Square Enix has had a huge hand in the tactical strategy genre with games like Tactics Ogre, Front Mission, and Final Fantasy Tactics. Square Enix’s HD-2D line of games has provided a chance, once again, to bring a fresh new take on the genre, and that’s resulted in the very best strategy game of 2022. Triangle Strategy feels like a game that could have been released during the golden age of RPGs, and it packs an absolutely epic story alongside some strategic combat that puts a fun twist on character classes. With Triangle Strategy now on PC as well as Nintendo Switch, it’s easier than ever to dive into the epic tactical adventure.
Triangle Strategy takes place on the continent of Norzelia which is split into three mighty countries; the Kingdom of Glenbrook, the Grand Duchy of Aesfrost, and the Holy State of Hyzante. Like any good tactical RPG, Triangle Strategy’s setting is on the brink of war. Players take on the role of a young lord of Glenbrook named Serenoa Wolffort. As tensions flare across the continent, Serenoa finds himself as a key figure in the war, and the decisions he and his party make shape how the story plays out.
The narrative of Triangle Strategy is absolutely a slow burn. The game intentionally takes its time to build up the political situation of Norzelia, gradually introduce more characters, and build intrigue in the process. There’s a huge emphasis on political and personal relationships.
What’s really interesting here, however, is how those political ideas tie into the very story itself.
Serenoa makes a variety of decisions throughout the story, and his choices fall into three ideological categories: Utility, Morality, and Liberty. They’re also referred to as “Convictions” and fundamentally related to the whole “triangle strategy” naming convention. Each choice you make in these categories gives you an invisible stat boost to that specific category, and that can shape how you interact with the world, the characters you can recruit, and how easily you can convince your advisors in key decisions.
While there are loads of little choices, the really weighty decisions take place through the Scales of Convictions. In these sections, each of the main party members will cast their own vote for a specific choice, and ahead of time, you can gather info and try to sway them one way or the other. These decisions split the story off in wildly different ways, ultimately resulting in four different endings.
While the story is absolutely a major focus in Triangle Strategy, the combat system is perhaps even more engrossing. Essentially, each unit has its own class, skills, strengths, and weaknesses, meaning you need to learn how to properly utilize each and every one. For example, Erador is a strong frontline fighter that can protect others, while Jens is a support unit that can lay down traps and ladders to help form the battlefield. There are no classes to unlock, but progression for individual units is satisfying enough as is.
Triangle Strategy introduces some unique combat elements that can also affect your strategy. The biggest of these is the follow-up attack system, letting you unleash an extra attack if one of your units is on the opposite side of an enemy. This puts a big emphasis on unit positioning, but enemies can do the exact same thing, so it’s important to keep track of their positioning as well.
Triangle Strategy also has a variety of environmental effects that can change the flow of battle, like grass being set on fire or lightning spreading through a puddle. You can often take advantage of these environmental effects by using elemental spells. On top of all this, many of the game’s maps introduce unique mechanics or elements, like one battle within a mine that lets you use carts to move around quickly ... and run people over.
Of course, the final thing that needs mentioning about Triangle Strategy is the phenomenal presentation, as it’s easily the best-looking HD-2D game yet. The game’s sprite work looks gorgeous, especially when put up against the equally gorgeous environments and lighting effects.
While the PC version doesn’t add any big new features, it does make Triangle Strategy look even more impressive visually, bumping up the presentation to 4K and 60fps. That may seem like overkill for a slow-paced tactical strategy game, but playing Triangle Strategy on PC is definitely a treat.
2022 has been a big year for RPGs and strategy games, but Triangle Strategy still stands out as one of the most unique experiences of the year. Anyone that’s a fan of strategy or politics-fueled stories will find a lot to love, and multiple playthroughs can feel remarkably different. Hopefully, Triangle Strategy is an indication that Square Enix has more plans for the strategy genre.