It’s been fascinating to observe the kind of variety coming out of Riot Forge, as the publisher has worked tirelessly these last couple of years to produce spin-off games based on the lore of its enormously popular League of Legends MOBA. Since the publisher’s inception, we’ve seen a rhythm game, a JRPG, and a top-down action brawler, and now it has moved into the Metroidvania space for its latest release. Convergence: A League of Legends story may not be a very innovative entry in the genre, but what it lacks in unique vision it makes up for in heart and excellent gameplay.
Convergence is set in the steampunk city of Zaun, following the adventures of a brilliant young inventor named Ekko. Ekko is a wisecracking, scrappy teenager who used a fragment of a magical artifact to design a piece of portable technology he calls the Zero Drive, which allows him to go back in time a few seconds and alter the flow of time around him. Ekko typically spends his days hanging out with his gang and using his Z-Drive to help him keep locals safe from being harassed by local gangs, but things take an interesting turn when he’s suddenly confronted by a much older version of himself. Future Ekko tells of some dark events that came to pass in his timeline that culminated in tragedy, prompting him to try running to the past to stop the calamity before it happens. The duo thus team up to fight for a better future, while Young Ekko tries to learn what he can from his older, wiser self.
It’s a surprisingly solid (though somewhat predictable) narrative, buoyed by its likeable main protagonist and his gaggle of supporting friends, and those of you who have never bothered with League will be pleased to know that it’s a fully self-contained story which anybody can connect with. A few other popular League champions—such as Jinx—make an appearance during Ekko’s journey, and these cameos are obviously more impactful for those who understand the lore, but there’s nothing here that feels impenetrable if you aren’t a longtime fan.
Convergence follows traditional Metroidvania design philosophies for its gameplay, presenting you with a sprawling map to explore filled with platforming challenges, cool collectibles, and tough enemy brawls. Convergence falls on the more linear end of the spectrum for a Metroidvania, but what it trades away in player freedom it gains back in excellent plot and gameplay pacing. There’s a thrilling sense of forward movement that never lets up across an eight-ish hour run-through, and each section of the map feels like it gives you just enough extra things to do without risking you getting lost or too sidetracked from your main objective.
The main gimmick here is that most of Ekko’s abilities are rooted in his limited time manipulation powers, which can create some cool and convenient ways of tweaking gameplay. If, say, you missed a jump in a tough platforming section, or misread an enemy animation and ate a punch, you can just activate the rewind ability to turn back the clock a few seconds and give yourself a better outcome the next time around. Or if you’re being rushed by a group of enemies and want a little more space to deal with them, you can just create a localized time field around them to slow their movements.
No upgrade feels like it outright breaks the game, especially given how squishy Ekko is in fights, yet each major upgrade feels like it meaningfully alters both your combat and exploration options. The Timewinder, for example, is a boomerang-like toy you obtain rather early that’s good for both sniping hard-to-reach flying enemies and for activating switches during platforming.
Using collectibles and enemy drops, you can then upgrade Ekko’s kit with an RPG-lite system that encourages you to hone into a playstyle. Ekko can craft gadgets at workbenches dotted throughout the map that will grant him boons like more rewind charges or a magnetizing effect for collecting loot quicker, but he only has enough room to equip a few gadgets at a time. Additionally, you can talk to one of Ekko’s pals in the central hub to pay for permanent upgrades granting useful moves like a parry or a ground slam attack. Aside from the parry, none of these upgrades feel like they substantially alter the gameplay feel, but it can be fun to experiment with different loadouts and these upgrades provide you a consistent incentive to ferret out all the secrets you can from each zone.
Though there’s plenty to do around Zaun, this is where the linear nature of the game design makes itself most evident. The map is broken up into distinct zones, and each zone features a collection of simple puzzles, hidden rooms, and freerunning challenges that all gate collectibles. Bear in mind, however, that backtracking is nearly nonexistent here—we found ourselves either completing or almost completing every zone on our first visit. Not all players will find this to be a negative, but those of you who like to wander and lose yourself in a big Metroidvania map may be a little disappointed to find that Convergence is more akin to a little sandbox than a big playground.
Consequently, the runtime also comes up pretty short. If you don’t distract yourself with a lot of side stuff, you can probably beat this one in five to six hours, and you can just about double that for full completion. Again, not everyone will be scared off by this more approachable runtime, but this certainly isn’t like Hollow Knight where you can still find amazing new content dozens of hours in. And it’s worth reiterating that Convergence makes the most of its limited time—it feels like you’re finding a new upgrade or hitting a new plot beat every five minutes.
As for its visuals, Convergence goes with a hyper-stylized, comic book-esque art style that feels like it perfectly matches the personality of its main character, which is fitting considering that the developers wanted to portray Zaun as Ekko sees it himself. Heavily saturated colors are all over the place here, yet despite the color, Zaun never loses its trademark ‘slummy’ look that gives it that steampunk feel. We also appreciated how the developers took the time to make Zaun feel properly lived in; whether it’s clothes hanging to dry on a grind rail or random NPCs loitering in doorways and alleys, there are plenty of details here that go a long way towards selling this as ‘home’ for our quirky protagonist.
Unfortunately, the one area in which Convergence significantly drops the ball is in its performance. The frame pacing is pretty awful, with the frame rate leaping wildly between the target 30FPS and the sub-20FPS region all the time. We noted many instances where we took damage or missed jumps because a sudden frame hitch threw off the timing, and while this issue is rather conveniently fixed by the rewind ability, it nonetheless feels like performance really holds this one back on the Switch. If you’re interested in this game, and you have another more powerful platform you can play it on, we’d recommend that you buy it there instead. The Switch version is fine if it’s this or nothing, and the rewind feature goes a very long way to mitigating any serious frustration, but performance remains distinctly subpar.
Convergence: A League of Legends Story successfully blends a cool visual style with fun time-bending action to make for a Metroidvania that’s well worth a shot. Though it’s on the short side, Convergence uses this to its advantage to craft a thrillingly well-paced adventure which will likely hook you until its end. That said, it’s important to underline that this Switch port suffers from some noticeable performance issues, even if the rewind mechanic helps remedy mistakes frame drops might cause. All the same, we still enjoyed our time with Convergence and would recommend it to anyone looking for yet another Metroidvania to add to their collection. The genre may feel overstuffed, but this game is a good example of why there’s always room for one more good one.