In the course of, qualitatively questionable, direct from Nintendo, one title in particular was able to attract attention, it is a new project that plays the same role as Octopath Traveler: Project Triangle Strategy. If for a good part of the public this production may not be highly attractive, for every player who has waited over the years (decades or decades that are) the heir of Tactics Ogre e Final Fantasy Tactics, Square Enix's new tactical rpg seemed like a daydream. Although still a year - at least - separates us from its actual debut, the developers have made available a substantial playable demo. A clarification is necessary, however, although on a technical and artistic level the proximity to Octopath Traveler is evident (also considering that Tomoya Asano returns as a producer) Acquire is not responsible for development, but Artdink, backed by Netchubiyori Ltd. It is not clear if the Octopath Traveler team is still involved - and to what extent - in the development but it is interesting to note how Artdink has a past closely linked with Ogre Battle: The March of the Black Queen and Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, one of the greatest exponents of the genre. The Narashino company, although not involved in the front line with the development of these titles, has undoubtedly contributed to the success of the same and the experience gained has then led them to work on productions such as the Macross series and Gundam Battle Tactics. In short, it is not necessary to go further to understand why Artdink is now at the lead of such a promising - and at the same time so delicate - project as Project Triangle Strategy. The desire to revive the tactical rpg genre with a look strongly anchored to the past is evident, yet once the demo is started, you immediately notice how the title succeeds in conservative intent without being stale but rather fresh and bright.
Triangle Strategy wants to be a worthy heir of its illustrious predecessors in every single aspect, it is evident, and although it is a dangerous gamble, especially on the artistic front considering that both Tactics Ogre and Final Fantasy Tactics could boast the presence of Akihiko Yoshida, Artdink seems more who determined to win this bet. Equalizing the quality of plot and writing of the aforementioned masterpieces then seems really impossible but even in this sense the commitment is excellent right now. The plot takes note in the lands of Nortelia, a continent divided into three nations linked by a conflict that, net of truces and agreements, seems to be endless. A concise but effective summary informs us of the events that move the gears of history and we are immediately placed at the center of it, with the ability to play Chapters VI and VII, in the role of Serenoa, an important scion of one of the main houses of the kingdom of Glenbrook and a faithful friend of the prince himself. Without going into too much detail and leaving the pleasure of discovering this demo (which is already steeped in crucial moments for the plot of the full game) you immediately notice the tones of a bloody chivalrous poem with fantasy hues, which juggles between political intrigues and war tactics. The complex narrative substrate involves the player not only with the quality of the writing, however, and leads him to reflect and make choices that can change the fate of the story, with obvious consequences on the gameplay, yet another element that brings this title closer to Tactics Ogre. There will be three values on which we will be able to rotate our beliefs and change the outcomes of the world around us: Pragmatism, Morality and Freedom, each of which will address problems and situations with a different perspective and will strongly modify what happens around Serenoa. In the demo it is possible to test this mechanic with a crucial choice linked to one of the supporting actors, who will remain or not in the party at our discretion, leading not only to a change of balance between our ranks but also becomes the beginning of a new path, a narrative crossroads from which there is no turning back. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect a more than generous amount of branches and possible implications for the plot, shaping our story and, at the same time, teasing the factor re-playability of experience. Obviously, building such a dense network of choices and consequences will not be easy and the risk that the team itself remains trapped in its web is present but as far as it is possible to see in the two chapters offered by the demo, the work done is certainly commendable. It is interesting to note how the game expresses the will to be less compartmentalized than its predecessors, offering in the phases closely related to the plot the possibility in some cases to move around the maps about to become a battleground, and discover their peculiarities or try their hand in short missions to unlock points of advantage to be exploited later in combat. For those who want to expand the story, strictly narrative events are available, not unlike the FF IX ETRs, short cut-scenes that broaden our gaze on the events of the game world, able even in specific events to allow new characters to join our ranks. In short, those who appreciate the genre not only for the depth of the combat system and the exquisitely role-playing part but looking for a rich and multifaceted writing can probably breathe a sigh of relief, Project Triangle Strategy already presents itself today with an impressive amount of dialogues and situations, supported by a level of writing of excellent quality.
