Triangle Strategy Preview Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

Triangle Strategy Preview: Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

This RPG is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest surprises.

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Triangle Strategy Preview Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

Triangle Strategy made me feel like an awful person. Many games make a huge deal about the impact your decisions will have on characters and the unfolding narrative, but here the input actually feels substantial. People died due to my actions, while allegiances across a global conflict shifted and changed depending on what I believed was right. It gives this gorgeous pixel-art TRPG a level of dramatic investment I never could have expected, and for that it shines. The name is still very silly though.

After being somewhat underwhelmed by the sheer level of content and broader focus of Octopath Traveller, Triangle Strategy feels like a more mature, nuanced tale that encapsulates classical fantasy tropes with a level of melodrama that feels equal parts Final Fantasy and Game of Thrones. While the continent of Norzelia is rife with magical spells and mythical creatures, the people who call it home are subject to societal struggles that are far too real. Games in this genre often feel outlandish, so this is no small achievement.

The land consists of three kingdoms – Glenbrook, Aesfrost, and Hyzante – all of which are living in a state of peace despite an ongoing struggle over the resources of salt and iron. The land is a powder keg waiting to explode, and a joint mining venture between neighbouring city states is the match that nefarious forces have been waiting for. Protagonist Seronoa Wolffort hails from Glenbrook, belonging to a major house that has forever been loyal to the throne. With his father growing ill, he’s entrusted with the house chair just as his betrothed, Frederica Aesfrost, arrives from the neighbouring kingdom to prepare for the wedding.

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Triangle Strategy Preview Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

While I can’t delve too deeply into the narrative as part of this preview, I can say that Triangle Strategy does an excellent job of introducing its cast of characters while making them matter. Serenoa is far too young for the post he’s been appointed but will do anything for his people, while Frederica is walking into a relationship amidst a nation who views her people with a level of racial hate that is often vitriolic. Other characters like Roland also shine, a prince who resents the people dying in the face of his own protection. The crown weighs heavy, and the game isn’t afraid to force difficult decisions upon you. You will learn to love all of these people, even if the English voice acting has a habit of veering into pantomime territory. Serenoa is particularly awful, to the point where I found myself guffawing at the screen as lines were delivered with the enthusiasm of a plasticine potato.

This mixed delivery doesn’t really matter though, it’s consistent enough that the more dramatic moments strike with an execution that carries the weight of kingdoms collapsing and betrayals stinging like a well-placed dagger in the back. Given all the characters are depicted by 2D portraits and a lump of pixels, this is a real testament to the excellent writing and Tomoya Asano’s desire to tell a more mature story that wasn’t possible in Bravely Default or Octopath Traveller. It’s badass, and I can’t wait to see where the narrative goes and if the weight of my decisions will continue to make a noticeable difference. Since right now, I’ve made a handful of choices that have me curious to tackle a second playthrough.

Triangle Strategy Preview Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

Triangle Strategy’s gameplay is rather strategic (*gasp*) and will be familiar to anyone who has dabbled with Final Fantasy Tactics, Advance Wars, or anything in the TRPG genre. It understands why people are drawn to this type of game and seeks to replicate that success, yet also makes a number of welcome mechanical changes I’d now struggle to live without. When moving a unit, you will be notified of which spaces will ensure you are safe from enemy attacks and which put you in danger.

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You will need to venture closer to your adversaries to deal damage and win the day, but sometimes it will be wiser to stay back and allow them to advance instead, taking time to apply buffs and formulate a more considerate strategy. Backstabbing opponents or executing an attack when an ally sits on the opposing side will result in a combo that deals additional damage, which also takes into account ranged attacks, so the placement of units becomes increasingly important as you move forward. Each character has a special talent, such as being able to use two commands in a single turn or the ability to apply items at an extended range. You will want a varied mixture across all of your deployed units that guarantee a level of synergy that benefits your team and counters the enemy.

Triangle Strategy Preview Final Fantasy Tactics Meets Game of Thrones

Outside of battle Triangle Strategy will occasionally give you a chance to explore contained environments where you can speak to NPCs in a pursuit to gather knowledge and make decisions that will determine your conviction as a ruler. Serenoa’s wider standing will seemingly have huge narrative consequences, so making the right choices even in minute circumstances means the world. This meant I spent ages combing over each environment before returning to the Encampment, which is basically a hub area where merchants and other characters gather for a chat or to sell you goodies. Optional battles are also available courtesy of the barkeep, offering a way to earn experience outside the main campaign.

I’ve talked a lot about decisions, but all of your smaller actions come to roost when faced with the Scales of Conviction. Because a competent system of government doesn’t mean much in Norzelia, rulers turn to a glorified kitchen scale to make major decisions that could determine the life or death of an entire kingdom. Each major character has a vote to cast, and you will frequently be thrown into situations where you will need to engage in dialogue to convince allies to join whatever cause you believe to be right. I can’t talk about exact situations as part of the preview, but some seem to drastically impact the unfolding plot in a way where entire battles or chapters will play out differently.

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Triangle Strategy might run the risk of being too formulaic, with all chapters thus far split into a predictable pattern of dialogue, battles, and decisions that can change around depending on where the story is at any given moment. I can see this becoming played out if the writing and characters don’t remain constantly engaging or new ideas and scenarios aren’t frequently introduced to keep the plates spinning. But right now, I’m confident it will sustain itself, especially given how smitten I already am with everything it has to offer. It feels like a loving homage to Tactics Ogre or Final Fantasy Tactics while having an equal determination to move the genre forward and try new things.

After being both impressed yet underwhelmed by the ambition of Octopath Traveller, Triangle Strategy feels like a more focused outing that knows exactly what it can do well and builds upon it in countless ways. The characters are great, the combat is satisfying, and the world building thus far is absolutely stellar. If the full game continues to build upon this brilliance we could be looking at one of the year’s most unexpected surprises.

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