Title: Triangle Strategy
Developer: Square Enix
Release Date: March 4, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Triangle Strategy is the latest game in the series of Square Enix published games that harken back to classic titles. Like how Bravely Default channeled Final Fantasy V and Octopath Traveller channeled Live A Live, this Artdink developed title channels the classic Ogre Battle games from the mid-’90s to early 2000s, such as Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together.
Triangle Strategy had me pumped as a huge fan of strategy RPGs that challenge your skills while providing a gripping narrative. Despite the terrible choice of name, I was very excited to see what the team could pull off.
Triangle Strategy is a tile-based strategy RPG with cute chibi graphics and a story full of politics. You take charge of Seranoa, the new heir to house Wolffort, a noble house of Glenbrook, a country situated between the nations of Aesfrost and Hyzante, which have been fighting over the scant resources of iron and salt.
Seranoa has been arranged to marry Princess Frederica of Aesfrost as a political measure to strengthen the ties between nations as they work together to open a joint mining venture. But, of course, things go very wrong quickly, as Aesfrost has discovered something within the mines and has invaded Glenbrook to capitalize on its content. What follows next is up to you.
Triangle Strategy is a very unique title in which your choices will significantly impact the story. The maps, story beats, and characters you obtain will change upon actions, influencing your morality. The most major decisions are decided with the scale of conviction, where you hear out your central party members, and a vote decides upon the course of action, but you have time to discuss their stance and challenge it in an attempt to change their minds should you want to. These interactions had me sweating because I didn’t know which choice was best. Then the game would throw all sorts of politics my way to manage directly after, which is intense.
While there are many divergences and multiple endings, the story uses lots of branch merging, which means you will see different paths converge together, with the main decision that influences your last maps happening fairly late in the story. This isn’t to say that it’s a false sense of choice, though, as making one set of options can make Triangle Strategy a tale about having to make the hard choice to go against principle in the name of survival and the greater good or a tale about standing strong to your convictions. Your choices will decide the ‘flow’ and ‘theming’ of the story right until the very end. It’s incredibly well implemented, and I was floored by the execution-making story beats I’d already read through taking on different contexts.
The cast itself is individually relatively weak. Four of the main seven characters get to really excel, and the remaining three are just sorta neat. And then you’ve got everyone else, a plethora of obtainable characters who can join you based on your minute actions. Unfortunately, while they all get some background and fleshing out in character side-stories, these side-stories don’t integrate themselves well into the main campaign, with awkward timing abounds.
However, since these characters are ultimately unimportant to the overarching narrative, it’s not a big deal. The voice acting lends a lot to the presentation. The direction is fantastic, making up for a total lack of emotional portraits and minimal narration for what can almost feel like a novel at times due to the sheer amount of cutscenes.
Where these characters really come into play is the combat. Every cast member has different tools and gimmicks to use that give them particular roles without explicitly overshadowing anyone. For example, Erador and Picoletta are uniquely skilled at enemy redirection. Still, while Erador is a powerful tank with aggro and counter skills, Picoletta has a decoy skill that summons a weak clone with innate aggro.
Maps also often feature weather effects and terrain advantages that units can use for a wide variety of strategies. You’ll want to use them because this game is brutal, with normal difficulty being a sizable challenge for those who are unused to strategy RPGs and no real game-breaking characters or abilities to just steamroll through everything as you progress.
Luckily, there are easier modes for those who want to enjoy the narrative the game presents, but also more challenging modes for those who want to push themselves to their very limits. If you thought Fire Emblem games on Lunatic were demanding, just wait until you get a load of this, and it’s not even unfair. It just makes you feel sad when you think you’re super good at SRPGs. It helps the music is excellent to headbang to as you struggle out planning your next actions.
Triangle Strategy is a terrible name. It tells little about the game besides that it has something to do with triangles and strategy. This name ultimately fails to share anything that implies the adventure offers an incredible narrative, fantastic combat, and possibly the best implementation of choice and morality I have seen in a video game.
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