For fans of the critically acclaimed Final Fantasy Tactics, it has been years of hoping for a proper modern treatment that has come to nothing. However, with the release of Artdink’s Triangle Strategy, it seems that our prayers have been answered somewhat with this latest tactical RPG.
With the help of both Nintendo and Square Enix of course.
Thrusting players into the continent of Norzelia, where the countries of Glenbrook, Aesfrost, and Hyzante reside on a delicate measure of peace. A sudden invasion gives rise to intense conflict, and as protagonist Serenoa Wollfort and his crew, it is up to you to restore peace and help chart the future direction of Norzelia as representatives of House Wolffort, the premier military force in Glenbrook.
While it appears to be a traditional setup of conflict and resolution, Triangle Strategy shines best in giving players the agency to accompany their strategic nous. Tough decisions need to be made amidst the power struggles and political workings, and the consequences will be evident for Norzelia, the story, and your comrades.
When the time calls for a pivotal decision, the Scales of Conviction come into play. Essentially, every character will have his or her say for the next course of action in conflict resolution, and while things start off relatively safe, it does not take long before players will start questioning themselves on what is considered right or wrong in their present context. Making decisions has never been harder, and ensuring that others see it your way is another challenge to overcome.
Party members come with their own convictions and beliefs, and should yours differ, you will need to find a way to convince them otherwise. Triangle Strategy helps create such windows of opportunity using exploration areas in between conflicts, giving you the chance to talk to others and learn more about the world and the battles that go on. This helps to flesh out the lore of Norzelia, but also unlocks potential dialogue choices that can swing things your way.
This combination of storytelling and worldbuilding is already excellent, but also having its impact on the gameplay makes everything you choose to do more weight. Rather than feeling like unnecessary filler dialogue or content, this allows the game to be even more worthy of investing the time and effort to evaluate your options and power ahead.
You should be prepared for multiple playthroughs of Triangle Strategy, with different decisions opening up other paths that can lead to something new. New Game+ is not just about experiencing the excellent story again, but also to enlighten players to new perspectives that can arise from making other choices.
Outside of the talking, there are also conflicts to be resolved on the battlefield in Triangle Strategy. While the game is definitely a tactical RPG, it delivers gameplay that is more intuitive and streamlined, rather than overly complex. Units need to be moved across the grid, participating in attacks and defending themselves from the enemy.
The positioning of your units needs to be taken into account, giving players more food for thought every time you clash with the enemy. Higher ground offers increased damage, while attacking an enemy from behind always ensures critical damage, and if you can surround an unfortunate foe, they can be teamed up on with additional attacks.
And if you find yourself in a suitable environment, it can become an invaluable advantage as well. Water puddles are conduits for electrical damage, while setting areas on fire will damage any units that pass through them. In fact, players can manipulate the terrain to a certain extent, such as creating puddles through melting frozen squares with a fire spell, and creating their own tactical advantage. The possibilities help lend another layer of depth to the proceedings, and makes Triangle Strategy an even more fun affair.
It is also a beautiful game to marvel at, both inside and outside of battle. The HD 2D style pops vibrantly, and the variety of places you will visit are always interesting, with enough details to transport players to the world of Norzelia. Even on handheld mode, everything is clear and easy to read, which is an actual achievement by the studio that not many can attain.
The streamlined nature of the game also extends to the progression of your party, which can be a blessing for those not into the minutia of min-maxing. There are no multiple job paths here, with materials collected used to upgrade equipment and abilities as the main indication of progress.
This will obviously be disappointing for those looking for a more involved experience, but the game does strike a nice balance by giving you more say when it comes to making the big decisions that inform the conflicts in the first place.
Like many other modern RPG titles, the more you use certain units in battle, the more likely their stories will get filled out with special cutscenes that educate and inform. It is a nice touch, especially for the more well-developed characters, and helps players to appreciate the entire team even more in tough times.
And you will definitely get to see those cutscenes, considering the fact that you need to keep your units sufficiently levelled up for the tougher battles in Triangle Strategy. It is likely that players will rely on a core group of units, but when they are unavailable, the last thing you need is to be caught with a weak team that is unable to put up a fight.
There is no running away from the grind if you are looking to have a well-balanced roster of units at the right level, although the situation is helped by the abovementioned streamlining of gameplay during battles.
Another potential issue that can grate on the ears is the English voice-acting in the game, with flat delivery and oftentimes poor quality. This is not what one would expect from a Square Enix and Nintendo affair, but the proof is in the pudding. Thankfully, the choice to switch to the Japanese voice track is there, so you have been warned.
Comparing Triangle Strategy to the beloved Final Fantasy Tactics is not exactly fair, but that is not to say that Artdink’s creation is lacking in any way. This is a fun, tactical experience that boasts a narrative that warrants multiple run-throughs, made better by intriguing characters and a world full of potential. Grinding and lacklustre voice-acting aside, anyone who loves strategy and tactics-based experience must definitely give Triangle Strategy a shot.
Triangle Strategy is available on the Nintendo Switch for US$59.99.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
A great effort by Artdink, Triangle Strategy delivers a satisfying mix of strategic battles and excellent worldbuilding and characters that serve to draw the player into a world brimming with quality.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 9/10
Presentation - 8.5/10
Value - 9/10