Wednesday’s Nintendo Direct delivered a lot of gaming news with some surprises and others not so much. The one that caught many people off guard, myself included, was Square Enix’s latest HD-2D game titled Project Triangle Strategy.
For those thinking the title sounds odd, it’s currently a working title. However, it serves to explain the main concept of the game for those looking to dive in. The game features three nations fighting in a war over salt and iron, called the Saltiron War (easily enough). The combat of the game takes place using a tactical strategy style format, hence the name Project Triangle Strategy. The trailer and subsequent gameplay and story explanation threw me into a frenzy. It is currently my most anticipated title of next year, barring a release for Final Fantasy XVI.
While the title will not release until sometime in 2022, Nintendo shocked us with a playable demo available to play now. I quickly downloaded it and dove headfirst into what it provided. Let me say, I absolutely loved what I played and look forward to any future demos and information. Despite my love for the demo, there are some things I hope gets changed or addressed before release. So here are my early thoughts and impressions on the debut demo.
Love: Where the story is going
The demo starts by telling you it picks up later in the game so you can experience the depth of the battles. It also explains that some of the story might not make sense because of this. While I agree some parts of the story had me wondering what came before it, I easily knew the tone would be dark. The political turmoil shines through in the small demo and shows the influence Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics plays. The game explains the peace formed by the three nations following the first Saltiron War and the opening scene depicts the betrayal by one of those nations. I do not want to spoil too much as I encourage you all to play the demo, but it’s safe to assume a lot of death and political drama will unfold.
While the main story plays out, the game gives side story points as well. This helps flesh out the world and gives insight on what takes place elsewhere while the party is entrenched in battle and sequences. They are optional to view, but I felt they gave a good amount of information to where I’d recommend watching them. If this demo gives any indication on how well laid out this story will be, I am ready to be engulfed in the political turmoil for countless hours.
Hate: The voice acting needs work
My criticism for voice acting becomes more severe as I get older. Many will enjoy having voice acting in the game as it’s become commonplace in video games, yet I hope it improves for the final release. Some characters see their lines delivered well. While not always great, Benedict, Hughette, and Gustadolph’s lines sounded natural. Several other characters’ performance felt like a mixed bag. The worst though came from arguably the main character, Serenoa. Nearly every time he spoke, I felt I could tell he was in a recording booth. When lines needed urgency, he fell flat. When it needed emotion, he fell flat. My mind compared him to the monotone voice of my junior high computer teacher. I sincerely hope Square Enix will have these lines recorded again before the final product.
Love: The battles have depth
The reveal of Project Triangle Strategy made a point to touch on the depth of battles. I feel comfortable in saying, it’s not a lie. Players can enjoy the ability to experiment with different combos to pull off massive damage. This includes flanking opponents for follow-up attacks, using terrain to power up moves, and more. While the combos in the demo were limited, it gives enough to show more will come as you progress.
Neutral: Seems to be more influenced by Octopath Traveler than Final Fantasy
This point is more personal than an actual criticism, but I felt is important. If you expect it to include story elements from Final Fantasy, you will be disappointed. To reiterate, the demo contains a small portion of the game but I don’t see any indication otherwise. I wished for more influence from the FF universe as this gives a lot of options on where to take the story. I loved FFT for the battles and the political drama, but that includes the Zodiac Brave story. It felt like a pipe dream to have the game draw parallels to this story, but a man can dream. I’m not really mad about it. Just more so disappointed.
Love: Character variety
While Octopath Traveler gave you eight characters to play with, PTS gives you nine to start and more as you play. They all feature completely different looks and personality. Hughette, who I mentioned earlier, shows loyalty to the crown prince and more stoic in her approach. Anna, on the other hand, claims loyalty to Serenoa and shows no emotion due to her spy background. The game says more characters will be available as you play and I unlocked two more before the demo closed. I love the variety shown so far and cannot wait to see who else is on the horizon.
Neutral: Title screen and menus
This will be short since I feel it comes with the demo releasing so early, even before a set title. I did not enjoy the copy past job from Octopath Traveler. Consider these screen shots. Nothing is inherently wrong with it, but this showed no distinct flavor for style in PTS. I’m giving the game the benefit of the doubt here, but I hope to see more differences upon the final release.
Love: The Scales of Conviction
I’m a sucker for games that give weight to your decisions. PTS claimed this would be true in both story and in Serenoa’s character. The demo appears to show this will be the case. In the demo you will be faced with a decision to protect a certain character or hand them over. In my first time playing, I chose to protect them and we ended up fighting an army in our city. I then played it again, only this time choosing to hand them over. I was met with entirely new cut scenes, side stories, and no immediate battle. I’m thrilled to see such a massive change coming from just one decision. This will give PTS massive replay-ability and can uncover many secrets and possibly new characters to recruit. I only hope this continues over the course of the unknown length.
Project Triangle Strategy delivered on everything I wanted in this anticipated spiritual successor. There are some aspects I hope get refined before release, but the demo seems to show this will deliver on the anticipation set by its announcement.