Triangle Strategy Review – IGN

Triangle Strategy begins slowly. You will be presented with a series unappealing events when you press “New Game”. Your character Serenoa Wolffort and his boring retainers are introduced. The narration focuses on the history of a fantasy country whose most striking feature is the lack of salt. You are introduced to character after character in cutscenes that provide little context. You barely have to actually do anything, with the exception of a simple intro battle – and that battle system lacks an obvious hook. The interface is awkward and frustrating, with only the amazing pixel art keeping it motivated. Despite its slow start, it grows into one of most entertaining and effective tactical RPGs.

Don’t worry – this is not one of those “it gets amazing after the first two dozen terrible hours” kinds of JRPGs. Nearly every aspect of the frustrating start is gone, some problems disappear almost immediately. The game's slow confidence is a virtue. The scene's simplicity becomes a very human, tense political drama. An overwhelming number of characters makes it a fertile ground for intrigue. Major characters can be eliminated when the story turns violent, while minor characters take their place. It gradually reveals a system in which expressing beliefs, obtaining information and understanding the relationships between characters all become crucial. Combat is never complicated, but it feels perfect. And the main character….well, the main character just always makes Jon Snow look exciting by comparison. We're sorry.

Triangle Strategy's first impressive standout is its two-dimensional character-pixel art, which exists in a flexible and three-dimensional universe. It’s the hallmark of Tomoya Asano, who also worked as a producer on the similarly impressive Octopath Traveler. It is amazing to be able zoom in and out, rotate the camera, and tilt the camera from a top-down to an isometric view all while keeping it consistent and clear. Although it looks great on TV mode and handheld on Switch, I preferred the latter as the characters seemed to pop better on the small screen. Also, and especially important for a word-and-number-heavy RPG, I was able easily to read all of the text on both the Switch and on a smaller television.

Game of Triangles

This is a very story-heavy game, so it's important that you start with the setting and plot. While magic is found on Norzelia, it is more of a tool than a power that can change the world. The characters are fighting for political power and resources. Three states competed for iron and salt control, but a new joint miner's project is a symbol of peace. Things go terribly, and everyone gets into a new round of fighting.

It is refreshing to play a game that focuses on political machinations of humans.

Although the grounded human story of ambition and resources may not sound very exciting, in a genre filled with ancient gods or mad mages threatening to destroy their worlds, it is refreshing to see a game that focuses on human political machinations. I loved a character who was powerful and compassionate. Then they were ordered to go to war on some good guys. However, as they realized just how much they'd fallen into brutality, they started a path of redemption. It'd be unfair, but easy, to draw a comparison between Triangle Strategy and Game of Thrones in many different ways.

However, Triangle Strategy's main characters are all too similar and suffer. His young friend Prince Roland, his best friend, Frederica, his advisor Benedict and the young Lord Serenoa are kind, responsible and excruciatingly nice. It is painfulThey are polite and courteous at all times. They aren't known for having any innate maladjustments and don't swear or lose their temper. Flashbacks are shown for some older characters, which show their rebellious youth. What rebelliousness! It is almost surprising to find a main character so boring in a genre that features such memorable characters as Persona, Final Fantasy, Fire Emblem or Persona.

It is almost surprising to see a group of main characters so aggressively boring.

Triangle Strategy has other strengths that can mitigate this weakness. First, the plot they participate in ends up stressing them out enough that a personality starts to show through, even if it is still universally positive and responsible – like Frederica's intense need for justice or Roland's love for his family. The Scales of Conviction system is even more important. It allows House Wolffort to face a difficult choice and instead of asking for us to make it through Serenoa without much thought, all seven members of the main party discuss it and vote on it. They are binding and can change your mind. As time passes, the votes become more important to the future of both Norzelia's characters and their fate. The higher stakes make the differences in character motivations stand out more, even if they remain – again – excruciatingly polite and rational throughout.

Triangle Strategy Gallery

There are several options to influence the vote. A few exploration steps can help you gather useful information. Knowing that Wolffort village is full of traps could make the idea of an invasion more appealing. It is also possible to choose dialogue options that correspond with the character's emotions. For example, knowing that Benedict is pragmatic can make it easier for him to accept those options, while Roland prefers loyalty. Based on his dialogue choices, Sereoa also has “Convictions”, which are stats in Utility, Morality, or Liberty that can be used to strengthen his arguments. In my campaign, I had focused on being kind & honest. However, this led to difficulties when I tried to decide whether to accept a corrupt offer. All of my retainers voted to be honest and expose corruption immediately.

