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The strategy RPG genre is one that’s sat in fairly quiet solitude on the Switch, basically ever since the console’s launch. Sure, there’s games there if you want to dig into the depths of the eShop to find them, but as far as big name titles go, I’d be surprised if off the top of your head you were able to name many beyond Fire Emblem: Three Houses, the Valkyria Chronicles series, and Chucklefish’s oh-so-charming Wargroove.
So then, that’s where Triangle Strategy comes in - the latest in the line of Square Enix’s very cryptically named RPGs, marching in to fill a gap in that rather unpopulated genre. Don’t be fooled, though - this is no follow up to Octopath Traveler, although it manages to harness much of the 2018 release’s very best attributes, only repackaged in a whole new way.
Before we go on, be sure to check out the trailer for Triangle Strategy below.
The beginning of the game introduces you to Serenoa Wolffort (our main, sword-wielding protagonist and heir to House Wolffort) his bride to be, Frederica Aesfrost, and best friend Roland Glenbrook, who’s second in line to the Glenbrook’s throne. There’s a whole bunch of other characters and other places too, but these three are our main gang of important characters, and I fear listing all the others here could scare you off.
Unfortunately, that’s something that the first few hours of the game itself are slightly guilty of. The Prologue Demo, which lets you get your hands on the first three chapters, is absolutely swamped with dialogue, names, and references to in-game politics, which obviously mean very little to the player, who’s essentially a complete stranger to this fantasy world. The first two chapters specifically are heavy with this - at one point, a few hours in, I realised it had been well over an hour since I’d been able to play any of the actual strategy gameplay, and all I wanted to do was get back to that.
Obviously, this is all setting the scene and giving you background information for the overarching plot, which, just going off of the content in the Demo period alone, is clearly setting itself up to be something really grand. It just felt as if it could have been spread out a little better - it’s definitely teetering on being an information overload - although this does improve significantly by the end of the second chapter, and throughout the third, so don’t let it put you off.
Speaking of the strategy gameplay though, it’s really good, and definitely what had me the most hooked throughout this preview window. As you’d expect, since the Prologue Demo only covers the start of the game, the story maps you get to try out are undoubtedly on the more simplistic side, but they still give you a taste of how interesting the gameplay is as a result of them being multi-tiered. Gaining the high ground rewards your units with increased strength and range, but equally, the same can be used against you if the enemy gets there first. Battles are made even more exciting with the dynamic turn-based gameplay - each individual unit (both on your team and the enemy’s) gets a turn determined by their speed, rather than a more simplistic ‘player phase/enemy phase’ system from the likes of the Fire Emblem franchise.
Perhaps most notably, the Prologue Demo also gives us a glimpse into the “conviction” system, which has underlined most of the game’s advertising, and will undoubtedly be a draw for many. Serenoa is constantly asked his thoughts on various things during different dialogue exchanges, and the answers you give help shape his convictions towards Utility, Morality or Liberty - invisible parameters that impact our protagonist’s worldview, and influence which characters will join your party.
While the Demo understandably doesn’t go deep enough into the game to experience the full impact of these convictions, the third chapter gives you your first taste of the more ‘concrete’ decision making present in the game, in which you and your party will vote on a matter, and take different action depending on how that vote goes. Without going into spoilers, this third chapter can play out very differently depending on the choice you make, influencing the beginnings of what seems to be a very malleable, unique adventure.
So then, overall, is it looking good? Yes, absolutely. I’ll be honest, I found the onslaught of dialogue (although voice acted very well) quite overwhelming at the start, and that’s coming from someone who really values a game’s plot. But, this pacing settled down by the end of the preview window, and that strategy gameplay that sits at the heart of Triangle Strategy had me craving more from the moment I first got my hands on it. This, combined with the stunning HD-2D visuals and a breathtaking musical score, add up to the beginnings of something which, even from the first few chapters, is looking incredibly promising, and I think you should be very excited.
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