Preview | Project Triangle Strategy
Square Enix’s Final Fantasy Tactics is one of my favorite games of all time. While the later games in the series didn’t quite reach my expectations, I’m always interested when Square Enix is working on a new strategy RPG. Project Triangle Strategy just might be that next one for me. Releasing a demo on the Nintendo eShop in February, I had to give it a go to see how it would feel. I must admit, I started writing this back then, but just never got around to finishing it till now. Nevertheless, this is a game that should be on the radars of many strategy fans. While the latest outing from the Octopath Traveler developers might not be everyone’s cup of tea, this demo definitely left me intrigued.
To get things started, the demo drops players right in the thick of things with the narrative. It isn’t worth diving too far into the plot here, as we definitely still have some missing context ourselves. From what we can tell though, the plot consists of broken truces, tested loyalties, war, and much more. A lot of these elements are in Final Fantasy Tactics, so the tone makes me feel right at home here. Of course, the biggest difference here is that your actions can determine the outcome of several of the events. Throughout this story, key decisions will move the plot forward, and it’s up to the player to make the right call.
You play as Serenoa, the young Lord of House Wolffort on a journey to restore peace to the continent Norzelia. He’s joined by several of his friends and followers, including his fiancée Frederica, who just so happens to be the sister of Gustadolph, the main antagonist of our demo. Gustadolph is the Archduke of the northern land of Aesfrost, and after fabricating a lie, he starts a war with the nation of Glenbrook. By no mere coincidence, one of the princes of Glenbrook, Roland, is part of Serenoa’s band of allies. Obviously, this act of war can’t go ignored, and Roland is now a high value target. Players will essentially determine whether they will protect or give up Roland, which is the focus of this demo.
Getting to how the player’s choices can control the outcome of the story, the game does this in a few ways. First of all, players will be able to select optional story segments before advancing the plot. This not only includes additional scenes, but sometimes, it can even grant new units for your army. Second, players will have the option to prepare for battles with interludes that grant optional conversations, often granting rewards. These conversations can also affect the story. Finally, there’s using the Scales of Conviction, where players will have to convince their allies to join their cause by majority rule. This entails gathering information to use for persuasion, and presenting your case to those that oppose your decision. All these options give the story extra depth, taking it a step further than your typical strategy game.
One thing players will instantly notice is the HD-2D visual style from Octopath Traveler, though with a twist. Being a tactical RPG, the game uses an isometric view for the entirety of the game. What’s most impressive is that fact that players can freely move the camera in combat scenarios, which never seems to break the visual style. The 2D pixel elements maintain a fantastic charm to them while the game offers modern effects to spice things up. This includes stylish lighting and particle effects, as well as more realistic shadows and water. While Octopath Traveler did fantastic things with this style, I feel like Project Triangle Strategy evolves it. It helps that Akira Senju’s musical score compliments the setting so perfectly too.
Finally, we get to the combat, which is the real star of the show. Those familiar with strategy RPGs will likely pick things up quickly, as there are many standard elements. Units will move in order based on their speed stats, selecting a space on a tile grid for movement. Interestingly enough, players can actually choose to act before moving, which changes things up a bit. Many strategy games have movement always come first, though like Final Fantasy Tactics, Project Triangle Strategy gives players more options. Attacking enemies from various vantage points will also give an upper hand, including from behind and from higher ground. If you manage to surround a foe, your allies will assist with attacks as well.
Units will accumulate one skill point each turn, which can then be spent on using more powerful commands. These commands can range from melee attacks to magic, and can even include buffs and debuffs. One particular character, Wolffort’s spy, Anna, can actually become invisible to enemies. She can even act twice (though only with one turn of movement). Each unit has their particular class that gives them unique skills and abilities, and part of the strategy is utilizing them to the fullest. During some battles, there will even be special actions that you can take with the environment. This includes setting off traps or even opening pathways to progress. Luckily, as of this time, it seems there isn’t any permadeath to worth about in the game. If you happen to lose a unit in battle, they’ll still be available in the next fight.
While the demo only gives access to two combat scenarios, there’s plenty to experience here to get a full understanding. There’s a lot to love with this small snippet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to improve things. One of the biggest ways to improve the game would be to add an automatic option for progressing through dialogue. From the small tidbit in the demo, the story is fantastic, but there’s a ton of dialogue that you’ll have to press a button repeatedly to get through. It would also be great to have a log to access in case you miss certain details in the dialogue. This almost feels necessary when you’re trying to make those tougher decisions.
It’ll be a while before Project Triangle Strategy launches in 2022, but from what we’ve played so far, it’s incredibly promising. As much as I love games like Fire Emblem and Wargroove, it always felt like something was missing. Something about the tone and themes of Project Triangle Strategy just feels right. It might not actually be a Final Fantasy Tactics successor, but it’s hitting the right notes for me. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the demo yet, we urge you to do so. You likely won’t regret it. According to a recent interview (translated by Nintendo Everything), we’ll hear more about the game sometime later this year. Until then, keep your eyes on GotGame for more updates about the game.