left me running on empty, desperately trying to make the most of every backwards jump to maintain a final sliver of health.
Convergence opts for a slightly more cartoonish version of Zaun than League of Legends itself leans into. Netflix's Arcane may be set in the city, but the series presents a far grittier, more mature story than the one Convergence is trying to tell. Much of the time, that's to its credit – if Zaun is a playground, Ekko is the cocky kid who's trying to have fun within it – but there are times that the narrative loses itself in pursuit of the various League of Legends characters who cameo in this spin-off.
The trepidation around those League of Legends characters means that relatively few of them make an appearance. Convergence is full of nice nods to broader lore, but tends to make more use of its own original characters than those LoL cameos. The result is feuds and alliances with characters that mean a lot to Ekko, but almost nothing to more seasoned fans.. In an attempt to lend those characters extra weight, some of them will show up a number of times. There's just enough character variety to keep the narrative wheels spinning into the later stages of the game, but I'd have liked Convergence to either lean into its fan service more, or delve deeper into the new characters it brought into the spotlight.
Happily, however, Zaun itself is characterful enough to carry even the narrative's least certain moments. By Convergence: A League of Legend Story's final act, the city is a delight to travel around, a place that forces you to chain together skills in a deliberately weighty Metroidvania that reflects the industrial dystopia of its setting. Intricate platforming segues into combat that truly understands how to make the most of its protagonist, resulting in a delightfully authentic spinoff.
Convergence: A League of Legends Story was reviewed on PC, with a code provided by the publisher.