Triangle Strategy review: a tactical RPG with trust issues
There are no stories stronger than those we tell ourselves. In some way, Triangle Strategy accepts this idea. In others, he seems hopelessly forgetful.
Created as a collaboration between Square Enix and Artdink, Triangle Strategy is a turn-based tactical RPG with the scope and ambition of a Tolkien novel. Despite the visual relationship with Octopath Traveler and under lead producer Tomoya Asano (who helped spearhead the development of the 2018 JRPG), Triangle Strategy is not so much a party adventure as a large-scale political drama. Instead of exploring the camaraderie among friends, it focuses on the relationship between their people. Let’s put it another way: if Octopath Traveler was The Fellowship of the Ring, then Triangle Strategy is two towers as well as Return of the King, combined.
The story takes place on the continent of Norselia and the three countries it includes: Esfrost, who controls the iron mines of Norselia; Gisante, supplier of salt reserves; and Glenbrook, the kingdom acting as an intermediary between them. In keeping with the traditional Final fantasy tactic, Suikoden 2 and Fire Emblem games, I build an army and command multiple characters on grid-based 3D battlefields. Throughout my 45-hour campaign, I mainly play the role of Serenoa, the member of the Glenbrook and Atlas royal family, on whose shoulders Norcelia begins to swing.
With arranged marriages, insidious betrayals, and distracting death scenes, Triangle Strategythe script unfolds a list of JRPGs and fantasy tropes. It also introduces such a wide range of characters, locations, feuds, and traditions that I started to lose sight of them after only a few chapters, despite the predictability of it al Despite this, my biggest problem with Triangle Strategy lies less in his plot and more in his narrative. Despite all the promises of a tactical RPG, there are many promises in this regard – the game refuses to trust me. He doesn’t seem to think that I can fill in the gaps and build a story from the pieces in front of me. About 50% of my time at Triangle Strategy was spent watching videos; they are beautiful, yes, but also often outsiders. Other sequences actively undermine the momentum of the drama that unfolds in the gameplay. Square Enix and Artdink are so desperate to control the storytelling through exposition and dialogue that they keep reporting major combat twists and opportunities that arise. It gets stuffy quickly.
Take one of my favorite characters, General Aurora. Once a soldier in the northern realm of Esfrost, she quickly rose through the ranks to become one of Norzelia’s most prolific military minds. She is cunning, cheerful, and, when necessary, fierce. Triangle Strategy spends hours establishing these character traits in gorgeous cutscenes set in picturesque locations.
And none of them were needed.
I know Avlora is cunning because she targeted my weakest units first. I know Avlora is resilient because it took two of my best mages to keep her at bay. And I know Avlora is fierce because she eliminated my most enduring character with a simple swing of her bastard sword like she was blowing a curtain or wading through a fog. When Triangle Strategy actually takes my hands off the wheel, giving me free rein to build my camp, recruit new characters, upgrade their weapons, manage their inventory, and use them according to their abilities during heated battles with brilliant environmental interaction, there is nothing like it . . Not even Fire Emblem: Awakening could gain such momentum. (And I consider this game the best in its class.)
One battle gave me the opportunity to fight back against the enemy using a morally dubious weapon hidden in the city I was defending. The results were terrible, and the victory was bittersweet. I walked through the aftermath with more than a little regret. It’s times like these when the game gives me the time I need to sort through the wreckage and take stock of my situation; it’s just great.
Triangle Strategy sometimes, the splendor extends beyond the battlefield. Several interactive chapters focus less on Serenoa’s duties as a general and more on his role as a diplomat. As I explore the city streets and interact with members of my army during their downtime, I uncover common fears, hopes, and beliefs. I can then use this information in voting, in which I work to convince members of my inner circle to vote for one reason or another. (On one occasion, a neighboring lord offered us an alliance, but some members of my council were less trusting than others.) slice artificial – I’ve been able to sway opinions to the desired outcome each time – but they bring outsides of the characters that the fights (and the annoying cutscenes) can’t. In the end, I got insecure. Because on paper, Triangle Strategy reminds me of my dream game. And in some moments, it’s pretty damn close. He simply cannot help but strain his heavy hand to impose history as it “should be.” Just like a Lego employee kicks down my door to punish me for ignoring the instruction manual, he rarely lets me build my own structure out of the bricks stacked in front of me.
Yet. I will always have those moments on the battlefield when Triangle Strategy is ready to meet my needs, just as he sent Narva, the wandering magician, who came to my camp on the eve of the decisive battle, brave and sincere, to offer his services. His elemental spells were weak, but he had potential. In the morning, I seated him next to Rudolf, a bandit, whose skill with a bow and love of bear traps made him a faithful protector. Nerve fought several elite enemies, but Rudolph kept an eye on him. They both escaped unscathed and quickly became friends.
At least that’s what I told myself – right before the next cutscene.