One campaign had me focusing on honesty and kindness, which caused problems.

Your choices can be expressed through the voting and Conviction systems. You can subtly direct Serenoa along certain paths by combining your dialogue and combat actions. This allows you to unlock side characters or flashbacks for Serenoa. Julio, my honest, anti-corruption support role, was one of the best I had. Julio helped me to keep my mages casting their spells without any breaks. The downside is that the Conviction system was hidden for the entire first playthrough. This caused me some confusion about whether I was supposed know what was going on. Relaxing and letting the campaign unfold as it does proved to be a better way to play.

The choice system can be utilized in a number of crucial ways. One of the minor characteristics of Triangle Strategy is the inclusion of a oppressed group called the Roselle. This was because their historical and religious oppression felt directly inspired by the history and practices of the Jewish people. (Real history of oppressed people getting a slightly fantastical mask can lead to some very unpleasant and unsavory paths). Triangle Strategy gave me the chance to act to improve the lives of the Roselle, when they became relevant. The oppression of the Roselle was more than just window dressing to make the world appear darker and more realistic. It was also a storytelling opportunity. I still think the Roselle are a little weird, especially the physical trait of pink hair, but they were definitely handled a lot better than I’d feared.

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Triangle Strategy's quiet confidence is evident in its combat system. At first, it felt like a very generic tactical RPG. It grew in my admiration as I played the campaign, which was initially a very generic tactical RPG. However, it became more interesting with the level design and difficulty tuning that I have ever seen in a tactic game.

I was impressed by the level design and difficulty tuning of this game.

Combat forms are similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem and Fire Emblem. You have eight to twelve characters in your party that move around a tile-based grid. Each character has a different skill and stat: Benedict, a support class, can use skills to make your characters stronger or tougher but does very little damage; Roland, a fast-moving cavalryman, can do a lot but can't last long if isolated. It's a classic form and has held up well over time.

There are small tactical considerations in the Triangle Strategy system. For example, some spell types take more damage to enemies than others. Taking advantage of terrain and attacking from higher ground can also do more damage. These are minor features that don't add up in a combo system such as Disgaea. The goal is to create the greatest exploits possible. The progression system in Triangle Strategy doesn't allow you to create superpowered characters, like Final Fantasy Tactics. Fire Emblem has a friendship system that encourages combat options beyond just “do most damage.”

Triangle Strategy, however, has a simpler and quieter progression. Triangle Strategy offers a simpler, quieter progression. Characters become slightly stronger but not noticeably so that they can gain some temporary advantages. However, tougher enemies will also benefit from their strengths. Although you can't completely remake your characters, there are plenty of items and progression options via weapon upgrades that can modify them in significant ways. I noticed Erador, my main heavy infantry character was beginning to take significant magic damage. So I increased his magic defense to make him more resilient. Meanwhile, every time I thought I found a major advantage – like picking up the powerful archer Archibald – I watched as the enemy forces got strong enough that what I had previously thought was being overpowered became simply another useful strategy.

It's difficult to balance difficulty in the tactics genre. XCOM 2 as well as Fire Emblem 3 Houses are both great games. However, it was a frustrating task to figure out the right difficulty level for a consistent challenge. It's a high compliment to say that Triangle Strategy on the default Normal setting provided me with the exact level of difficulty I desired at nearly every turn. When I got stuck on those harder fights, there were interesting and worthwhile optional battles I could engage in to level up a bit, or else I could just experiment with changing my characters’ formation and roster. “Ah, so I could use the ice mage here and set my party up to the left instead of facing the enemy head-on, I can survive longer” is exactly the kind of tactical decisions I want to make in games such as this.

A clever level design and varied difficulty levels allow the combat system to maintain a consistent level of difficulty across all levels. In one late-game battle, I was faced with a powerful enemy force headed directly at me – an all-against-all scrum of the sort that tactics games rarely actually try to pull off. I was able to load up on archers and get them in flanking positions to help me take out as many enemies as possible. This kept the melee characters' numbers down. This happened right after a battle inside a mine. There were many mine carts which allowed quick movement around the map. It was the opposite structure. I fought in small groups to get small advantage.

Pixelated Greatness

Triangle Strategy is also up to the challenge when there is a major plot conflict. This applies both to combat design and aesthetics. The music – which is so important in this genre – is generally perfectly fine, but in some of the big battle themes it goes above and beyond, particularly with one tune that gives off a spaghetti western vibe. These fights feature some very unique dialogue between characters, which is particularly useful as the villains are often the most prominent character in the campaign.

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