Triangle Strategy – Review
Follow Genre: RPG, turn-based strategy game
Developer: Artdink
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: Switch
Tested on: Switch

Triangle Strategy – Review

Site Score
9.2
Good: A masterfully crafted narrative intrinsically tied to the gameplay
Bad: Voice acting quality isn't consistent
User Score
10.0
(1 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

We’ve been eagerly anticipating Triangle Strategy ever since it was first announced in February of 2021. The game shares more than a few similarities with Octopath Traveler, employing the same aesthetics and even following a similar release schedule. Directly after the announcement, a preview demo was made available and the game was adjusted based on player feedback, before the actual demo dropped, with progress carrying over into the full game. A year after that preview demo, we’re now finally able to play the full version of Triangle Strategy. Was it worth the wait?

Story

Set in the fantasy world of Norzelia, Triangle Strategy introduces us to protagonist Serenoa, and his betrothed Frederica. This pair of characters forms the foundation upon which Triangle Strategy’s story is built. Decades prior to the events that are about to unfold, the three kingdoms of Hyzante, Glenbrook and Aesfrost waged war against one another over Norzelia’s natural resources, in what would become known as the Saltiron Wars. Although these wars are over when Triangle Strategy’s story begins in earnest, the alliance between the three kingdoms remains uneasy. An opportunity arises when a large vein of precious minerals is discovered, as each of the three kingdoms is able to provide their own expertise to set up a mining operation. This mining project is the first real step towards lasting peace, but as you’d expect, there wouldn’t be a reason for Triangle Strategy to exist as a game if this went off without a hitch. Instead, Serenoa, who steps into the footsteps of his father as the new lord of Wolffort, is thrust into the center of a conflict that will determine the fate of Norzelia for centuries to come.

We didn’t quite expect Triangle Strategy to be as story-driven as it turned out to be, but we’re not going to complain about it either. What you’re getting here is a carefully crafted narrative filled with political intrigue, choices that feel like they matter, and characters that you’ll grow to genuinely care about. Triangle Strategy’s story is intrinsically tied to the game experience and it isn’t something you simply skip through between battles. So, if you decide to take the plunge, be prepared to do a lot of reading (or listening). If that isn’t your cup of tea, then this isn’t going to be your kind of game, but if you’re up for a 50-hour campaign that almost rivals Game of Thrones with its breadth of characters, interwoven storylines, and branching endings, then you’ll be absolutely delighted with Triangle Strategy.

Graphics

Triangle Strategy makes use of Square Enix’s so-called 2D HD graphics, which we first saw in Octopath Traveller. 2D sprites are juxtaposed against detailed 3D-esque environments, making for a striking visual style. The only downside to these gorgeous visuals is that they are also used during the game’s cutscenes, and given how much of the time you’ll simply be looking at characters talking, it can get a little boring from a visual perspective, as there is only so much that can be done with sprites and a fixed camera angle. Given that stunning watercolor art exists for these characters, we would’ve loved a shift in perspective during key story scenes, even with static images in that hand-drawn art style.

Sound

Because of the game’s reliance on sprites, the voice acting plays a crucial role in bringing these characters to life. The results are mixed, unfortunately. Certain cast members really bring everything they can to the table, from Caleb Yen’s cynical and snarky Dragan to Emma Ballantine’s heartbreaking performance as Frederica. Unfortunately, not all voice actors land their voice roles equally gracefully, with Shai Matheson’s performance of Serenoa in particular feeling lackluster. This is in part due to the way the lines were recorded, in isolation due to pandemic measures that were in place. The audible dialogue feels scattered as a result, with little to no chemistry between certain cast members. This is partly compensated by the excellent writing, fortunately. The game’s OST fares a lot better, with fantastic music composed by Fullmetal Alchemist’s Akira Senju.

Gameplay

If you were hoping to jump straight into some turn-based tactics action, then we suggest you temper your expectations. While Triangle Strategy’s core gameplay revolves around turn-based battles akin to something like Reverie Knights Tactics or Advance Wars, the game takes its time to set up the powder keg that is the central conflict of the story, and it takes several hours before the fuse is lit. During our first three hours with Triangle Strategy, we played through a grand total of two battles, one of which was the tutorial. The first few chapters of the game feel like you’re playing through a visual novel more than anything. Things pick up though, with small-stakes battles against bandits eventually scaling up and ultimately turning into an all-out war.

Each battle, no matter how small, feels like a logical inclusion that ties into the story. The story-driven nature of these battles gives developer Artdink the ample opportunity to turn them into set-pieces rather than generic skirmishes, unlike what we recently saw in Gem Wizards Tactics. Despite this, the chaotic nature of the actual fights ensures that the battles themselves can play out differently, even when replaying the same map multiple times. For the most part, actually playing through the battles should feel familiar if you’ve played other titles in the genre, though Triangle Strategy does shake things up through some clever mechanics, such as the way you position your units. For example, attacking an enemy from the rear will always result in a critical hit, and placing one of your units on opposing sides of the same enemy will result in bonus attacks. Unlike most other tactics games, the turn order is determined by the speed stat of units, so you’ll need to strategize accordingly as you cannot simply choose when to use which unit. There’s no permadeath here either, which gives you some wiggle room, and given how tough some of the later battles are, this felt like the right choice.

While the battles are sure to delight fans of tactics games, the way the story unfolds is equally gripping. Triangle Strategy presents the player with a plethora of choices, and none of them feel superfluous or irrelevant. Without moving into spoiler territory, there are occasions where your decisions ultimately affect who lives or dies, and many of the situations you find yourself fretting over have no ideal outcome, instead forcing you to choose between the lesser of two evils. An interesting mechanic here comes in the form of the so-called “Scales of Conviction”, where your trusted friends get to vote on the outcome of a situation. While you’re not directly in control here, you do get the opportunity to try and convince them to vote in a specific way, though the outcome is never 100% certain.

With a campaign that will take you roughly 40 to 50 hours to play through, you’ve already got your work cut out for you, but Triangle Strategy goes several steps further towards delivering bang for your buck. You’ll be able to multiply those 50 hours several times, as the game doesn’t just offer replayability through branching endings affected by your story, but also via various difficulty levels, including a New Game+ mode after you clear the game for the first time. While the slow pacing of the opening acts hurts replayability somewhat, despite the fact that you can fast forward through the story, Triangle Strategy is still a title you’re going to want to return to over and over again.

Conclusion

With its excellent tactical gameplay and carefully crafted story, Triangle Strategy is going to be a title that is going to be lovingly remembered for years to come. The game isn’t going to be for everyone, mainly because of the slow pacing, but the payoff is worth it as the way the game is structured makes you genuinely care about the characters and every element feels integral to the story. There are some rough edges, including not enough visual variety during cutscenes and mixed voice acting, but overall, Triangle Strategy is a delight to play.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Triangle Strategy - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
SebastiaanRaats


1 Comment

  1. 3rd-strike.com | The Hand of Merlin – Review
    June 29, 2022, 00:01

    […] way as you’d get with other titles in the strategy genre that are more character-driven, like Triangle Strategy or Dark […]

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