It might come as a surprise to hear that I’ve got a real thing for hoity-toity lords-and-ladies nonsense. I’ll freely admit that I sometimes go out in my finest wig and fancy coat to galas, supping on delicacies and…okay, I have no idea what it’d be like to be noble. Like, at all. I think if you’ve ever eaten at a Hardees you’re disqualified from the nobility and, well, I’ve definitely had a Steakburger or two in my day. Fortunately, games like Ambition: A Minuet in Power exist to give me a taste of how the elites live.
Well, really, it offers a taste of how the elites lived in Paris in the 18th century. Spoiler alert: many of them didn’t live especially long at all! We follow Yvette Decaux, whose engagement to a nobleman ends up encountering some issues when he vanishes. Between figuring out what happened to him, going to all the finest parties and trying not to get revolution’d, Decaux’s got a lot on her plate.
She’ll probably also have a lot in her bed, too, since this is one of those visual-novel-ma-gigs that are so popular with the kids these days. Decaux’s got a few different romantic options and is entirely free to mix and match as she pleases. If that sounds kind of iffy with regards to the fact that she was engaged to a guy who just disappeared, well, it’s 18th century Paris and intrigue is the order of the day. Hobnobbing just sometimes leads to things sometimes! It’s fine!
As for how that hobnobbing’s going to go, we follow Decaux as she attends various fancy events and schmoozes her way across Paris. Schmoozing leads to money when you sell people’s dirt to the papers; money leads to better outfits and a finer, more well-staffed household; better stuff proves that you’re not gutter trash, which in turn makes you more respectable and therefore able to wield soft power to manipulate people and events. Carefully balancing your reputation, money, energy (schmoozing and romancing are both exhausting) and the balance of power between Paris’ factions are what Ambition’s all about.
That means attending parties, bringing gifts, chatting up partygoers and absolutely always making sure you’re wearing the right getup for the occasion. Oh, and please try not to wear the same dress too often. Repetition is so dull, dahling. Ambition’s one of those plate-spinning games where you’ve never really got enough of the resources you need to go around. Until you really get a handle on how things go, you’re going to end up too tired to socialize effectively.
That’s a problem – you’ll look bad, fail to attract influential allies and quickly learn how much of a bad idea that is during a period in history when lacking allies is a quick way to an unfortunate end. You’ll also fail to find love with any of the game’s six love interests, and guillotine be damned, that’s why we’re really here! A lot of Ambition’s replayability comes from learning how to find that perfect line between running yourself broke and ragged and failing to make the social moves you need to make.
Ambition benefits quite a bit from great writing that really nails the aforementioned hoity-toity lords-and-ladies sense of intrigue that you came to enjoy. Hide your mouth behind your hand and gasp as someone says something scandalous! Why I never! Likewise, Ambition’s art really nails the period, from characters’ outfits to the city of Paris itself. Historical buffs are going to love it.
Visual novel fans are also going to love it. Ambition: A Minuet in Power spent quite some time in development, but it’s a refined experience as a result. If you’ve ever wanted to be part of the nobility but have had a little too much Hardees to make that happen, Ambition: A Minuet in Power offers the chance you’ve been waiting for. Just try not to upset the revolutionaries too much. History tells us that’s not the best idea.