The world is a chessboard
During the demo it is possible to face three battles (two in the single playthrough but by changing your choice on the question of the prince it is possible to participate in an unprecedented battle) that effectively show a small cross-section of the production. Those who have a minimum of confidence with the genre will immediately find themselves at ease, with a system of very classic tactical rpg but in no way scratched by the sign of time. The classes available immediately allow us to give life to very reasoned fights, satiating our spirit as strategists. A character able to exploit the magic of ice, for example, can create a wall that can obstruct the view of units attacking from a distance, or slow down the onslaught of troops devoted to melee, also putting them in a position to follow a set path, useful for putting them at the mercy of allies or traps on the map. At the same time, there are those who are able to use their abilities to slip behind enemy lines and attack, then - thanks to their peculiarity of performing two actions per turn - hide from view and avoid counterattacks. Positioning is obviously crucial, flanking an enemy offers more generous and precise damage while hitting from behind makes the critical hit safe. Not only that, perhaps with a nod to the Disgaea series - but without obviously transcending into madness - positioning yourself behind an opponent while an ally is in front of you, creates a lethal sandwich that offers a bonus attack to the damage of the victim. In addition, being on higher ground allows our ranged attacks more coverage, as always, but also the use of some special abilities, such as Serenoa's Dive Hawk, capable of causing massive damage when it swoops down on its victims from the high.
No MP system is present, each unit has some "action points" with which to launch their attacks or techniques, with different costs based on their impact on the fate of the clash. A mechanic that on the one hand streamlines and facilitates the expenditure of resources but on the other forces further considerations, since every turn we are offered a point - which is not lost at the end of the action - it is our job to be more or less thrifty in using them, on pain of finding yourself unable to use a certain command at the crucial moment of the battle. Although what we have seen is, presumably, only the tip of the iceberg in the offer of Triangle Strategy, the fights are already very interesting and well built, with an enemy AI that is awake and well trained in combat, able to offer a good level of challenge.
One of the biggest question marks the test puts us is on the class and character management. The small number of skills available for each type of fighter could be merely the result of a product still in progress but at the same time a clue on the management of the game system. There is no statement about it at the moment but given the large amount of supporting actors who seem to be present, and variable according to our decisions, a model along the lines of Suikoden may not be ruled out. We would therefore not find ourselves in front of the beloved (beloved) Job System but a model based on the uniqueness of the classes linked a disproportionately large cast. Given the mold of the game and its "historical legacy" both choices would seem more than legitimate but who knows if there are some surprises related to this aspect that the team does not want to reveal yet.
The legacy of the ogres and lions
Although he is not at the helm of Project Triangle Strategy Yasumi Matsuno, in every moment spent with the demo of the title his name seems to resonate. Being enthusiastic is all too easy, but anyone who is waiting for a successor - spiritual or not - to Denam Pavel or Ramza Beoulve can take a moment to cheer. Project Triangle Strategy presents itself with an excellent business card, which is supported, among other things, by an impeccable technical department for such a production, thanks to a "voxel" graphics capable of maintaining the flavor of the old glories but without appearing backward even for a second. Project Triangle Strategy is probably Nintendo's best direct announcement and an exclusive - temporary? - for the flagship Switch not to be underestimated. It separates us at least a year from its debut and the wait will be sweet and bitter at the same time, all that remains is to continue to closely follow the title and hope that the information does not disappear and the development can proceed as quickly as possible, even net. of the historical period we are going through. It is difficult, if not impossible, to understand why Square Enix took so long to work on a project with this mold, just as it is equally difficult to understand why to create a new brand when they are waiting for a return of the term "Tactics" alongside. that of "Final Fantasy" but this does not matter today, perhaps this new title will become a reference point in a triptych of titles related to the same genre, enriching the binomial that has accompanied us for decades now and becoming the top of a triangle of videogame industry masterpieces .