It’s good to be the bad guy in this turn-based strategy adventure about overcoming your station.
Most of us know Slimes as those weak, pathetic creatures that are meant as fodder for would-be adventurers. They tend to be easily dispatched early in a game without a whole lot of difficulty in the name of level progression. Unbeknownst until now, Slimes have had a hidden trump card all along, one that allows them to turn the tables on their past oppressors. The developers over at Flyhigh Works have done a wonderful job of adding depth and intrigue to a normally boring character in their latest release, Ambition of the Slimes. Don’t be fooled by the generic-looking, Minecraft-styled graphics because after a few rounds of battle, A greater complexity is unearthed, rife for exploring and enjoyment.
Ambition of the Slimes follows the story of a group of Slimes that have discovered they have the ability to possess their enemies by jumping down their throats. Armed with this newfound power, the Slimes decide to conquer all the lands through turn-based combat and recruiting new brethren to their cause. Progression is broken up over a number of battles in various locations. Each battle takes place on a square grid, similar to a chess board, with the slimes at one end and their foes at the other. Each battle has a unique arena that is designed using various terrain options and elevations. One arena may have a stream run through it that divides the playing field, while another may have buildings that can be used to your advantage. Careful consideration of your surroundings is needed in each battle as there is always an environmental advantage that either needs to be guarded against or exploited.
After successful completion of a battle, a new Slime can join your party with a list of attributes and special abilities. Early on, you could end up with multiple versions of the same Slime, but as you progress further the abilities available become much more unique. Some might have the ability to melt away armor blocking an enemy’s mouth, while others have the ability to teleport next to their opponent. Enemies also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes as well: Miners, Archers, Knights, Mages, etc. Selecting the enemy to possess is a crucial part of the strategy. Swordsman and Knights have high HP and attack but must be next to an enemy in order to attack. Archers can attack from distances and heights but are weak in hand-to-hand combat.
It’s the variety that makes the combat so satisfying. Prior to a match, you select a set number of Slimes from your current party to head into battle. That selection could vary greatly depending on the strategy you employ based on the enemies you’ll need to defeat and the layout of the field the battle takes place. No single strategy can be employed universally for victory, as each battle is its own unique puzzle that needs to be examined and solved. And no single solution exists to win a battle either. In certain situations, you may want to try to capture the sword wielders to utilize their brute strength. In the same level, capturing archers could provide a more strategic route to victory.
As terrific and satisfying the strategy-based combat is, a few lingering issues can get under your skin. The camera controls can be a headache to wrangle to get a good view of the arenas. In one particular locale, tall buildings fairly close together provide an opportunity to use the cover to your advantage. However when the characters start to move in between the buildings it can be a juggling act of trying to find the right angle to see your character and where you want them to go.
The soundtrack is disappointing as well. The music reflects the retro aesthetics, which in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the tracks are very repetitive. Minimal other sound effects help amplify the problem. The most glaring issue for me was the representation of women. When an attack is initiated, a screen appears with a more detailed pixel art image of the two battling characters. The images for the female characters are hyper sexualized for seemingly no apparent reason. This is exacerbated further when the male swordsman, who is in full armor, fights the female swordswoman who is wearing a bikini so small it would make the producers of Baywatch blush.
Looking past the aesthetic issues, Ambition of the Slimes provides a unique and fresh experience for strategy combat enthusiasts. Elements I thought would feel redundant actually added to the layers of complexity that made the game all that more interesting. One word of caution, if you have a particularly sensitive gag reflex you may want to close your eyes and cover your ears that first time your Slime finds its way into the throat of its opponent.