Pity the unassuming slime. With a gelatinous body and a lack of appendages, they’re repeatedly cast as one of role-playing’s meekest villains, serving as fodder for grind-inclined protagonists. But with the release of Ambition of the Slimes on PC, the diminutive globs attain a moment of glory. On the game’s gridded battlefields, a merging of basic abilities and a bit of mental prowess permits the slimes to seize their revenge. For players, that’s means an enticing amount of mental challenge for a very reasonable price, making the title an essential experience for fans of strategy role-playing games.
Ambition begins with a three-stage tutorial that imparts almost all of the essentials. Here, you’ll learn that slimes are delicate creatures when in gooey form, and thus, can be easily defeated by a human. But they can overcome their fragility by moving next to an opponent, sliding down their throat, and possessing their body. When this happens, Ambition of the Slimes produces one of most salient sound effects around, with a series of resistive gulps signaling the takeover. Afterward, the persons eyes glow blood-red, indicating to any nearby humans that their body has become traitorous. Naturally, humans will protect themselves, attacking the possessed with intense, but slightly predictable actions.
But body thievery isn’t always easy. Increasingly, Ambition’s opponents will do things like cover their mouths with armor, making possession difficult. If this happens, you’ll have to paralyze a foe before you can make like one of Alien’s facehugger. Unfortunately, this takes up a turn, leaving you prone to attack. Of course, if you’re able to take control of an armored foe, you’ll likely discover that they’re endowed with a wealth of hit points and can effortlessly cleave through a cluster of adversaries. Like many of Ambition of the Slimes’ components, risk is met with a corresponding amount of reward.
And while there’s usually an apparent tactic for tackling each stage, there’s also a pleasing amount of equifinality. As such, there’s little of the frustration found with puzzlers that extend a single solution for each quandary. Before each match, you can determine what slimes you’ll bring into the arena. While your initial roster is limited to lowly globs without abilities, triumph earns new slimes. Some of these have greater movement ranges, or can teleport across the battlefield. Still others are endowed with capabilities that can do things like speed up allies. Naturally, there’s a tradeoff, and possessing an adversary means you lose your slime’s abilities.
Enemies comes into two main types: melee and ranged-based characters. The former are the game’s heavy hitters, smiting any adjacent adversaries. The latter might not be a leathery, but make up for their reduced hit point pool by being able to strike from a few squares away. Distance is an essential factor since attacked units can counter if an opponent is within striking distance.
Satisfyingly, there are other nuances that affect combat. Ambition doesn’t ignore elevation, giving raised adversaries a statistical benefit. There’s also an elemental triangle, with grass, water, and fire, all having strength and susceptibility. What’s particularly pleasing is that the game plainly articulates statistical difference. Before attacking an adversary, you’ll know if you are have an advantage or disadvantage. Ambition of the Slimes’ sporadic difficulty spikes can induce frustration with stages that unexpectedly ramp up the challenge. The veiled upside is that these levels also extend the length of the game’s succinct campaign, with recurring failures gradually revealing an advantageous approach.
Graphically, Slimes opts for a pixelated, isometric delivery for its playfields. While this endows the game with a bit of indie charm, occasionally it can make characters tough to distinguish, especially when they are near structures. When characters trade blows, the game ups the resolution, revealing a bit more detail through portraits, albeit with constrained animations. Musically, the title uses spirited chiptune melodies to drive the turn-based strategy, which matches the brightly hued visuals.
Given the game’s five-dollar price, Ambition of the Slimes comes highly recommended to fans of strategy role-playing games. While the game’s campaign might be fleeting and its storyline is rather skeletal, the title delivers where it counts, extending at least six hours of tactical, turn-based enjoyment. After years of seeing slimes serve as lower-level villains, it’s gratifying for them to get their comeuppance. Hopefully, their ambition isn’t limited to a single outing.
Ambition of the Slimes was played on PC with
review code provided by the publisher.
Platform: PC, previously on Switch, 3DS
Publisher: Flyhigh Works, Circle Entertainment
Release Date: February 18th, 2018
Price: $4.99 via Steam