Subtle and sublime are the descriptors that best match the $59.99 Triangle strategy. Subtle, as the strategy RPG’s highly accessible gameplay elements, impeccable balance, and narrative integration aren’t immediately apparent. Sublime, as the sum of its parts elevates the game, producing one of the finest titles for the Nintendo Switch. On top of that, excellent combat, gripping story facets, and divergent campaign routes keep you enthralled for over 50 hours of gameplay. It’s just a shame Triangle Strategy has such a mundane name, because the game is anything but.
talk between houses
Triangle Strategy is set in a realm called Norzelia and focuses on three realms – Glenbrook, Aesfrost, and Hyzante – which form the titular Triangle. These nations have formed an alliance after the devastating Saltiron War, but the armistice falters as the game begins. You assume the role of Serenoa Wolffort, heiress to the most important house of Glenbrook and friend to the prince of the kingdom, Roland. It doesn’t take much for the powder keg to ignite, and what follows is a winding political adventure that touches on religious manipulation, manufactured fear, discrimination and the ignorance of a generation alienated from ravages of war. These themes come through in the varied combat situations; rich playable characters; and branching, player-influenced story.
At key moments in the story, you’ll find situations that force you to make a critical choice. It’s not as simple as simply selecting the appropriate text box; your party also has its own interest in the decisions. You influence party members by talking to them, sharing information you’ve learned from exploring, or reasoning with them based on their personality. The story diverges depending on who votes for you, so Triangle Strategy has surprising replay value. The story can change and pivot significantly based on these decisions, which in turn depend on what you’ve learned through the story. This gives you a surprising capacity for action, because you feel like you are establishing real relationships and making decisions for those around you.
Between combat and story scenarios, you can explore the scenic locations or watch events unfold in other regions that affect other factions. Still, the story exclusively follows Serenoa and her house, which keeps the plot concise. There’s a lot of dialogue in this story-driven game: when you’re not making decisions, you’re watching lots of cutscenes. This is especially true early in the game, when Triangle Strategy is still establishing its world and characters. This makes the pacing a bit slow, especially if you just want to move guys around on a grid. The action picks up as the plot progresses, but this slowness does not entirely dissipate.
Take up arms
Conflict is inevitable, and once the wheels of war begin to turn, Serenoa and her team must navigate increasingly difficult and dangerous skirmishes to progress. Combat is a standard turn-based affair, at first glance. You can take 10 units into battle, configure their position on the map and use their special attacks and abilities to eliminate the enemy threat. The grid-based maps are reminiscent of the maps you find in Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem. Triangle Strategy shakes things up by adding additional layers of mechanics to this standard combat framework, while also giving you a suite of tools to create enlightened stratagems on the fly, making encounters thoroughly engaging and addictive, yet still devilishly difficult.
Triangle Strategy offers a simulation mode at the start of the round. This allows you to play moves without committing to them, so you can see the damage they will do. Like Fire Emblem, Triangle Strategy has brightly colored grids that indicate movement and attack ranges, so you can clearly and easily see what each unit is capable of delivering in battle.
You will rely on all the classes offered by the game, thanks to the excellent gameplay balance of Triangle Strategy. Roland, for example, is a cavalry unit with excellent range. His spear attacks have a massive range that spans two tiles in front of him, essentially allowing him to hit two targets in one turn. Anna, on the other hand, is a highly mobile assassin who can scale any elevation with her special ability, backstab for critical damage, and go untargeted for multiple turns. Each unit you recruit has unique abilities and perks, and all of them are incredibly useful.
Unique terrain features enrich combat. Height gives units an attack advantage, so archers who rain down arrows from above are incredibly powerful. Special abilities can create unique combos or environmental hazards. For example, you can set a tile on fire with fire magic, then trigger a wind-based ability or spell to spread the fire in your favor. There are many combinations like this in the game, which really opens up the strategy.
Triangle Strategy is generous with information. Hovering over a tile shows which enemies can attack it, for example, minimizing the chances of a stubborn decision that could cost you the unit, or potentially the battle. The game even suggests party members to take with you into battle and lets you buy supplies or rank up units before heading into a proper battle. These are wonderful and very practical advantages, but they do not diminish the overall challenge.
As your roster and abilities grow, so do the challenges each scenario presents. A fight might limit you to a heavy platforming stage with spike-riddled traps, for example. A later step may land you on a set of highly flammable tiles. Another can put you in a tough battle, where you fight a gauntlet of enemies as you make your way to the top. The combat experience is excellent. The only real missed opportunity is the lack of touchscreen controls. As a Nintendo Switch title, I wish it had selected and moved units with the touchpad when playing the game undocked. Triangle Strategy is fine without them, but the feature would be extremely handy when playing on the go.
Classic visuals, modern aesthetic
I’m a big fan of the high definition 2D look used by Triangle Strategy, already seen in Octopath Traveler. The sets are packed with detail, despite their seemingly pixelated facade. Each colorful diorama has eye-catching visuals to match the deliberately dated sprite work, like the soft glow of light from windows at night, the shimmer of running water, or the slight flutter of fabric in the wind.
Likewise, the music is fantastic and dynamic, to boot. The orchestral score matches the flow of battle, so it’s triumphant and upbeat when you’re in the lead, and much more dramatic and dire when the going’s dark.
Triangle Strategy runs at 30 frames per second on Nintendo Switch, and the frame rate remains fairly consistent throughout the game. but this is not too frequent, fortunately.
A winning strategy
Triangle Strategy is an engaging strategy RPG with top-notch combat, an engaging story, and a huge cast of characters to familiarize yourself with as you determine the fate of Norzelia. The story scenes and dialogue-heavy interludes can slow the pace of the game, which can make the game feel like a drag if you’re not enthralled with the plot. On the other hand, if you’re engrossed in the story, the decision-driven plot and excellent characterization are a huge plus. Combined with excellent combat mechanics and charming visuals, Triangle Strategy delivers a winning formula and easily stands alongside established franchises such as Fire Emblem, Disgaea, and Final Fantasy Tactics.
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Triangle Strategy (for Nintendo Switch)
Triangle Strategy is an outstanding tactical RPG that masterfully blends story-driven decision-making with polished fantasy and strategic elements, making it a must-play game for fans of the genre.
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