Triangle Strategy is the next in line for Square’s HD-2D series, following the success of Octopath Traveler. Made by the very same team that developed Octopath, this game features a similar gorgeous artstyle of pixelated characters in a stunning hand made environment. Triangle Strategy had a playable demo that promised a deep and interesting storyline, a reputation system that would dictate which units you unlocked in your army, and branching story paths that would change the maps you would face, all while providing a deep gameplay cycle that would keep gamers on their toes. How well did Triangle Strategy meet these goals?
Does it surpass its predecessor? Was all the buildup to the game’s release worth the wait, or is this simply a sad attempt at capturing the nostalgia older tactical games like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics would provide? Let’s begin to dissect this game to find out.
The story of Triangle Strategy revolves around the three powerhouse countries of Hyzante, Aesfrost, and Glenbrook, with each controlling a major resource or aspect of life. The three countries were once involved in a massive and bloody war called the Saltiron War, before entering a truce with one another to prevent any more bloodshed. The story begins 30 years after this truce begins, where the three nations share a relatively shaky peace with one another. The player is thrust into the role of Serenoa Wolffort, the son of one the leaders of the three high houses of Glenbrook.
Shortly after the game begins, the player will be thrust into a full on war where their actions and words will not only dictate the route the story will take, but also who will join their army. There are so many branching routes and splits in the game, that it would take someone at least 4 whole runs of the game to see everything it has to offer.
Unlike some games where it feels like your choices do not matter, this is one aspect of Triangle Strategy that the game really excels at. Your choices not only change the ending, but various amounts of dialogue, as well as your roster. Every run in this game feels fresh and new. Not only are the choices plentiful, but they are thought provoking as well. Do you sacrifice your best friend and Prince of Glenbrook, Prince Roland, to the invading Aesfrosti soldiers to defend your territory, or let your people suffer from a full on invasion that you may be unprepared for? These decisions are the driving force in Triangle Strategy, and although the choices can all be laid out on a timeline leading back to the same ending point, the game still has enough diverse choices to make it feel like your decisions have mattered.
The player alone does not decide the route the story will take. Instead, the main characters that start the game with you will all vote on what course of action to take throughout the story. In order for the player to “choose” what route to go on, they must first convince their allies to match their opinion. This clever system rewards players who have been paying attention to the characters and exploring when they can to learn more about the world they are in.
The more knowledgeable you are about a character’s motivations, and the conflict happening in the world, the more likely you are to sway your allies to your preferred outcome. While also rewarding players for paying attention, this also truly makes the cast feel diverse yet united in cause at the same time. Long gone are the days where a singular lord decides what the entire army does without referring to anyone else. Now, one must look to their allies to help guide their decisions.
The story will focus on both the political and actual battles each nation employs to gain an upper hand in battle. The scale feels very similar to Game of Thrones with each nation and character having their own motivations as it all culminates into a massive war. The entire game is voice acted, and while I have heard that some people dislike the English and prefer to play in Japanese, I think the voice acting is wonderful and matches the emotion and tension at hand. Despite having multiple paths, not only does the story feel as coherent as Octopath, it surpasses it in every regard. The story being told here is one of ideals clashing against each other, morals being tested, and seeing humanity at its best and at its worst. It is coherent, beautifully written, and voiced to near perfection. The story is easily one of this game’s best aspects, especially when the gameplay compliments it so heavily.
For fans of Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem, you will feel right at home in the gameplay department. Out of the cast of 30 playable units, there is not a single one that plays exactly the same as another. There are some that fill similar archetypes such as archers, mages, or shielders, but they each have certain aspects to their kit that makes them excel in some situations more than others in the same archetype. In my genuine opinion, there is no truly “bad” unit in this game, and everyone can be usable with a little bit of investment and knowledge. Some will shine more than others of course, but overall, the balance is pretty good. And with the option to change the difficulty of the game on a whim, players are free to use who they want and play how they want. There are lots of synergies that can be discovered and utilized between units that are extremely fun to use. Aside from the units, players can also employ various quietuses, or spell-like effects, onto the battlefield to really change up their strategies.
Unlike Fire Emblem, there are no phases, and instead, turn order is dictated by a unit’s speed. Faster units like mages and swordsmen will move before more heavily armored shield men. Units will use a system similar to Boosting in Octopath where they gain one TP every turn, and they use it to do different skills they have like delaying an opponent’s next turn, dealing more damage, jumping to a higher area, or increasing their range. This system is very interesting and leads to more strategic decisions. Do you want to spam low cost moves, or save up for a larger attack?
Another important piece of information is positioning overall really matters in this game. If you attack from a higher position, attacks deal more damage. Attacking from behind does more damage, and if you pinch an enemy between two units, both units will attack said enemy. Of course all of this applies to the enemy as well, so players have to be very careful as they advance on an enemy squad. This all still applies on New Game + runs, which allow you to carry over everything from characters, to items and money, on a new run to explore new paths.
Aside from battles, there are various exploration phases where you can take time to explore locations central to the story. Here you can find various pieces of information you can use to convince your allies in the decision segments, items to use in battle, or accessories to equip your units with. These sections really add a lot to the setting and worldbuilding as well as you can hear various opinions and lifestyles of those living in the world. And they are just absolutely gorgeous to explore. Whether it be the deserts of Hyzante, or the snowy mountains of Aesfrost, or the river filled territory of House Telliore, there is never a boring sight in this game. All the settings and battles are only further enhanced by the soundtrack of this game.
The music in the game ranges from charming and quiet to epic and intense. The song selection here is quite large, and everything fits perfectly. There is not one song that feels odd or out of place. The battle music is thought provoking and intense, but is not too action packed as to make you lose your train of thought. While the more emotional and intense pieces still manage to give the player room to think about their next move on the battlefield. Out of battle, the pieces attributed to characters and locations are exceptional at matching the personality of each character and culture of each setting.
The graphics are exceptional, combining 2D sprites in beautiful HD backgrounds. The particle effects from moves performed in combat are a bit over the top, but welcome all the same. Everything lends itself here to just a gorgeous cohesive art style that feels right at home with fans of RPGs. Triangle Strategy actually improves on this a little from its predecessor by removing the darkened corners that annoyed some people in Octopath. The game looks crisp and beautiful, and the game runs as well as it looks. There are no frame drops or performance issues even while performing more flashy moves in combat.
This game is easily a contender for Game of The Year, and might even surpass the likes of Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. With graphics and a soundtrack that rivals that of Octopath Traveler, a superb story that draws attention to the best and worst aspects of humanity, interesting characters that grow throughout the story, thought provoking choices that actually impact the player’s game, and a deep combat system that leaves a lot of room for creativity for the player, Triangle Strategy delivers on all of its promises and more.
With over 40 different main story chapters to go through, many characters that can not all be unlocked in one run, 4 different endings, and 3 difficulty options, the game will leave you begging for a replay. Triangle Strategy will grab hold of those that like deep stories and tactical gameplay, and will not let go until their journey is over. Triangle Strategy hits all the right marks, and receives a 10 out of 10.