For many, 2021’s Arcane was the first true introduction to the careful worldbuilding of Riot’s League of Legends franchise. As people yearn for more ways to explore Runeterra, Riot has worked hard to satiate that need, providing new single-player adventures that extend well beyond its signature MOBA.
Convergence: A League of Legends Story (stylized as CONV/RGENCE) is the latest example of this. Riot Forge and developer Double Stallion Games have partnered to deliver an enjoyable 2D action platformer with traces of Metroidvania DNA. On top of stellar gameplay, Convergence also delivers a memorable story that builds on an established cast of characters.
The Boy Who Shattered Time
Convergence: A League of Legends Story stars the Zaun prodigy Ekko (voiced again by Arcane’s Reed Shannon) and his Z-Drive, a tool that allows him to rewind time. This ability helps players “reset” Ekko during the game’s platforming challenges, as well as in combat when you’ve missed a parry opportunity.
While just as brilliant, this is not the same orphaned Ekko from Arcane. Riot’s multiverse is a rich and interconnected one. Convergence’s Ekko is very much living familial, and his personal ties to Zaun drive much of the game’s story, charm, and heart. Ekko’s parents and friends, including Red, Lem, and Rungs, keep the game’s story grounded. Appearances by League of Legends favorites Warwick, Camille, and Jinx remind players of the larger world just beyond the 2D map. Zaun’s cast members always have something to say, a response to Ekko’s concerns, and a few collectible requests.
Ekko’s acquisition of gadgets, abilities, and skills is well-paced and often carries narrative significance. None of the skills or abilities depend on performing elaborate combos, but the game does reward mastering certain button combinations during combat and platforming sequences. Cosmetics-wise, players can customize Ekko with different “Chromas”(i.e., outfits) and “Z-Trails” (i.e., color trails) that hark back to certain characters, groups, or moments throughout Ekko’s adventure.
The 2D action gameplay is quick and, at times, demanding. I smiled as my experience brought back memories of playing Mega Man Zero on the Game Boy Advance. Not only did I revel in navigating combat encounters, but I also found myself regularly rewinding to maintain health or better position Ekko for attack opportunities. Ekko’s other time-bending abilities from League of Legends, including chronobreak, phase dive, and parallel convergence, have been reimagined and allow for more varied combat scenarios and experimentation.
A Playful 2D Zaun
Convergence: A League of Legends Story is first and foremost an enjoyable 2D action platformer. The game’s eight chapters take place across six levels and the larger hub-world Entresol. Entresol, like any good Metroidvania map, becomes ever more accessible the further your abilities progress. In reality, the hub-world masquerades as more open than it is, while its closed levels often appear more Metroid-esque than they actually are.
Convergence is ultimately a linear experience. Levels can be revisited by going to the same entry points in the hub world, but each of the six levels can be completed the first time through. And even when re-entered, Ekko must follow the same path—with the same combat encounters and platforming puzzles as before—despite having access to new tools. (All told, the main story can be completed in about eight to 10 hours.)
This linearity is a wonderful time saver but negates any real sense of exploration. I was left wondering: What could these earlier maps look like if they were crafted with later tools in mind? In what ways could Ekko’s time powers have further broken down the linearity of these levels?
This doesn’t take away from the core experience. Convergence is a solid linear story with some already creative level design. The levels are smartly crafted to keep Ekko in motion. The art style of each level is engaging. Learning new abilities to navigate upcoming platforming challenges is fun and rewards the player with collectibles and parts that can be traded for gadgets or “cogs” (the game’s currency).
Ekko will even sometimes comment on the platforming dangers of what is narratively presented as places people go to work daily. These quick notes on ludonarrative dissonance—where game narrative and gameplay narrative clash—are intelligent nods to Ekko’s genius, as well as to the smart writing team at Double Stallion.
Throughout Convergence: A League of Legends Story, Ekko confidently dashes and grinds through time and space. This confidence is well-earned by both the character and the developer. Ekko is a well-written character whose inventions and “timey-wimey” powers progress both the player and the narrative.
While there is room for Riot’s single-player entries to continue improving, I leave Convergence enthusiastic to see what corners of Runeterra (and its multiple timelines) we’ll explore next.