The Eternal Fellowship has been defeated and their city capital is brought to ruin. Gregor, a new recruit, is tasked with discovering who did it… and why. The Ambassador: Fractured Timeless is a topdown twin-stick shooter that instead of having you shooting, has you throwing your weapon and your magic will have it return to you like a boomerang. However, the question is whether that is enough for The Ambassador to stand out amongst the slew of other topdown twin-stick shooters on the Switch.
The Ambassador‘s boomerang-style combat provides a much more conservative approach, with a minimal amount of enemies to ensure that you’re not overrun. Your weapons limit you to one or two shots at a time, making the player approach enemies methodically and at times, with a stealthy approach. That’s the approach I took anyways, with the crossbow’s long range allowing me to take out enemies from afar. The player is also given a secondary magic weapon that lets you break open crates and boxes to find health. The magic weapon has a bar that limits your attacks with it, but it honestly isn’t much stronger than your regular weapons (if at all).
This game’s unique take on the oversaturated twin-stick shooter genre is your ability to momentarily freeze time within a surrounding circle. There is a surprisingly impressive amount of strategy in this, but I often found myself forgetting about its benefits until the later levels. The game could have benefited from more puzzles being based around this feature, but some may disagree.
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With The Ambassador on Switch, it provides a lot of emphasis on HD Rumble, making the game feel more intuitive. Twin-stick shooters can feel hollow and lacklustre without a bit of feedback to work off of, and tinyDino Games must also be aware of this.
World / Level Design
The levels in The Ambassador are much shorter and confined than what you’d expect from most twin-stick shooters. As they aren’t proceedurally-generated, and with the overworld style level select system, the game is made to be played in short bursts as you continue onward. That being said, most of the levels are unmemorable and the player is simply made to feel as though they’re dragged through the motions.
Within each level, I often found the screen to be zoomed in way too much. This wasn’t much of an issue in the beginning levels however as later enemies were stronger and would shoot from greater distances, it made it difficult to strategise in meaningful ways.
Story / Personality
The game’s plot has a consistant theme of despair and overcoming insurmountable odds. With the capital destroyed by an unknown culprit, the Ambassador is tasked with confronting all three possible suspects. There are some twists and turns in the plot, but its pacing has glaring issues that made me feel as though I just didn’t have the energy to care anymore. It has drama, loss and shock value, that’s for sure, but it’s not something that hasn’t been done before.
Graphics / Art Direction
Within the few worlds that you venture through, each has their own theme which ties in well with the game’s overall narrative. To briefly summarise, each world is the kingdom of one of the three suspects which range from medieval, forest and graveyard. The variety works well however as previously mentioned, there are a lot of levels within each world, which makes the player feel as though they are in a single area for too long.
The pixelated art style is also not as crisp as one would like it to be. During long play sessions, I found my eyes beginning to grow heavy and at a glance, it’s not exactly a clean aesthetic, by any means.
Music / Sound Design
Some games can get away with MIDI tracks if done correctly and some cannot. Unfortunately, The Ambassador falls into the latter column, with drum beats sounding artificial whilst lacking impact. The arrangements themselves are catchy and I bopped my head now and then, but it never blew me away.
Final Score: 62%
The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines is nothing special, but a lot of fun can be had with a decent amount of challenge. Its boomerang-style combat provided more calculated approaches that you don’t often see in many topdown twin-stick shooters and for that, I’m grateful. However, its oversights and inability to do much more than make me nod in appreciation is what makes The Ambassador forgettable in the end.
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