Why Are Slimes Here?
Dragon Quest is one of my favorite JRPG series and, naturally, I have an affinity for the little slime creatures that are in each game. Slimes are a pretty consistent staple across most JRPG’s, but they’re always fodder to be hacked and slashed apart by warriors and rogues. Ambition of the Slimes, a turn-based strategy game from CIRCLE Entertainment and Flyhigh Works, flips that dichotomy on its head.
Ambition of the Slimes has a very simple story: humans are expanding their settlements, stealing the land that slimes live in and destroying their ecosystem as a result. The slimes are fighting back, and the humans don’t take them seriously — always asking “Why are slimes here?”
On the surface, Ambition of the Slimes may appear to be a shallow, overly-simplified tactics game, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Each slime has the ability to “claim” and control the body of an enemy unit, shifting it onto your side. This means that you get to pick and choose what enemy units you want to take over through careful planning since a slime has to be next to an enemy in order to claim it. Claiming enemies units with your slimes is essential to victory because, just like in every other JRPG slimes are a part of, they’ll get slashed to pieces if they try to fight on their own.
There are a myriad of different types of slimes that will join your party as you progress throughout the campaign. Some slimes can split in half when they’re damaged and others can give friendly units extra for movement. One slime can even warp to any point on the map, effectively giving it the ability to claim almost any unit right from the start. You still have to be careful with this warping slime, though, because a claimed unit’s turn automatically ends right once you take control of it. Claiming a unit that’s already surrounded by a bunch of enemy units will end poorly.
All units, slimes included, have an element that is strong against and weak against other elements: fire tops grass, grass tops water, and water tops fire. You’ll get a modest power boost if you use a water slime to claim a water enemy. Additionally, since the battles take place on an isometric field, you’ll have to take height advantages into account when moving units in for an attack.
All of this makes for one of the most original and challenging turn-based strategy games that I’ve ever played. The tactics go far beyond the standard move and attack; in Ambition of the Slimes, you’ll have to position your slimes in such a way that it lures powerful enemy units into traps where you can take control of them. Not all enemies can be claimed, too. Powerful enemies that have their mouths covered are impervious to being claimed unless you use the sticky slime’s ability to freeze them in their tracks first. If you don’t have a sticky slime, you’ll have to try to take control of a lesser unit that has an elemental advantage over that more powerful, claim-immune enemy.
Ambition of the Slimes isn’t for the faint of heart. The difficulty in its decently-sized campaign starts off reasonably difficult and then ramps up from there. Each stage can be played in Easy, Normal, or Hard mode as well, with the harder difficulties awarding more EXP for your slimes to grow and become more powerful. There are also “challenge” versions of each stage that are even harder. While the game is challenging throughout, Ambition of the Slimes never feels cheap or unfair because its tactics are so creative.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Ambition of the Slimes was provided by CIRCLE Entertainment.