Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), 3DS, iOS
Developer: Flyhigh Works
Publisher: Flyhigh Works / CIRCLE
Release: 18th January 2018
Every RPG has these moments, when the hero just starts out on his journey, being merely over level 0 and the grind of experience begins. Typically the most dangerous enemies he´ll face will be rats or, well, slimes but what if even the enemies are annoyed by the sheer overuse of them? This exact question is thematised by Ambition of the Slimes, a terrifyingly interesting game.
As the price of 5 bucks suggests, Ambition of the Slimes is pretty straightforward, offering a wide range of levels, a tactical turn-based combat system and no story except a brief introduction. The game follows an ever-growing group of slimes on their journey to conquer the human world, enslaving them by slipping in their body to gain the strength they so desperately need.
Quite literal, it´s all about sending slimes in humans through their mouths, gaining complete control over them. Where one sole slime may be weak, he might just survive when he´s in a farmer or archer, especially when they profit from their various bonuses.
So every level starts out on a square three-dimensional battleground with slimes on one and humans on the other side with the goal to eliminate every single non-slimy life form. Since most of the time the number of humans will overweight the slimes, the necessity for tactical thinking becomes obvious in no time. Actually, Ambition of the Slimes, as cute as it may look, is a very challenging game, due to the sheer power problem between those two sides, in particular when archers or knights are faced by such powerful foes like the green slime.
Naturally, there´s more to it than just taking control over the enemies. Accompanying this unique concept are mainly two essential parts that need to be mastered before even hoping to finish Ambition of the Slimes. On the one hand are the different abilities every slime has, ranging from active to passive ones. A brown slime, for example, can create a sticky ground to catch a knight, a heavily protected human, making him vulnerable to otherwise unsuccessful capturing attempts. Yet there are also ones that lack any kind of special active skill but can divide themselves if they take damage and much more.
The variety is huge and every ability really serves a purpose and together with the elements each character has, this little pixel tactics game gains a huge depth. Everyone has an assigned element, fire, water etc, but not to indicate weaknesses but rather compatibility. Capturing a human with the corresponding element slime gives both a huge stat boost.
For better or worse the game pretty much forces these mechanics down your throat, meaning, it´s so hard you have no other choice than learning them. Even the tutorial missions banish every single mistake. Later on, its unforgiving nature becomes even more prominent when even a wrong turn can lead to an almost instant death of most your slimes, making the second half a more frustratingly slow than challenging experience. If the game wants you to possess a certain human, you won´t be able to win without doing so.
Ambition of the Slimes’ clunky controls contributes to the overall slow pacing with their clunkiness. While moving or selecting units may work alright, even though touchscreen support would´ve been nice, the change between control methods in in-game menus is a thing that really drove me mad.
Movement happens over the D-pad, selecting skills over the joystick but at certain points or skills the controls just flip around and the D-pad navigates through menus. It´s strange, it´s annoying and takes a lot of time to adjust to. Otherwise, I really like the minimalistic pixel art of it, creating a wonderfully cute but evil spirited game.
Ambition of the Slimes definitely has some unique ideas, who doesn´t want to control his enemies my slipping in their throat? Unfortunately most of the time it suffers under its frustratingly hard difficulty and overload of mechanics. Still, if you can look behind the clunky controls and challenge, there´s a very interesting little tactics game here.
[A Review Code was provided by Flyhigh Works]