Given its nature, the Nintendo Switch has consolidated itself as the go-to platform when it comes to indie JRPG titles. There are dozens of Japanese and non-Japanese RPGs available, both modern and old classics, with different quality levels. You can also find several new projects trying to blend today's standards with the pixelated magic of those role-playing games we all enjoyed a couple of decades ago. For example, Square Enix's Octopath Traveler—not a Nintendo exclusive anymore—successfully debuted in 2018. Now they come for a second strike with Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY, another old-school JRPG but this time, more focused on tactical combat.
Were you not aware of the existence of Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY? Time to read our impressions after playing the demo!
Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY is a working title, so don't get intimidated by it. It just reflects the setting, where three nations are at war... and we know that always tends to work. Opposing good versus evil in binary faction conflicts was the norm back in the day, but a well-developed three-way dispute has everything you need: an extra point of view to add complexity, different levels of power, and uncertainty... after all, alliances are an option now, so politics and diplomacy become even more relevant.
In the continent of Norzelia, there are three nations, each of them dominating a vital resource: Glenbrook is a trading city specialized in agriculture and fishing, Aestrost has large deposits of iron, and Hyzante is the continent's primary source of salt. For that reason, these three nations were constantly at war with each other, but they finally signed a truce. However, the malevolent Gustadolph, Archduke of Norzelia, attacked Glenbrook by surprise. Unfortunately, the demo doesn't show us how it all started, as it puts us right into chapter VI with little context, but that's all we need to know, apparently.
The protagonist of the demo is Serenoa Wolffort, leader of Glenbrook's Wolffort House. He, with the help of his allies, must put an end to Gustadolph's plan... but doing so without casualties won't be possible. All that being said, remember it's just a demo and we're missing some important information from the first five chapters, so maybe Gustadolph has very plausible reasons to invade Glenbrook?
If You Miss Final Fantasy Tactics, You're Going to Love PTS
Now that we know why we're here, it's time to talk about the battle system. If you ever played Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics, then you know what to expect: turn-based combat taking place in grid-like maps where killing everyone in the opposite team might not be your only objective. In our first battle, for example, we had to fight an army—reinforcements included—and also open the gates of the castle so we could get to a boat and escape.
Just like in the previously cited games, initiative and quickly getting to the higher ground could be the key to victory—especially if you have archers or magic users to attack from a distance. If you prefer going for a melee approach, attacking/pushing them against another one of your characters will unleash a follow-up attack, inflicting even more damage. Regardless, flanking your foes will lead to better chances of successfully hitting them. Just remember these rules also apply to your enemies!
I'm Alright with Swords, but I'm Better with Words
While tactic combat is important, this is a narrative-heavy game, and we already mentioned how politics and diplomacy were a thing. Between battles, you can explore the map and talk to all characters to get more information about what's happening, not only for lore reasons. Decision-making plays a big role even in this short demo, so understanding how every character feels can lead to different routes worth exploring.
Sadly, the lack of context hurts this demo as your choices feel awkward and hard to justify. At some point, you have to decide if you save Prince Roland or you sacrifice him... but how can we make a meaningful choice when we barely know the guy? Gameplay-wise, though, it was an enjoyable segment. It's not like you have 2 options on screen and you just select how to proceed; instead, you have to actually convince other people so they act as you want them to... although you never know if your manipulation skills worked until everyone gets to vote.
Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY looks like a very promising game where your fighting abilities are as significant as your conversational skills. It's too early to say if it's going to be a hit, but we're sure that it will at least become a must-buy for all tactical JRPG lovers. For what it's worth, we enjoyed our short time with this demo, and we're eager to learn more about Serenoa and the struggle between these 3 nations.
If you own a Nintendo Switch, go download this free demo and try Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY for yourself!