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It’s no secret here on the GAMINGbible team that I really loved Triangle Strategy. Although it’s not quite managed to clutch out the title of my “game of the year so far” thanks to my massive Pokémon bias, I still have no doubt that it’s going to be up there in my final rankings even by the time December rolls around. To quote myself (which seems unnecessary, but let’s go with it), “Triangle Strategy is a must-have for anyone who enjoys a good tactical RPG, pretty visuals, or a choice-based story which makes your decisions actually matter.”
One thing to note about this gorgeous HD-2D gem is just how much content there is in it. Which, you know, when the content is good (which it is) you wouldn’t think could even remotely be a bad thing. However, somehow, and despite all my praise, I would argue that Square Enix found a way, and it’s such a massive shame.
Before we get into it, be sure to check out the trailer for Triangle Strategy below.
As previously mentioned in my little review quote, the thing that makes Triangle Strategy a bit different from your usual run-of-the-mill strategy game is how choice-based the entire thing is. As well as its “convictions” system, which is influenced by the dialogue choices you make throughout the plot, and affects the units you recruit, there’s also bigger decisions which you and your party vote on, which determine a whole host of big story points.
The result of this is that there’s a lot of variation in what many of the chapters can bring, and it’s not even a case of just having two options per chapter - the story really branches out at points, which you can track on your “Path Travelled” menu. One choice can send you down a sprawling path onto yet more choices, which you wouldn’t have been faced with if not for your previous decisions. I genuinely couldn’t even tell you how many different chapters there must be to experience. Sounds great, right? Well, not exactly.
The first time I saw the credits roll in Triangle Strategy, and saw the words “New Game+” pop up on my screen, I thought I knew exactly what this would consist of. Surely, there must be some way to more easily access all those chapters you missed, right? The Path Travelled - which until now existed solely to give you a little reminder of the story events you did experience - seemed like the perfect way to allow you to jump between story events, allowing players to go back to a chapter’s voting section and get a different outcome. I was wrong.
Unfortunately, the only way to experience all the chapters is to play the whole thing over and over again. You wouldn’t think that’d be such a bad thing if so many of the chapters are so different, but you still spend a lot of time on a “main path” of sorts - even with a very effective dialogue speed-up button, there’s still a lot of battles you’ll have to complete every time. Not only that, but thanks to a combination of the story branching, and some choices having more than two options, it’s never going to be just one more playthrough - completionists really have to be in it for the long haul.
Making a multitude of save files at different points in the journey would be the quickest way to get through everything, but it’ll be messy, complicated to keep track of, and a massive amount of hassle. Doing this would also mean you can’t fill out the Path Travelled in its entirety, if that sort of thing bothers you - I know it bothers me. I don’t know about you, but the idea of sitting through the same thing for so many hours just doesn’t sound fun to me, and the fact that there’s no way to skip this altogether baffles me.
Is this a ‘me’ problem? Maybe. I feel like I personally fall somewhere in between your average player who’ll just aim to complete a game’s main story, and a hardcore completionist who wants to experience everything. Going for 100% in a title I love scratches an itch in my brain that only video games can, but at the same time, I can only find the motivation to do that if that feels like a reasonable, enjoyable achievement to go for, and if doing it will continue to offer a fun, varied experience, just for a longer length of time. Spending so many hours retreading the same ground, trawling through the same stuff to see something new isn’t something I’d actively want to do, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way.
It just feels like such a waste that the vast majority of players aren’t going to experience all that the game actually has to offer, because all of its content is stellar, and it’d have only taken one small change to make it so much more accessible to casual players who don’t have all the time or the desire to pour so many extra hours in to discover all its secrets. You could definitely argue here that this serves as a nice bonus for anyone willing to put in that much effort, but as someone with increasingly less time to dedicate to a single, albeit amazing, title (thanks, adult life), I’d have massively appreciated a simple option to bypass all that. Again, I love Triangle Strategy, I just wish Square Enix would have made it easier for me to love it even more.
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