Project Triangle Strategy was recently announced during the Nintendo Direct in February, and it’s one that immediately caught my attention due to the art style, the studio developing the game and the fact it’s a very early demo that they are inviting feedback on. The following are my first impressions of the Project Triangle Strategy Demo.
Project Triangle Strategy is a new SRPG, which is a tactical role-playing game and got fans of Final Fantasy Tactics very excited indeed. It’s coming from the same studio that brought us Octopath Traveler in 2018 and once again shows off some great 2D pixel art on a layered 3D background. It looks very stylish and if you’re a fan of pixel art and old school SNES games then this one is going to appeal to you.
One of the best features of the announcement at the Nintendo Direct was the fact that a demo was available right now, even though the game isn’t available until 2022. The team want to get early feedback, which means you can play a slice of the game immediately. The demo itself isn’t small either, it’s approximately 4 hours long depending on your battle time.
Given this is a tactical RPG from Square Enix comparisons are going to be drawn with Final Fantasy Tactics, a much-loved iteration of the Final Fantasy series. Project Triangle Strategy is the code name at the moment, which is subject to change, however, having lived with the name for a few weeks now I kind of hope they keep it. It’s been a relatively good period for tactics games over the last few years with Into The Breach from 2018, Wargroove and Fire Emblem Three Houses in 2019 then Gears Tactics and Arthurian Pendragon releasing in 2020.
Project Triangle Strategy has a wide variety to the battle system and there’s a lot in there that tactics fans will want to jump into. You have your standard jobs for pieces like Soldier, Knight, Doctor, Scout and you move the pieces around the grid board. Different pieces have different attacks, some can move further than others. The game implements really well the standard tactics gameplay, but throws in a few features of its own.
First of all there’s backstabbing. At the end of a turn units choose to face in a certain direction and attacks from behind are deadly. If you can shift your pieces to trap the enemy in a pincer movement, with one piece on either side of the enemy then your pieces will attack simultaneously.
As tactics games go Project Triangle Strategy does a good job, the art style is fantastic and the music and audio draw you in. As well as the battles themselves the other engaging part of the game is in between battles. Much like Fire Emblem Three Houses, Project Triangle Strategy gives you a great story to chew on while you’re waiting for the next fight.
There’s a warning by Square Enix that you probably won’t understand the story. You are essentially being thrown into the mid-game, where characters are established and you should be prepared to be a little confused. I didn’t really mind this too much, and fully accepted being thrown into the deep end.
The story in the game is funny, silly, classic medieval storytelling. You play as a prince called Serenoa and near the start of the game you’re stuck in a castle waiting to be attacked from Aesfrost. They are after someone called Roland, a party member of yours, and they say if you hand him over then no one will get hurt. It’s a good way to get the player invested early with a dramatic moment like this and an impactful choice – hand over Roland, or protect him from the oncoming attack.
The interesting gameplay mechanic where you vote on the outcome. Some in your party think you should hand over Roland to keep the peace, some think you should stand and fight. Some don’t know what to do. As Serenoa, you have the opportunity to persuade and influence each member one by one and turn them to your way of thinking.
At the start, there aren’t many dialogue options for you to try and persuade the team, but head off into town and gather some more information by speaking to the townsfolk and you’ll gather clues and other useful bits of info you can take back and use in your armoury to try and persuade the team to your way of thinking. It pays therefore to try and dig up as much info as you can and then take that back to the conversation, as this will give you more ammo to influence.
The added politics in Project Triangle Strategy is a lot of fun, and there’s a lot to it as well. It’s a whole other game mode alongside the tactics game and with both combined this is going to provide a very meaty game that will likely take tens or maybe hundreds of hours to complete.
The thing that caught my eye immediately with the game was the visual style. This is a build on the style from Octopath Traveler, and if you haven’t played that game and like old school RPGs then you should give that one a go while we wait for the final version of Project Triangle Strategy to come out. The game has gorgeous sprite characters that sit on a 3Dish background, something that the studio calls HD 2D. It’s very good and works really well with this type of game – it manages both nostalgia and modern together which is a very tough balance to achieve.
The demo is free to check out and download from the Nintendo Switch eShop. If anything I have mentioned here grabs your attention, or you like tactical RPGs then I’d recommend giving it a download and playing through yourself. It’s a good chunk of the game, albeit a little confusing from a narrative point of view, however, it’ll give you a good dose of tactics if that’s what you’ve been craving.