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"Triangle Strategy" Review

Victor has been playing video games for a long time, and enjoys sharing his knowledge and experiences to help other players.

Triangle Strategy looks like a typical wartime story on the surface, with gameplay similar to Final Fantasy Tactics. As you begin to dive deeper, you will uncover a story with its own themes and nuances about war, supported by strong gameplay that encourages tactical thinking instead of blindly rushing head-first into combat. It isn’t perfect, but the combination of powerful storytelling and strategic gameplay comes away with more positives than negatives.

Triangle Strategy is a strategy RPG that puts you in the shoes of Serenoa Wolffort, the newly appointed lord of his region in the continent of Norzelia. You will follow Serenoa as he navigates a fragile peace between three nations after a 30-year war, and the inevitable clashes that come when the peace everyone longed for was more fragile than expected.

The game takes a while to start, as you are introduced to the story and the cast of characters. The story invests a significant amount of time establishing the setting of Norzelia, but it does pay off when you fully understand the weight of your decisions and the consequences of your actions.

An Engaging Wartime Story With Dramatic and Emotional Moments

Part of the story’s pacing comes from introducing the characters and their relationship with each other. Serenoa is one of three lords in the nation of Glenbrook, and he is to be married to Frederica from the nation of Aesfrost to foster closer relations between the two nations.

You are also introduced to other members of the cast, such as House Wolffort tactician Benedict and 2nd prince of Glenbrook (as well as Serenoa’s best friend) Roland. The constant introductions of new members of the cast can start to get frustrating, especially because it feels like you’re just recruiting members of your team.

But this is the story taking care to build proper foundations and understanding of Norzelia’s current situation. Eventually the story starts to delve into heavy and powerful topics such as resource shortage, war-time decision making and the difficulties of actually assisting a nation in need.

It isn’t just the resemblance to current world events that resonates with players, but being in a situation where one doesn’t have the luxury of picking an “optimal” choice really hammers home the uncomfortable situation and adds to the stakes.

This is reinforced with the voting sessions that influence the direction of the story. House Wolffort will encounter a number of tough decisions and whatever action you take is determined by how your allies vote, with the player having the responsibility of persuading allies to change their vote if they want a different outcome.

Voting isn't as clear-cut as it seems, and you will have to persuade some allies to switch their positions.

Voting isn't as clear-cut as it seems, and you will have to persuade some allies to switch their positions.

Everyone has their own opinions, whether they support one decision or remain undecided. While it might seem like there are clear answers, listening to everyone makes you realize that what may seem like the morally correct option can have consequences that you can’t afford.

The story isn’t diverse enough to explore the consequences of every single voting outcome, as the primary difference between decisions is often down to the battles that you fight. However, the voting still pushes the emotional aspect of the story as you try to persuade your allies with arguments for or against a desired vote.

While the story does develop slowly at the beginning and it can sometimes feel like your votes aren’t that significant, once the proper foundations are established, you have a powerful story about a young lord fighting for survival and ultimately the best path forward for Norzelia.

The story is just one part of Triangle Strategy, as combat plays another big role. As a story taking place during a fragile peace, it is inevitable that battles will break out. Triangle Strategy’s combat forces you to actually plan and strategize, instead of blindly rushing into battle.

Combat Has a Large Strategic Element, Giving Players a Challenge

When you start a battle, you are often fighting against a larger army who have a number of advantages over you (i.e., terrain, positioning). Your first instinct is to rush in and start attacking, but this can often lead to a quick defeat as your enemy will easily recover from any superficial damage that you did.

When you fight, you have to think about who would be a good choice to bring along, as well as your current party composition, their skills and upgrades. You also need to look at your surroundings, as well as the enemies that you are going to encounter.

Running into battle without a plan leads to KO'ed characters who don't make an impact.

Running into battle without a plan leads to KO'ed characters who don't make an impact.

You have a roster of characters that are in strict roles. For example, Serenoa is strictly a swordsman, while Frederica is a spellcaster. Characters never get the chance to change jobs or switch proficiencies, which can feel limiting or annoying since you have to wait for a character to actually appear before you can fill a role in your team.

Those limitations do force you to think about who you should and shouldn’t bring along, as well as the strategy that you want to employ. It isn’t just about people who look effective, but people who can properly support each other as the battle moves past the early stages.

Emphasizing strategy over power also gives each unit time in the spotlight. Many units have their own unique skills, which can serve you well on the battlefield. You might find a strategy that someone else has used, only to come up with your own combination of units that gives you the victory.

While it can feel frustrating to constantly be outnumbered, needing to plan for every battle and experiment frequently, it is rewarding when you finally manage to win a battle knowing that you won because you actually put in the hard work to win.

Triangle Strategy’s story and battles are amazing to work with and make the game enjoyable. However, one big flaw is how the game manages one of its larger concepts: convictions.

Convictions Feel Unnecessarily Complicated and Vague When They Don’t Need to Be

A big part of Triangle Strategy is building convictions in three categories: Liberty, Morality, and Utility. You will always have some development in all three conviction categories, though your actions will determine which conviction you lean towards.

Convictions don’t affect the battlefield per se, but they do affect areas such as recruiting new units (who only join if your conviction values in certain categories hit a certain threshold) or persuading allies (who can be more/less receptive to your arguments and positions if your convictions lean in certain directions).

While it can be nice to ignore the values and play through the game without looking at a guide, it feels like the conviction mechanic is left vague and opaque for reasons that don’t make much sense.

Knowing what actions contribute to a specific conviction, as well as what conversation options are aligned with a certain conviction, would certainly help inform a player’s decision. Knowing what values are needed to recruit a new unit or which conviction category an ally leans towards would be invaluable for knowing whether you can/can’t persuade someone.

Could I have changed his mind? I won't know, because I don't know if it was ever possible, despite what the tutorial says.

Could I have changed his mind? I won't know, because I don't know if it was ever possible, despite what the tutorial says.

These values are made clear through a New Game Plus, but there isn’t any good reason why the values are kept vague, or why you shouldn’t have access to the information. You can sometimes trap yourself in a voting situation you don’t like because you aren’t aware of how the convictions work, or miss out on units because you don’t know why other players managed to recruit them.

Having that transparency early on would be a significant boon to the player, and it wouldn’t ruin any additional details. By not having that transparency, it makes it less likely for a player to want to return for a New Game Plus, as they feel they have no choice in how they play the game.

But even with the hidden conviction values and other flaws, Triangle Strategy offers enough content that is able to cover for those downsides, with a good balance that makes it a game to remember.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • Great story that really puts the player in charge of making tough decisions
  • Combat that makes you think and gives you a rewarding feeling when you succeed
  • Convictions give every player a different experience, allowing you to share your experiences with friends

Cons:

  • Story takes some time to get going, and that can put players off
  • You don’t have much customization in combat and it isn’t always simple
  • There’s no good reason to hide the conviction values from a new player

Triangle Strategy isn’t perfect, and it takes some bold steps in some directions. Some risks paid off while others can sometimes work against the game itself.

However, the blend of an emotional wartime story with thrilling battles is sure to please any strategy RPG fan. While it may not be the next Final Fantasy Tactics or the best strategy RPG of all time, you would be hard pressed to find a game that blends story and battles as well as Triangle Strategy does.

© 2022 Victor Tan