April 13, 2022 — Triangle Strategy is a sequel on two fronts. It is the spiritual successor to the seminal Final Fantasy Tactics which has not seen a mainline game since the 2007-2008 Japanese launch on the handheld DS. It is also the second game to use Square Enix’s patented and decidedly gorgeous HD-2D aesthetic since Octopath Traveler was released in 2018. The game has a lot to live up to. So, is this lengthy strategy RPG worth your time?
“I played Triangle Strategy thoroughly for a month — since its March launch. I took my time because I wanted to properly drink in the atmosphere and provide a fair and meaningful review.”
Three Nations Walk Into A Bar
Strongly focused on narrative, the story follows three nations that have been at war with one another time and time again. Finally, at long last, peace has been found via a treaty. One of the realms known as Glenbrook is opening up an iron mine and wishes for the other two countries, Hyzante and Aesfrost, to share in the wealth. Well, it’s predictable but of course, war breaks out. There wouldn’t be much of a game without conflict.
You play as Serenoa who is the new leader of House Wolffort, one of the many prestigious families within the kingdom of Glenbrook. It’s Serenoa’s duty to make sure the kingdom of Glenbrook remains above water. One of the mechanics that makes this game unique is called the ‘Scales of a Conviction’ and throughout the adventure, players will be asked to vote on how to proceed.
Before any voting goes down, Serenoa can talk to his party members and other NPCs to get a better grasp of the “political” situation of the kingdom-trio.
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These investigations may lead to unlocking new dialogue choices to help persuade the party to go along with your chosen path. Also, there are many branching storylines in Triangle Strategy — and they are all great. This gem of a game has a huge cast of characters that you’re either going to fall in love with or deeply despise.
The heroes are dazzling while the villains are dripping with cheese. The pacing between cutscenes and battles might not always be the best, although that is a minor complaint.
A Time Loop Adjacent RPG
I have been playing Triangle Strategy thoroughly for the better part of a month since it launched at the beginning of March. I took my time with it because I wanted to properly drink in the atmosphere and provide a fair and meaningful review. The first time through took me about 25 hours but that wasn’t my final playtime. Once you finish, you can start (the now industry-standard) a New Game+ Mode which allows you to carry over almost everything.
I for one always appreciate these extra modes but rarely have the time or desire to start a game anew right after completion. Triangle Strategy is the first game in which I didn’t know how long it immediately had me hooked when the + replay option popped up.
“I desperately wanted to see the other paths. What story beats did I miss? Once completed, ‘Triangle Strategy’ gets a +replay mode that makes subsequent run-throughs great.”
I desperately wanted to see the other paths. What story beats did I miss? What optional characters were there to recruit? You get the idea. The second run-through did not feel like a slog because I could skip cutscenes and speed through the old content and get to the new stuff. I found it very much like a time loop game wherein I was trying to get the best ending possible.
Full disclosure, I got a terrible ending my first way through which was more bittersweet. The true Golden Route ending, as it is called, is well worth the extra effort to get to.
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It’s Time To Fight
Triangle Strategy operates like many tactical RPGs. Players get to choose from a select amount of soldiers to send into battle. Each character has a limited amount of tiles, or grid if you will, they can move before they need to take an action.
One of the things I thought I was going to miss from Final Fantasy Tactics was the lack of a Job system in Triangle Strategy. Instead of allowing characters to switch between Jobs, each has their special role which helps add to the tactical nature of the game. Jens, for example, is a blacksmith that can use his powers to build ladders to climb heights faster. Besides unique classes like the blacksmith, there are cavalrymen, thieves, bowmen, mages, and so forth.
“Players don’t equip weapons or armor, as stats instead are built using a skill tree disguised as weaponry upgrade.”
Your heroes can equip accessories to boost stats or get a special skill — like negating poison. Players don’t equip anything else like weapons and armor, as stats instead are built using a skill tree disguised in the form of upgrading weapons.
You can also promote characters to higher-ranked versions of their starter class. Anna, for example, starts as a thief/spy before becoming a deadly assassin. It’s a simple system but one I found truly engaging just like the tactical combat. There is nothing quite like a strategy RPG of this caliber to get one’s brain racing.
THE GOOD STUFF
- Amazing pixel art in uniquely presented in HD-2D.
- Challenging battles that will stimulate your brain.
- The branching story paths make multiple playthroughs totally worthwhile.
- Some odd story pacing issues.
- Loads could be faster on Switch.
- A few of the characters felt redundant and somewhat needless.
Building A Triumphant Legacy
I say this without any sort of hyperbole, but Triangle Strategy is a triumph on almost every level. The HD-2D art, which Square Enix has trademarked, uses pixel graphics and 3D backdrops and is one of the best visual styles Square Enix has ever created. The musical score is also phenomenal, making battles immersive and highly engaging — as if I were right there, in the game.
“Triangle Strategy is amazing and I would be surprised if it didn’t make it to my (and others) Game of the Year list.”
There really isn’t a lot to complain about other than a few small gripes. Yes, some cutscenes were redundant, there are playable characters that feel too much like others, and the loading time can be concerning. Those three issues are all stretches only to find something wrong with Triangle Strategy. Either way, there was nothing about this game that made me even consider lowering the review score at any point.
Triangle Strategy is simply amazing and I would be quite surprised if it didn’t make it to my (and others) Game of the Year list.
Triangle Strategy is available on Nintendo Switch and was released on March 4, 2022. A free, playable demo is available that lets players start from the beginning and get through to Chapter 3 to experience their first ‘Scales of Conviction’ vote. Any progress made in the demo carries over to the full game if purchased.