Earlier this year, Square Enix revealed a new single player turn-based tactical RPG strategy game for the Nintendo Switch, Project Triangle Strategy. This really excited me, as I’ve always loved games like Fire Emblem and the Final Fantasy Tactics series; however, there hasn’t been any recent announcements or updates on progress mentioned of its estimated release in 2022. I played the free demo on the Nintendo Switch, and there was an overwhelming amount of content to dive into within a very short amount of time. Some of this was to be expected, but overall I was disappointed. Now I know this is just a demo and Square Enix has stated they will send out a survey for those who play the demo (similarly to the survey for the Bravely Default demo), but it’s been several months without any updates and I’m getting antsy so I played the demo again and here I am to rant about it!
Project Triangle Strategy Demo
First of all, this game definitely had some similar elements to some of my favorite Final Fantasy Tactics games and that really excited me. The video game producer Tomoya Asano for Project Triangle Strategy has also worked on strategy games such as Octopath Traveler and Bravely Default II. He’s also worked on several Final Fantasy titles, including Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of Lions; for those of you who may not know, War of Lions (2007) is an updated PlayStation Portable version of the original Final Fantasy Tactics (1997) game. Set within the fictional world of Ivalice, the game follows a war between the Kingdom of Ivalice and its neighbor Ordalia, told as a historical document relating the deeds of an extensive cast drawn from both sides of the conflict.
As convoluted as the lore in the demo was, I got some familiar vibes, and so I’m hopeful that the story will be a real treat. I’m also curious to see if familiar elements like summon magic or crystals will get involved. So far, all we’re made aware of is a struggle in the ascension of the throne. Hopefully it doesn’t end up as cliché as it sounds.
Similar to Tactics and Fire Emblem, the world of Project Triangle Strategy also centers around war and conflict, namely between an exiled royal family and evildoer who wishes to take over the throne. There was a lot of lore in the demo. In my opinion, it was fairly overwhelming to be introduced to so many characters and so many side quests and so much lore, and I hope that the game will balance segments of lore and battle in the future. It was very overwhelming to read an hours worth of dialogue, and then be thrown into a short and sweet 20 minute battle, and then be thrown back into hours of dialogue again.
Although, it was fun to see that my decisions played a huge role in what happened next in the story. I wasn’t entirely sure who I was, but you play the point of view from Serenoa, a noble exiled from his country who is fighting to reclaim the throne. To be honest, I wasn’t sure why we were fighting and the urgency just wasn’t really there, but he seemed like a decent enough fellow. In the complete version of the game, I hope they introduce a reason worth fighting for, because I just wasn’t feeling it.
About halfway through the demo, an interesting plot is introduced: save the crown prince, or send him to exile (possibly death), and it’s your job to choose a path for your entire party. You must convince the opposed members of your party to hear your plea. This didn’t seem too difficult, and again I didn’t understand the importance or urgency to not send the prince to his doom. I chose to save the prince, but in retrospect, I wonder what the concluding battle may have been like if I had chosen the opposite. I was also curious if members of the party would leave the team if the player voted against them.
There also seems to be a loyalty/friendship system. This is a mechanism introduced throughout the Fire Emblem games known as “Support Conversations”. By positioning units beside each other when engaging in combat, characters had the potential to earn a relationship with other members in the party. When a max relationship is nurtured and obtained, benefits such as stat attributes could be boosted, and characters can initiate a follow up attack when engaging with the same enemy, and so on.
Making a point to position certain characters next to each other on the battlefield was no easy task, and this made battles fun and even more strategic. Sometimes, you could bring a max amount of eight characters, sometimes as low as five, and choosing which characters to bring really setup the battlefield and odds of victory.
They did say that there would be elements taken from Octopath Traveler, and true to their word, we have a lot of characters each with their individual stories. There were so many characters with so many side quests and an overwhelming amount of lore that it was really difficult to keep up. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy characters with backstories (your girls LOVES lore and character development), but there’s just so much in a short timespan that I never became attached to any one character because I was mentally juggling so many all at once. Hopefully, there will be a gradual introduction to these characters in the complete game so that players can grow fond of each character and their story before a new character is introduced.
Sometimes the old English dialogue seemed over the top and a little hit or miss (I’m looking at you, Benedict). I get that the story is set in a time of Kings and Queens, but the characters seemed too alike without any distinguishing features (besides classes) and it was very difficult to stay engaged. For example, I found myself keeping my healers alive when I ran out of potions because they could heal everyone else on the team, not because I cared about them. Final Fantasy Tactics games and Fire Emblem was exponentially different for me emotionally so much so that I would reset a battle completely, even if I had made it to a final boss, when a character died because I couldn’t handle dealing with the loss of my favorite characters.
It was also a little disappointing to not see any new races. All of the characters in the demo were human, even the enemies, and their voice all sounded the same. It all started to blend together. I didn’t see unique mounts (there were hawks, I guess), and there weren’t any unique classes to control monsters such as Beast Masters, so that was very disappointing too. Hopefully, the directors are planning on building a more diverse world, with characters that don’t act and talk the same. There were two mages on the team, one for ice and the other for fire, and I found myself wondering…how many different spells could one elemental-user have? Can characters change classes? Do characters reach a certain level where you can choose to advance them to a more “mastered” class? I think this game has a lot of potential, but nothing can be said for sure.
The two battles in the demo were a lot of fun! In the second battle, you can utilize traps to light up the enemy reinforcements. Funny enough, I didn’t pay attention to this, and I killed my entire party within the first two rounds—but once I figured out how to use these traps to my advantage, I played around with the different ways to kill of the enemy en masse, namely by using my healer as a decoy which ultimately got her killed, but I definitely appreciated how different approaches could turn the tides of battle so quickly.
The aim is to deliver around 50 hours of gameplay, and after playing the demo, I worry there will be an overwhelming amount of lore and less fighting, which would be a shame. Battles in the Project Triangle Strategy demo were an incredible amount of fun and were also very challenging—being able to manipulate the elements with ice walls and fire was really fun and I wanted to do more of it. Here’s hoping there will be an update soon!