It has been over thirteen years since the last Final Fantasy Tactics game, and 10 years since the highly-praised Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together – two Square Enix games that together helped define the tactical role-playing game genre. For the last decade there has been a lull in the genre from the acclaimed developer. That was until last week’s Nintendo Direct, which included the surprise announcement of the next game in the HD-2D series: Project Triangle Strategy for Nintendo Switch. Though it may have a bland and boring name, the game is anything but.
As an avid fan of the tactical RPG genre and having previously played Octopath Traveller, this announcement piqued my interest, and to my delight an extensive demo was made available on the Switch eShop immediately after the Direct. In this article I’ll be discussing some of the most important features of Triangle Strategy, some interesting aspects of the demo, and what to expect from the full game when it releases in 2022.
Immediately upon booting up the demo, you’re greeted with a sequence that shows off the game’s distinct HD-2D art-style: 2D character sprites combined with high-definition pixel art environments jam-packed with beautiful lighting and particle effects. If you’ve played Octopath Traveler, this game will certainly look familiar. Though don’t be mistaken, this is no follow-up to Octopath, as it is set in a brand new continent, Norzelia, with an entirely new cast of characters. There’s no messing around once you press New Game either, as you’re immediately thrown right into the middle of the story, starting at Chapter 6 of the game.
Plot & Characters:
The player assumes the role of young protagonist Serenoa Wolffort, heir to House Wolffort, who is caught in the midst of a struggle between three warring nations: Glenbrook, Aesfroste, and Hyzante. Each nation has control over a specific resource, and as such they compete for each other’s materials, known as The Saltiron War. Alongside him fight a band of companions, childhood friends, warriors, and his betrothed who hails from the opposing nation of Aesfrost. The story which is spread across two chapters taken from the game, is highly political, and allows the player to view each nation’s perspective during event sequences scattered throughout the world map. The tone of the game feels very similar to that of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, as it feels quite real and gritty as opposed to a whimsical high fantasy setting.
Below are a few of the game’s main characters, represented in character cards that appear when you press X during any line of their dialogue. A nice touch that allows you to keep track of who’s who.
At approximately 3 – 4 hours in length, the demo provides a surprising amount of content and allows an adequate amount of time to get a feel for the gameplay, which is divided into three separate areas: exploration, persuasion, and combat
Exploration: allows the player to walk around a particular area, interacting with NPCs, finding items, entering houses, and gaining more insight into the region. This is integral to the combat phase, as you may discover insightful snippets of knowledge or environmental aspects that aide you during battle.
Persuasion: during the course of the demo you will have to make quite an important decision that affects the gameplay. The characters vote on the “Scales of Conviction” – casting their vote for a particular plan, and your dialogue as the protagonist will influence which side of the scale is tipped. This sequence is highly important, and directly influences the story through the choices you make.
Combat: the most important, strategic aspect of the game. If you’ve played any previous tactical JRPG, you’ll feel right at home with Triangle Strategy’s combat. Characters are assigned a spot in a queue based on their speed, and move a number of tiles followed by an attack with a weapon, an ability, or use of an item. This simple combat becomes increasingly complex when aspects such as terrain, height, and environmental traps and weapons are added into the mix.
Controlling an entire party against a formidable foe is incredibly satisfying, and easily the best aspect of the game. On multiple occasions I had to stop and plan my following moves, particularly during the last mission of the demo, which poses a challenge for new and veteran players alike. The visuals too are fitting to the style of gameplay, as during combat you can rotate the battlefield and observe it from any angle to plan your attack. I found the only drawback to this was some slight framerate drop when the screen was particularly busy. It’s a very attractive game in both handheld and docked mode, and the environments are particularly gorgeous in the HD-2D style.
And finally, what JRPG would be complete without a brilliant soundtrack?
As a follow-up to Octopath Traveler, I expected the return of its composer, Yasunori Nishiki, who created some of the most gorgeous music I’ve heard in a modern JRPG. Sadly this is not the case, but do not despair! Instead the composer this time is Akira Senju, best known for composing many anime soundtracks, notably the critically-acclaimed Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (a personal favourite of mine). There is a certain epic quality to his music, which utilises heavy orchestral pieces filled with blaring brass that feel as if even the music itself is taking you into battle. Impressively there is almost 3 hours of music in the demo alone!
So should you download it?
This is easily one of the best demos available, and an insightful experience into Square Enix’s next foray into the tactical RPG genre. Whether you’re a die-hard Final Fantasy Tactics fan like myself, or even just curious and want to dip into the genre, and would highly recommend downloading this free demo and trying it for yourself. Project Triangle Strategy currently has a release date of 2022, and this demo though only a few hours long, will leave you hungry for more.