Triangle Strategy review – An excellent tactical RPG that talks too much

. 4 months ago
Triangle Strategy screenshot showing Serenoa walking
Square Enix

Square Enix’s latest tactical RPG, Triangle Strategy, rewards smart play and positioning with a surprisingly nuanced story — when it can get out of its own way.

The Nintendo Switch has become somewhat of a haven for strategy games. Between first-party juggernaut Fire Emblem: Three Houses, iconic franchises like XCOM, and indie darlings like Into The Breach, it’s becoming a crowded market.

And yet, Triangle Strategy manages to stand out with a gorgeous aesthetic, irresistible soundtrack, and tough but rewarding strategy combat. While the cast of characters is certainly fun, and the game’s story grows exponentially more dramatic after a slow start, we did wish we could do a little more fighting in between the chatting.

Triangle Strategy – Key details

  • Price: $59.99/£49.99
  • Developer:  Artdink
  • Release date: March 4, 2022
  • Platforms: Nintendo Switch

Triangle Strategy trailer

Geometrically opposed

Triangle Strategy screenshot showing dialog
Square Enix
Triangle Strategy throws plenty at you in its opening hours.

Triangle Strategy takes place on the continent of Norzelia, a landmass split between three neighboring nations; Aesfrost, Glenbrook, and Hyzante. Thirty years have passed since the nations waged the “Saltiron War” for natural resources, and in that time there has been relative peace.

The leader of your party is Serenoa Wolffort, a noble lord who is set to marry Princess Frederica Aesfrost to strengthen the bonds of peace. And yet, in true videogame fashion, that’s not exactly what happens. A coup erupts, our heroes are sent on the run, and we’re tasked with uniting Norzelia as best we can.

While its story may have relatively humble beginnings, Triangle Strategy’s story does go in some interesting places. There are plenty of “sins of the father” themes throughout for characters generationally removed from the war, as well as the kind of political machinations you’d expect to see in Westeros. Of course, nothing ever gets quite so unpleasant, but there are mature themes here that it’s impossible to avoid.

Thankfully, even in its more dramatic moments, Triangle Strategy’s “HD-2D” art style is a treat. Anyone that’s spent any time in Octopath Traveler will have some idea of what to expect here — the game uses sprites for character models, with detailed but pixellated backdrops. On TV, they look great, but on the Switch OLED, these dioramas really pop — showcasing subtle details like the shimmering of water or the shadows from clouds passing overhead.

“Are we going to stand around all day? Or are we going to fight?”

Triangle Strategy screenshot showing the Scales of Conviction
Square Enix
Which way will you tip the “Scales of Conviction”?

Triangle Strategy’s story blossoms thanks to a fun cast of characters and solid localization that makes it feel closer to a storybook than Three Houses’ “young adult novel” vibe. Serenoa is, essentially, a cipher, but his childhood friend Prince Roland is fun and charismatic, while Frederica is carefree but handy with a fire spell. Voice acting is a little quaint, but there’s still plenty to enjoy.

They’re joined by plenty more as your party swells, and conversations will sway how other characters react to Serenoa’s journey via “The Scales of Conviction” — a setup that essentially maps out your choices to Liberty, Morality, or Utility. Each of these hidden metrics will have a say in how conversations go, and these feed into larger, potentially story-changing decisions where you may need to convince other party members to side with you.

While each character levels up, they’re essentially restricted to a class. For example, Geela will always be a white mage that focuses on healing (yes, that’s Geela the Healer), and Erador will always be a shieldbearer to draw aggro from enemies. That’s no bad thing, offering a stricter sense of defined character for each, but it does take away some of the fun of creating hybrid builds.

Sadly, it’d be fair to say that Triangle Strategy starts slowly. While we appreciate there’s a hefty backstory for the three regions, as well as an ever-expanding party to meet, it does feel a little on the long side.

Much of the dialog can be fast-forwarded, and there’s a handy log that’ll let you go back to prior passages, but it’s still a lot to take in. There needs to be a setup to have a payoff, though, and we’d definitely encourage sticking with Triangle Strategy through its early chapters.

The pointy end

Triangle Strategy screenshot showing combat
Square Enix
Combat is great fun in Triangle Strategy.

Unlike its spiritual predecessor, Triangle Strategy takes the form of a tactical RPG. Turns are taken by individual units, not each side, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the order below. It can be a little tricky to read when you’ve got half a dozen seemingly identical grunts to fight, but despite its HD-2D stylings, the user interface is really great at pointing out who’s at risk, what you can hit from your current position, and plenty more.

Positioning is key in combat, with extra damage dealt for attacking an enemy from behind or from above. Spellcasters can deal area-of-effect damage, while some characters, including Serenoa, can affect the turn order. There’s a premium placed on keeping your skirmishers at the front and your support units at the back, preferably on higher ground.

Most notably, striking an enemy when there’s another member of your party immediately behind them will trigger a follow-up attack. Not only is it useful, but it’s fun, too — essentially letting you box in enemies for more damage.

There’s nothing revolutionary about Triangle Strategy’s combat, but what’s here is refined and enjoyable, made even better by its visuals.

8/10

Triangle Strategy is a confident tactical RPG with plenty of depth and a winding narrative. While the first few hours can be a little slow, it quickly becomes another gem in the Switch’s strategy game crown.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch

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