Project Triangle Strategy (Working Title)
Developed By: Square-Enix
Published By: Nintendo
Category: Strategy, Role-Playing
Release Date: Full Game TBA, Free Demo Available Now
Composers: Akira Senju
Everyone loves a Nintendo Direct. I love seeing updates on upcoming Nintendo releases and the announcements on which games are going to finally find their way to the Switch. Most of all, though, I love the feeling I get when they hit me with something amazing that I never saw coming. This time around, like a lot of RPG fans, the highlight of the presentation was the announcement of the next entry in Square-Enix’s HD-2D library, Project Triangle Strategy. It’s the spiritual (and visual) successor to one of my favorite Switch games so far and previous Nintendo Direct surprise reveal, Octopath Traveler. A short demo for the game was released, and today we’ll take a quick look at what we’ve got so far.
First off, those visuals! PTS looks every bit as fantastic as Octopath Traveler does. I remain surprised more games aren’t trying to copy the HD-2D style, as it’s simply the perfect mix of retro style and modern framerates and resolutions. I’ll never get over how awesome it looks in action. The audio design is similarly amazing, with fully voice-acted cutscenes and an adventurous, intrepid soundtrack that captures the epic feel of everything happening on the screen.
Unrest in Norzelia
We don’t get a full feel for the story, just some general background on the game’s world. The three major nations of the continent of Norzelia have enjoyed an uneasy peace for several decades, but the ambitious – and seemingly duplicitous – Duke of Aesfrost seeks to change all that by invading the neighboring country of Glenbrook under false pretenses. The demo picks up a little way into the game – chapter 6, to be precise – so we only get a small glimpse of the bigger picture, but I’m extremely interested in what I’ve seen so far. The political intrigues have definite shades of Final Fantasy Tactics to them, and I’m interested in how the game’s branching storylines will affect the way characters develop.
The Perils of Democracy
I was also intrigued by the mechanisms through which those branches are decided. I like that speaking to your followers can change their opinion of you and sway their thinking on the way forward. Done well, it will make for a fascinating, player-driven narrative experience. I’m also curious to see how the Scales of Conviction mechanic plays out over the course of the full game. In theory and in practice in the demo, it’s an incredibly cool way to simulate politics and debate. In the full game, however, I’m somewhat worried that it may force me down a path I don’t want to take at some point. It appears to be at least slightly dependent on random chance, which could potentially undermine the inherent appeal and power of a player-driven narrative.
Control the Battlefield
The combat mechanics are fairly standard for the first of the game’s two scenarios. The basics of moving units and attacking are the same as most any strategy RPG you care to name. It introduces a few cool ideas for controlling the conditions of the battlefield, such as the ability to summon barriers to allow players to control the movement of enemy units to a degree. Funneling enemy troops into the teeth of your attack is a potent strategy for overcoming the enemies’ superior numbers and protecting your weaker units, and I look forward to exploring this more fully in the full game.
The second battle (of the route I chose, anyway) introduces even more variety to your tactical options by adding new characteristics to the battlefield itself. For instance, one character can summon a small ice wall that melts after a few turns. However, it leaves behind standing water on the tiles where the wall used to be. Another character can cast a lightning bolt; the bolt will disperse and damage any enemy standing in adjacent submerged tiles. So, using melted ice walls you can create a field of water that increases the damage range of the lightning bolt to more enemies than some spells with larger inherent target areas. I can’t wait to see what other kinds of terrain elements can be manipulated in this way in the full game.
That Name, Though…
The demo gave me just enough to get my hype as hell for the full release, for which we have no expected launch date. That’s probably the most disappointing part of the whole announcement – aside from the name, I guess. “Project Triangle Strategy” is fine as a working title, but we need something a little sexier for a final name. I think Scales of Conviction is actually a great name for the game, but I’m not a marketing person so who knows. I just want to play the damn thing!