If you’ve ever dreamt of hobnobbing with the social elite during the early years of revolution in 18th Paris, well, that’s weirdly specific—but you’re in luck. Ambition: A Minuet in Power is all about intrigue and outmaneuvering your opposition, and there’s even a little romance on the side. You know you deserve wealth and power, but everyone else might not see it that way. If you put your ambitions in the wrong place, you might find yourself at the wrong side of the French Revolution—or changing its course.
Ambition: A Minuet in Power is a visual novel set during the 18th century in Paris. In it you play a socialite dipping her toes into the hazardous waters of high society. You can chose to involve yourself in the politics of the day, or merely use your social influence to amass wealth for yourself. Either way, history is inevitable, and your actions could potentially have deadly consequences based on the friends or enemies you make along the way. There are many factions to play, and you’ll need the proper social currency to ply your social trade.
Most of Ambition’s gameplay consists of conversations where you’ll have one of your stats checked, or spend or gain some sort of currency. Ambition: A Minuet in power has a surprising number of systems to consider while hobnobbing around Paris. There are two statuses: credibility, and peril. These are used as status checks, and also spent or lost if conversations don’t go your way. Every decision you make, including the dress you decide to wear, can have an effect, meaning you have to choose carefully. Unfortunately, Ambition’s short tutorials don’t do enough to introduce these concepts, but you’ll have plenty of time to explore them, as each day in Paris gives you a chance at social interactions either in the city, or during parties. During these events and parties you’ll invariably pick up gossip—the more shocking and fresher it is, the more its worth. Be careful, however, because selling this gossip or using it to influence events can have an effect on your outcome.
If this sounds like a lot to manage, it’s because it is. I was overwhelmed through my first few weeks of gameplay. There are so many dialogue options, new characters, and other statuses to consider that I felt about as lost as if I were to be actually thrust into the aristocratic social scene in 18th century Paris. Mon dieu!
Between parties you’ll have the chance to explore Paris, and even complete objectives for various individuals. You can spend the day at a café, seeing the sights, or selling gossip for money or influence across the two major, and three minor factions—the two major being the Crown and the Revolution. You’ll also have to make sure you buy new dresses, because the more your wear a certain outfit, the worse it looks for you. You have to look good if you’re going to flame the fires of a revolution.
While you’re sowing the seeds of political influence, love is in the air. Despite being promised to someone else, you can start a new romance—and you have plenty of options. Romance plays out like most of the rest of the game does, with certain dialogue checks along the way. Of course, your romance partners will have an effect on your reputation as well.
As far as visual novels go, Ambition: A Minuet in Power is a slow grind. I prefer my visual novels to be somewhat snappier, but with so many status bars to juggle, and statuses to worry about, playing Ambition’s campaign started to feel like a chore. Each day, if you’re not at a party, you choose an activity to partake in—or rest to remove fatigue. And that’s pretty much it. Since there were so many days, and so many social interactions, I stopped paying close attention to the dialogue, and instead to the status effects. Eventually, the charming game of aristocratic intrigue became nothing but a numbers grind to me.
Ambition: A Minuet in Power is a slow dance, as its name implies. While it has a pretty style, and impressive presentation, its gameplay feels a tad mixed. While I was immediately charmed by the setting and characters, the need to balance so many stats with insufficient tutorials drew me away from its setting. And while the concept of slowing building your influence and wealth is a good one, Ambition feels a tad grindy, especially since most interactions feel samey.
Ambition: A Minuet in Power is available tomorrow on PC via Steam.
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