Review – Convergence: A League of Legends Story

It's a lot of wibbley-wobbley, timey-wimey metroidvania goodness

Overview

Developer Double Stallion Games
Publisher Riot Games
Genre Metroidvania
Platforms Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Steam, Xbox Series X and Series S, Xbox One (reviewed on Steam)
Release Date May 23, 2023

Convergence: A League of Legends Story is part of Riot Forge, an effort by Riot Games to bring the world of League of Legends to focused, stand-alone, single-player games that can more fully explore the world of Runeterra and the characters that inhabit it.

Piltover and Zaun. A tale of two cities. A commentary on the two halves of society. Piltover is the one percent, the “haves,” the lucky ones, a beautiful marvel of a city filled with wealth, power, and technology. Zaun is…well, Zaun is everyone else. The “have-nots.” Everyone not fortunate enough to be born wealthy or extremely ambitious. Zaun is a sprawling, dirty, industrial metropolis upon which Piltover is (literally) built, full of blue-collar workers and of professionals of a more seedy variety. Life in Zaun is hard and often dangerous, but to many, it’s home.

Ekko is a kid inventor living on the streets of Zaun, trying to make his way through life. Convergence: A League of Legends Story is a game that invites the player, as Ekko, to explore Zaun, to meet its denizens, and to consider some heavy-hitting questions about personal growth and decision-making. Because things get weird when you can rewind time.

Content Guide

Convergence is surprisingly family-friendly. The worst offense in the game is light cursing (hell and damn), and I honestly can’t think of any other problem points. The game is combat-heavy, so there is violence, but it’s all very cartoony and abstracted. I didn’t find any sexual, spiritual, or drug/alcohol-related themes in the game.

Story

We all dream of the future, of the person we’ll become one day, and of the adventures we’ll have. If, right now, you could go back in time and talk to your former self ten or fifteen years ago, how do you think former you would react? Would they be proud or disappointed in the person you’ve become? This is the journey Ekko embarks on in Convergence. A future version of Ekko jumps back to the present—by the way, present Ekko, you will one day invent a time machine, surprise!—to stop a catastrophic  future event from happening. For some reason, Future Ekko needs the help of his present self to do this. Say no more, future me, let’s go beat up some bad guys and save the day!

Convergence is a metroidvania that follows Ekko—present Ekko—as he explores various areas of Zaun, beats up a lot of bad guys, and meets some characters that will be familiar to those who have played League of Legends. Along the way, he learns more about his future self and the decisions that lead to him becoming that person.

Gameplay

Things get weird when you can rewind time. The crux of Convergence’s mechanics is that Ekko, as an inventor, creates gadgets that allow him to manipulate time. Whether it be platforming, combat, or story beats, the game lets you rewind the game—within limits—and it’s a weird mechanic to get used to. I kept forgetting it was even an option until a few hours into the game, and by the end of my time with it, I felt like I was just beginning to get comfortable with it. I am, unfortunately, too smooth-brained for Convergence. However, I did have a lot of fun with the game.

The platforming, while sometimes a bit unwieldy and loose, did its job well and had some really challenging puzzle sections. The combat in the game was exceptional, because it forced you to constantly adapt and learn new ways to fight. Every time I got comfortable in a certain fighting style and started spamming it, the game would throw a new type of enemy at me that punished what I was trying to do. It was frustrating at times, but also genius, and I can’t help but respect the design. The other metroidvania aspects of the game were solid and did their job well. In typical metroidvania fashion, you start out with a single jump and a basic attack, picking up new abilities and upgrading existing moves as you progress. By the time the game ends, you’re zipping around the levels with a plethora of movement and combat abilities. The collectibles in Convergence are good fun to grab. Some of them give you resources to upgrade your abilities, some of them provide extra lore and background to what is happening, and some of them unlock cosmetic options to keep Ekko looking fresh.

I have two small gripes with Convergence. The first is that the writers sometimes leaned too heavily on a player base that already understood the world of League of Legends. I think that somebody who had no knowledge of Runeterra or its characters before playing Convergence might be more confused that was necessary. For example, the Piltover/Zaun dynamic is poorly explained in the game, which I feel is fundamental to any media set in either of those places. My second complaint is that the game is a slow burn. I had lackluster impressions after two hours of play, because I couldn’t find any real reasons to care about what was happening and the gameplay was bland. However, Convergence eventually picked up the pace and I found myself liking it much more.

Conclusion

I respect Convergence, because it did what it set out to do, it did it well, and it didn’t oversell itself. It was a solid metroidvania that was fun to play and a great experience as a League of Legends fan. Convergence wasn’t the next paradigm shift in gaming, and it probably won’t make anyone’s Game of the Year list, but it didn’t have those aspirations. It was content to be a good metroidvania, and it achieved those goals with flying colors.

The Bottom Line

 

Convergence knows what it wants to do, and it does it very well.

 

8

Jamie Rice

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