You’ve got to respect whoever’s on naming duty at Square Enix right now.
If you thought Octopath Traveller was odd and unconventional, then Triangle Strategy definitely piques the curiosity even further.
Despite their familiar aesthetics, however, both games are largely different. In Octopath, you could choose the journey you went on in an order that worked best for you, exploring an overworld while allowing the story to naturally link up together over the course of hours.
Triangle Strategy is much more focused on top-down, turn-based combat that lets you map out your moves strategically and position units accordingly, all conjoined by one large overarching arc with the option for some side story.
Octopath might seem like a more conventional Square Enix JRPG, then, whereas Triangle Strategy bears a much closer resemblance to the brilliant Fire Emblem series, particularly Three Houses which recently hit Switch.
Reason being, there are three houses right at the heart of this game’s story as well, each with a duty to the crown and preserving the land they all share.
The story begins right in the middle of them all when two sworn betrothed – Serenoa and Frederica – each of a different house, accidentally find themselves fighting alongside each other against a group of brigands.
Their marriage is intended to strengthen the alliance in place, furthering peace between the nations where there has been some unrest in recent years. Of course, there are forces conspiring against the two, making things easier said than done.
Both also find themselves fighting alongside allies with their own interesting stories and allegiances, like an heir to the throne and a wise steward.
Each character plays very differently, with some best-suited to front-line combat using swords and lances, others more suited to back-row with bows and magic spells. Positioning before the battle even starts will be vital before you even land the first blow. The game throws out recomendations, both the units you should use and where you should place them, but it’s not always the best course.
I did often find I was mostly under levelled before attempting the main quests, fortunately you can visit the tavern in order to have some mock battles that boost XP.
In the seeming absence of a full-fledged new Fire Emblem game this year, Triangle Strategy certainly fills the void and then some. Characters earn XP for every action, new moves are added over time and they can even be promoted to Elite guardians, specializing in a new type of field.
What’s more, you can add new members to your party over time with new character stories popping up on the map during each chapter. They are entirely optional and can be missed, but in so doing you’d really be missing out on some of the best characters in the game, like a powerful Sage called Narve and a barrel automaton known as Decimal.
As you can see, Triangle Strategy isn’t afraid to loosen the shackles on its rather serious, Shakespearean esque story, though it definitely starts off a bit wooden with some of the dialogue overly wordy and some acting performances going a bit flat. If you’ve played the Prologue demo already, you’ll probably know what I mean. Fortunately, that caps off before the game gets really good, so you’ve really only scratched the surface of this beautiful, deep world.
It’s a showcase Square Enix RPG, through and through. A reminder of how good their games can be – even if recent weeks have alluded to the contrary.
In addition to earning coin and items to buy the resources you need to smithy your weapons for improved effect and items to stave off negative effects, you can also earn Kudos during battle. These are rewarded for the types of strategies you employ on the battlefield, like using the high ground to attack an enemy or stabbing them from behind. Kudos can then be spent at a tradepost to purchase unique, one-of-a-kind items, as well as notes on game lore so you can increase your understanding of the story.
There’s lots of little notes to find, sub-plots to play through, and thoughts to obtain by chatting to people at the right moments so you can broaden your understanding and ensure you fulfill your duties to the full. The thoughts can even be brought into future conversations, unlocked to provide an additional piece of insight at a critical moment.
Triangle Strategy, as you might expect, is full of twists and turns. The story goes to places that will shock you, some of your favorite characters may not make it all the way to the end, and your actions do actually shape the nature of the story based on the responses you provide at key moments.
The game is about balance and restoring it, so there’ll be occasions where you need to make big decisions and your team will vote to determine which direction you head in. Fortunately, you can converse with everyone to help them see your way of thinking, but whether they listen to you will hinge on whether they respect you as a leader or the way you’ve treated that character over the course of the game.
The overall flow of the game also works out like an interactive picture book. You start out by scanning the wider map, either looking for Red or Green Objectives, then you’ll be transported to a cut scene which you can either set up so dialogue automatically skips by or you have to press through each conversation piece.
From there, you’ll either find yourself heading into a battle or one of the game’s investigation screens where you’ll search for clues, chat to people and even find nice items that will help you out in a pinch. From a flow perspective, it works well, but it can feel a bit constraining and limited compared to what you might be used to from other RPGs.
The world is so rich that you’ll want to spend the time properly exploring it, checking out every nook and cranny, discovering the finer secrets of each region. But everything is mostly confined to the scenes as the game’s intent is more on developing character and moving on the story.
But that story is very strong and the cast of characters are mostly an interesting bunch. That, combined with the excellent Fire Emblem esque combat, really make the case for Triangle Strategy positioning itself as another must-have Switch title and already the best RPG this year, outside of Elden Ring, of course.
The ability to rotate the camera throughout is sometimes more of a curse than a blessing as it can throw you off, particularly when you’re trying to find an enemy that’s hidden itself out of view. The lag is often quite noticeable when panning around and there is also some slowdown during battle on occasion.
None of it is enough to detract from the overall experience though, and you’ll find yourself losing hours to the game, unable to put it down because you want to play through one more chapter. Like a very good book, basically.
Triangle Strategy is one of the best RPGs Square Enix have put out in years. It’s far superior to Octopath Traveller in terms of its story and flow, and is yet another must-have Nintendo Switch game in 2022. There are so many hours of gameplay here, most of them are memorable and enjoyable. Despite some technical hitches, and a few scenes that do go on for a bit too long, you’ll be blessed with a solid cast of characters, an enriching world you’ll be eager to explore, and a level of strategizing that is just as good as Nintendo’s own Fire Emblem. Unmissable.
+ An engaging story in an enriching world
+ Great cast of characters
+ Turn-based combat mostly works brilliantly
+ Plenty of sub-stories and additional characters to freshen things up throughout
– Some scenes do go on a bit
– Camera panning can be disruptive
– Some lag during movement and battle
Triangle Strategy is now available on Nintendo Switch
Code Kindly Provided by Nintendo