Project Triangle Strategy is a tactical RPG in the HD-2D series of games from Square Enix. The three kingdoms that rule the land have lived in peace for the last thirty years, till now. War erupts once more, and heroes must make difficult choices and survive brutal battlefields if they are to win the day.
Back in 2018, Square Enix released the turn-based RPG Octopath Traveler for the Nintendo Switch. The most striking element of the game was its gorgeous visual style. Dubbed “HD-2D,” this pixel art style in a three-dimensional landscape provided the perfect visuals to deliver a classic RPG story. Now, Square Enix is returning to this visual style for another release on the Nintendo Switch.
As part of its latest Direct presentation, Nintendo showed off footage of the previously unannounced Project Triangle Strategy (working title). While the visual style of this new RPG is instantly familiar to many, the gameplay and the story are both radical departures from Square Enix’s last entry in its HD-2D series.
During its announcement trailer, Square Enix touted a deep narrative for the game filled with player choice, with both storylines and party members determined by how the player resolves key moments in the storyline. And while my demo playthrough cannot completely confirm these claims, it certainly reinforces the possibility that there could be a lot of substance to this aspect of the game.
As the demo opens, the capital of Glenbrook has fallen under attack from one of its neighbors. The player’s first task is to successfully flee the capital with the only remaining free member of the royal family. Once the player gets past an initial battle, the party can escape to a nearby stronghold. With enemy forces closing in, the group must decide whether to fight for the prince or relinquish him to the enemy.
Rather than simply have the player decide yes or no to the question, the entire party will vote to see what action is taken. Before the vote, however, the player has the opportunity to gather additional information and attempt to sway the party to their way of thinking. With multiple dialogue options to choose from and some only available if the player does their research, how to win over the minds of the party is a stressful scenario. What’s more, the game will not tell you ahead if you succeeded. Rather, it forces the player to await the result of the vote to see what will happen. And once the vote is cast, there is no going back.
In Project Triangle Strategy’s demo where this unique system played out, I found it completely enthralling. Not knowing whether I had managed to convince my party members to save the prince was exciting. And the fact that I didn’t have the final say in the matter was an unexpected experience. I’ve never seen a game before where plot decisions were not wholly of my choosing. The fact that I could find myself forced down a path not completely of my making is exciting, especially since the choices you make also determine what party members join you.
Once the vote had been cast, I got the opportunity to recruit a couple of new members for my group. According to the in-game prompts, this was due to the decisions that had been made. This means that in future story decisions, these characters, attracted by the path my group was headed down, will add their voices to future plot points. This could mean that a later plot decision could be swayed by a character I was happy to get before but may be frustrated with if they swing a vote against me later.
At the core of this game is a deep and intricate combat system. Units are deployed to a grided battlefield. In order of initiative, they take turns moving, attacking, and applying various skills. With a plethora of skills at their disposal, each unit brings numerous options to the battlefield. But it’s not just the actions themselves that bring complexity to these battles. But also how characters and powers can interact.
Unit positioning in Project Triangle Strategy is critical. Archer units placed on elevated terrain gain a bonus to their range, and attacking an enemy that is being flanked by one of your units will provoke a follow-up attack by the flanking unit. Many magic attacks will not only hit a targeted square, but adjacent squares will also be hit. And while magic adds to the positioning complexities of the combat, it can also interact with both the terrain and other magic types.
Numerous interactions can come from how magic is implemented on the battlefield. A fire attack can melt a wall of ice that blocks a unit’s advance. Enemies that are in the water can be electrocuted with a lightning spell. There is a lot of potential in how these actions and interactions can shape the battlefield. However, whether or not you will have the option to utilize some of these opportunities will depend on how you guide your party through Project Triangle Strategy’s compelling story.
Between the gorgeous visuals, compelling combat, and intriguing multi pathed storyline, Project Triangle Strategy looks to be an amazing entry in the tactile RPG genre. While how much impact things like narrative branching will have can’t be fully confirmed yet, what this demo shows certainly builds my expectations up, and leaves me eager for the game’s 2022 release.