TRIANGLE STRATEGY Review (Switch) | Nintendo Life
When we previewed Triangle Strategy’s opening hours
Just a few weeks ago we came away suitably impressed by its slick mix of choice-driven narrative. Detailed world-building, and satisfyingly strategic combat action. It’s a setup that immediately engaged us. Introducing a strong cast of characters, embroiling us in some fascinating Game of Thrones-style fantasy politics. And setting the stage for what we dearly hoped would be a grand tale full of drama. Epic battles, and tough decisions to come.
Thankfully, now that we’ve spent some 50 or so hours with the finished product. We can report that Square Enix has fully delivered on the promise of its prologue demo. Triangle Strategy is a fantastic tactical RPG that serves up an engrossing tale. Top-notch battles, multiple routes through its excellent campaign. And several wildly different endings that you’ll absolutely want to dive back into the game in order to experience. This one barely puts a foot wrong.
It may take its sweet time at points —
We’ve already seen plenty of comments in the wake of the demo wondering. If the game continues to feature so much in the way of lengthy conversations between battles (it absolutely does). But the pay-off is so worth it. This is a game that sinks its hooks into you. Introduces a fantastic cast of characters that you’ll grow to truly care about. Thrusts you into impossible situations, and affords you the opportunity to make genuinely meaningful choices. That affects who lives or dies and who and what will be destroyed. As you make the sacrifices necessary in order to prevail.
It’s an impressively mature and complex campaign in many ways. Too, one that manages to successfully mix its political and more fantastical elements. Injecting plenty of real-world issues regarding religious manipulation of the masses. Fabricated fear as a means of control, slavery, and racism into its tale. Honestly, we’re not going to detail a single moment of the story. Here as any spoilers would entirely ruin the impact of the thing. But Triangle Strategy just absolutely delivers on the narrative front.
Producer Tomoya Asano, who also worked on Bravely Default and Octopath Traveler
Has spoken in the past of how he wanted to take this game in a slightly different direction. Away from some of the more traditional aspects of JRPGs. And it’s a decision that’s worked wonders for how the action in Triangle Strategy flows. The narrative structure here is tight. And there’s no unnecessary dilution of the core crisis. By shifting the player’s focus into the shoes of multiple protagonists. You’re pretty much locked into the story from Serenoa’s point of view. And it makes proceedings all the more intense and memorable as a result.
The core gameplay loop here consists of lengthy narrative elements, big beefy battles, and short periods of exploration that allow you to wander around the game’s beautiful little dioramas — and it’s a loop that works really, really well in keeping the player invested at all times in what’s going on across a lengthy campaign.
Much has been made of the “Scales of Conviction”
Choice-driven aspects of Triangle Strategy in the build-up to release and to this end, the game also manages to fully deliver on its promise.
So, in terms of the story, beyond some hilariously OTT dialogue in places
And a few rough edges to the English voice-acting, all is truly well and good. But what about the combat? Well, Triangle Strategy serves up a feast in this respect, too, with some excellent set-piece battles that introduce lots of well-designed systems that are underpinned by genuine tension thanks to the game’s consistently excellent world-building. You aren’t just fighting alongside a bunch of random NPCs here, oh no, you’re going up against it with your dearest friends and comrades, characters that you actually care about. Thank goodness there’s no perma-death or we may not have been able to take it.
The tactical RPG elements here play out in a fashion that Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars fans will recognize immediately, with the game’s turn-based battles taking place on a grid system that highlights where your currently selected party member can and can’t move during a turn. Strategic layers are then piled on, with each member of your sizeable entourage wielding a suite of upgradeable powers and abilities that you’ll need to make full use of in order to come out on top of encounters.
You’ll want to plan in advance to make use of the game’s clever follow-up attack system,
Whereby putting one unit on each side of a foe instigates a double assault — a move that’s invaluable in taking troublesome enemy battlemages and healers down quickly — as well as taking advantage of the high ground wherever possible, as attacks from height deal extra damage. You’ll also need to consider employing various well-timed elemental combos of magic to soften up packs of enemies, use a mage’s powers to soak an area with water or melt an icy patch into a puddle, for example, then zap the place with electricity and frazzle a bunch of foes at once. There are opportunities aplenty for the strategically minded here and always another way to approach a problem when you take the time to really sit back and consider all of your options.
Triangle Strategy also does a wonderful job of feeding you lots of useful information in a user-friendly fashion, showing you which enemies can assault you from any given spot when you hover over a position, giving you a preview of the damage you’ll dish out with any of your attacks and allowing you to simulate entire moves before committing to them fully, minimizing your chances of making horrendous errors of judgment during battle. (NB: we still made many horrendous errors of judgment during battle.)
You’ll be given the opportunity to sort your troops pre-fight
Mulling over your options and choosing which combatants from your constantly evolving roster you wish you to take into action. The game continues to help out as much as it can here, even flagging up recommended party members and giving you ready access to your encampment area in order to buy supplies, rank up individual units, level up weapons, and so on before you progress to the battle screen properly. Here you can position characters where you want them — healers and support at the rear, thanks to the front and all that sort of thing — before surveying an overview of the battlefield, checking your specific objectives, and then diving in
Played on Normal difficulty,
The opening few hours provide a good tutorial for the meatier fights that lie ahead, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get used to moving your party around and to get a feel for each character’s strengths and weaknesses. We quickly developed go-to units and rarely went into battle without Anna the backstabbing assassin who can hide in the shadows, Roland and his deadly lance attacks, Hughette’s debilitating ranged arrow shots, and both Benedict and Geela providing constant healing and combat buffs from the rear of the pack.
As you progress through the campaign and depending on the choices you make, you’ll fill out your roster with a whole bunch of brilliant characters — we ended the game with some eighteen in our ranks — each of whom provides you with unique and useful tactical options. Heck, you can even flirt with enemy soldiers in order to distract them should you choose to roll with exotic dancer Milo in your crew, or simply confuse the life out of foes with the wordsmith, Lionel.
There’s a good amount of variety introduced
Without these flourishes, the combat here would still be top-notch stuff, but the variety that’s added as a result just elevates the whole thing that little bit more, making for prolonged engagements that we never minded having to replay when we failed, something we honestly can’t often say about games in this particular genre.
In terms of difficulty options
Once you’ve seen the credits of the campaign for the first time you’ll also gain access to NG+, so don’t feel as though dropping to Easy first time out will see you missing anything, there’s plenty of time through NG+ and repeat visits in order to see all of the game’s endings for you to improve and then crank that difficulty dial-up.
With regards to performance, this really is a beautiful game —
With a sumptuous orchestral soundtrack to match — that shares the same trademarked “HD-2D” art style as Octopath Traveller and we didn’t encounter a single frame rate stutter, glitch, or bug in our entire extended time spent playing. Loading times are unobtrusive, conversation text is perfectly readable in handheld and busy battles are easy to parse, even on the Switch’s portable screen. Square Enix has, in short, done a wonderful job on the technical side of things here.
Overall then, Triangle Strategy is a complete delight
It’s the kind of special game that makes a proper impact, leaving you with lasting memories of people and places, great big battles, and tiny victories snatched from the jaws of what seemed like a certain defeat. Some folk may find the pace a little on the slow side at times and, as we’ve already mentioned, there’s some seriously OTT dialogue and rough acting here and there, but these are infinitesimally small issues in the face of everything this one gets right.