Spiritual successor to Octopath Traveller, Project TRIANGLE STRATEGY (working title) was announced at the latest Nintendo Direct as a new IP game that will be released next year. To let players test it out, a demo has been released which covers a short part of the game around chapter 6. Fitting with the trend of these demos, they also made parts harder to encourage players to try different tactics. Either way, let’s find out what it is about and whether it is something to be excited about.
The story surrounds 3 kingdoms that have been warring for years over the distribution of resources, the most recent being named the Salt Iron War that concluded with a peaceful resolution. However, the peace was not long-lived as one country restarts the war, in a Game of Thrones type fashion. This plot unfolds through cutscenes that are rendered ingame, animating the pixel characters in surprisingly smooth ways. Where there is text, the lines are voice acted to varying degrees of ability. Signs of Covid guidelines forcing voice actors to record their lines at home, although with the game so early in development there is time for this to be fixed. Still in a nice touch pressing X during dialogue brings up a character portrait of the current person talking to make it clear. To drive the Medieval and Game Of Thrones theme, the characters all talk in Old English in a way that feels exaggerated but fits with the tone of the game.
However, there is not strictly one way the events play out as choices the player makes throughout the game have a strong influence over the plot. At the heart of these choices revolve 3 themes, Mortality, Liberty, Utility. Where the game informs the player a key choice has been made, by making a scale appear, interestingly the game doesn’t tell you which one you contributed towards. Not only does it influence events directly, but also how others interact with you and if they want to join you inside side events on the main map. These choices appear in an investigation phase, play between battles and cutscenes, but this phase is also used to gather resources and information. The investigation phase is also vital at pivotal points where the main party votes on the next course of action, a direct choice on how the larger events play out. Now the game says the player will generally decide, however at times the player must convince others to their way of thinking. This is done by picking statements, some are only unlocked by discovering the information from talking to others, making the exploration pay off. It will be very interesting to see how many different plots can be formed through a playthrough, giving the game a lot of replayability already.
Battle mechanics are more in line with the Fire Emblem series than Octopath Traveler. Where it is still turn-based it now revolves around commanding a small army. In a twist, it isn’t a case of your army turn, then enemy army turn. Each unit goes depending on their agility stat, with the order listed at the bottom so extra caution is needed as an enemy unit may go before one of your other units. Still more like Fire Emblem, each unit gets XP for attacking and not necessarily for winning the whole battle, encouraging the use of different units. Indeed the rest of the mechanics are what you expect, only instead of MP, you have TP which is token, with each unit gains 1 a turn, which you can use or save up for attacks that need more, melding in the mechanic from Bravely Default II.
Graphics generally have a much smoother feel compared to Octopath Traveller, opting for only the characters having pixel outlooks with the environment having a more textured look. The screen isn’t overwhelming to look at with the amount of pixels and the character models fit in surprisingly well. There is also watercolour portrait art for each character that looks fantastic and again fits in with the overall tone of the game. Although back to the game view, there are some rough edges, with some textures not rendering properly but then it is only a demo so plenty of time for it to be tweaked. It is very much showing great potential.
Overall, it is shaping up to be quite an interesting game. A deep multi-path story with a battle system set to challenge and test even the most strategic players. Over the next year, I’m sure we are going to hear more great things about this game as the development begins to reach the end before the release. I for one am very excited for its release. If you want to find out more for yourself, the demo is available on the Nintendo eShop now.