By Isaac Espinosa
As the fate of three separate lands falls into the hands of an heir to the House of Wolfort, every choice will be crucial. In the tactical RPG Triangle Strategy, you play as Serenoa Wolffort as you try to bring peace to a land that is on the brink of breaking its truce and entering into a war. With its promise of multiple endings, does Triangle Strategy truly provide a powerful and emotional journey, or does it fail to deliver?
Serenoa Wolffort is your primary party member throughout the game. With the establishment of a truce between the countries of Glenbrook, Hyzante, and Aesfrost, the continent of Norzelia has become peaceful. But that could be temporary. The governments of Glenbrook and Aesfrost decide to inspect and share the newly discovered Grand Norzelian Mine, which would help to improve relations between those lands. After a ceremony to celebrate the truce between the three countries, Serenoa and Dragan, a cousin of the Archduke of Aesfrost Gustadolph, go to inspect the mines.
But disaster strikes, and Dragan is assassinated. The blame is pinned on Glenbrook, causing Gustadolph to kill its king and prince. Determined to bring the country to its knees, Serenoa is given the choice to either help Aesfrost, or enlist the help of the country Hyzante in order to bring Aesfrost down. This is certainly a packed opening to the game, and it successfully sets the tone for the journey ahead. The choices Serenoa must make on this adventure are pivotal and will help determine the fate of all three countries of Norziela.
Triangle Strategy’s gameplay is split up into different sections, one of which is exploration. As you explore the vast wonders of Norzelia, you’re able to survey different towns and find valuable information that will expand the lore and story of the game. With its charming HD-2D graphics, Triangle Strategy’s various areas are beautifully conveyed through its seemingly simple pixel art. Interacting with NPCs can provide some insight, and even just walking around the town will net you some goodies for battle if you look deeply enough. Battling is one of the game’s most important gameplay aspects, and it definitely doesn’t disappoint. As in RPGs such as Fire Emblem, battling takes place on a grid-like structure, where every party member is laid out like a chess piece. Every character has different attributes, which is great for giving each party member a separate role in battle. Serenoa’s close friend Roland, for example, has a horse he can ride that will give him more movement than most other characters, which makes him a powerful asset to your team. Serenoa’s wife-to-be, Frederica, offers magical ability that will do more damage to those enemies that have a lower magical defense stat. Success in Triangle Strategy means understanding the battlefield and using every single party member to their greatest potential.
One of my favorite aspects of battling is how much positioning matters. Aside from just moving your party members around, positioning can allow for benefits that will make battling even more exciting. For example, you can surround an enemy target with two party members. Having characters on opposite sides of a foe will allow both units to attack from one action, inflicting immense damage especially if you can get a critical hit from behind. But the best part about this positioning is that enemies can do it too! That means that you can’t just mindlessly place two units around an enemy, since it’s very possible that one of your own party members will become trapped. It prompts the player to strategically place their own members in places that will allow for more long-term benefits, much like how a game of chess would favor calculated moves. None can be wasted, especially during the latter parts of the game, when enemies become much more fierce.
My main complaint about Triangle Strategy, however, is its beginning, when the pace felt boring and hard to sit through. Although exposition is absolutely required for the formatting of any good story, too much of it can leave the player impatient to get through to the exciting parts. And that’s unfortunately how I felt throughout, say, the first four chapters of the story. Needless to say, however, with 20 to 21 chapters to go through, the story absolutely does pick up as it goes on. Every decision becomes vital near the end of the story, which makes the game continue to grow fascinatingly tense as it goes along. So the leisurely pacing of its opening chapters is thankfully not replicated throughout the entire game.
Despite its slow beginning, Triangle Strategy is worth the trip. It becomes a gripping and emotional adventure that encourages multiple playthroughs to try for the most satisfying ending. And words can only do so much to describe how invested I felt, while playing through this wonderful game.
Bronx native Isaac Espinosa is a senior intern at the New York Videogame Critics Circle. Isaac was named the Circle’s first assistant mentor. He also published his first story in The Verge.