Review: Triangle Strategy

Liberty. Morality. Utility. The choice is yours.

Console: Nintendo Switch

Square Enix's Octopath Traveller might just be my favourite Nintendo Switch title. As such, when Square Enix revealed 'Project: Triangle Strategy' I was immediately interested. The chance to play an SRPG made with Octopath's 2D-HD graphics is one I couldn't pass on. The universe must have felt my excitement as the game even arrived on my doorstep a day before its official release! Thank you to whoever made that mistake!

Anyhoo, now that the game is out in the wild does it live up to its potential? If you're an SRPG fan or want to experience the genre for the first time, then Triangle Strategy is a game that should be on your radar.

Let's dive in!


The continent of Norzelia, made up of the nation’s Glenbrook, Aesfrost and Hyzante, has been at peace for 30 years after the end of the ´Ironsalt wars´. A war thought over the continent's scarce iron and salt resources. The truce has been an uneasy one, however, with the tension between the three nations rising, particularly in regards to Hyzante´s salt monopoly. When a shocking discovery is made at a joint-mining venture, the bells of war can once again be heard.

The story of Triangle Strategy is an interesting one. It’s well written, one that goes over many aspects of war. From the politics to the human element to its unintended consequences. From best friends finding themselves in opposition to learning that there is more than meets the eye to your enemies. In short: the narrative is complex and it has a lot of choices for you to make that affect the story to different degrees. From a small diversion that has no bearing aside from recruiting a specific character to directly influencing the ending, there are many choices to be made.

This focus on choice is both a praiseworthy and flawed aspect of the game. Seeing how your choices affect the story and characters is interesting and makes those victories feel that much more earned and those losses that much more painful. Gives the game a replayability factor as well. How the choices are made, however, leaves a lot to be desired.

You see a choice is made democratically. The other 7 characters that make up the main cast get to vote on what path to take. To get the path you want, you will have to convince others that your choice is the right one. While nice on paper this isn´t the best way of making decisions. It´s too hindering.

Your ability to convince them depends on two factors. In the exploration phase, you can learn information that can help you sway your allies. Not always, but it is worth your while to find as much intel regardless. The second factor is your conviction levels. Every choice you make, every response you give and every move you make gives you points toward one of the three convictions: liberty, morality and utility. The higher your level in any conviction, the higher the chance to persuade your allies choice. The opposite, however, is also true. Should your convictions be too low, no matter what you say to them, they won´t be swayed to your side.

A look at the voting section. You get to see what the default choices of each character are so you know on who to focus you persuasion.
 
Since the conviction levels are hidden from you (until New Game Plus) and the vagueness of how the system works you can find yourself locked out of the path you want to take and not know why. Taking different paths is such a big part of the game that using such a flawed and convoluted system like this is far from ideal.

Another issue I have with the narrative is the sheer amount of story elements. From main story bits to little events that are not necessary to progress but give you more perspective. Some moments, you jump from one battle to the next while other times you can spend over an hour on just the story. They really should’ve balanced this better.

Let´s get into the gameplay. Triangle Strategy has three different gameplay styles. Voting, exploration and battling. In voting and exploration, you get control of the main character Serenoa as you get to walk around small areas, gathering intel, talking to citizens and trying to persuade your allies. A fun way to interact with the world beyond the battles and spend some downtime.

In the battles, you and your opponent take turns moving their party across a grid-based field to route and defeat the units of your opponent. In typical SRPG fashion, each unit has unique attributes, different stats and classes and you can a variety of them over the course of the campaign. Levelling up your units and using items to promote them to a higher class will make them stronger and unlock new skills and abilities for you to use and strategize around. You know, the usual. Unlike in Fire Emblem, arguably the biggest SRPG series at the moment, there´s no permadeath, no romances and no counter-attacking though.

Triangle Strategy supplements the absence of these features with features of its own. The placement in the turn order is determined by their speed stat, with certain skills and actions allowing you to play around when your units get to move. The positioning of units has a lot of bells and whistles around it as well. Units placed on opposite sides of an enemy will attack the enemy from both sides during the same turn, while an attack from behind or above leads to more damage. Environmental conditions can be exploited for extra damage and TP, points that build up every turn can be used to utilize powerful attacks and skills. 

A quick look at a battle. You can see your positioning as well as the turn order bar.

The game has a good mix of old and new ideas that make the combat fun, and with how easy it is to understand its mechanics, it's one that´s welcoming to new players. Just know that the game can be more difficult than you´d expect. It´s not Dark Souls or anything, but ´normal´ is certainly up a notch from what I´m used to.

Triangle Strategy is one of Square Enix´s HD-2D games. A visual style where 2D pixel visuals are given an HD and 3D coat of paint. A very good looking visual style that is perfect for what an RPG visually requires. I only wish that the game had incorporated the character portraits more. Showing them next to a character's speech bubble instead of locking them behind a separate screen would’ve been nice and would have given players a better idea of how these characters look exactly.

Conclusion

Triangle Strategy is a well-made, fun and approachable SRPG. For fans of the genre like me, the gameplay gives exactly what I wanted along with some nice additions to make it all feel a little different from the likes of Fire Emblem. It is simultaneously welcoming for players new to the genre, making it a good starting point for them. Tie this all up with an interesting, if flawed, story, lots of replay potential and the beautiful HD-2D visuals and you’ve got yourself a winner of a title on your hands! 

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