One of the beautiful things about video games at large is that they’ve been evolving for decades. They started out on basic platforms and arcade systems, then the power of these systems evolved, and thus, so did the looks and gameplay potential. The better the system, the more evolved the look. But, while many embrace the power of 3D systems, some are fine with 2D looks, and have even evolved that with HD-2D games like Triangle Strategy, Octopath Traveler and the upcoming Live A Live.
The team behind Triangle Strategy did an interview and noted that while the graphical style is great, it is costly:
“It’s probably worth noting that it costs more than you’d think. In that respect, it’s a good match for the titles want out of Square Enix. There might not be much to gain from other companies copying it.”
That makes sense, this style does indeed work well with RPGs, and thus you’re seeing it (for now) with only games of that genre. But it also should be noted that the games that use them can take it in various directions depending on setting:
“The way it’s expressed differs per title, so the HD-2D flavor will be slightly different every time. With Live A Live for example, the atmosphere in the prehistoric section is going to be different to the sci-fi scenario. Our range of expression has increased thanks to the new ideas we’ve devised.”
Plus, those who have worked on such titles before go and share insight with the newer dev teams so that they can be better equipped to tackle the new project:
“The teams on the former titles released information for the newer teams. If they have information they feel might be useful, we encourage the exchange of information across development companies. If a method of expression was used in an earlier title, there’s no reason it can’t be incorporated into the newer titles.”