Square, Where Is The Promotion?
Triangle Strategy is a title that's unfortunate in its premise as it's a title that die-hard fans will know of, but it will suffer the same fate as Octopath Traveller. That is to say, like the latter, this game's success will depend entirely on word of mouth as there is very little advertisement from Square Enix themselves. A quick click on the Square Enix website will show no mention of Triangle Strategy whatsoever in the midst of upcoming releases on their catalog.
The game most certainly exists, however, formed as a collaboration between Square and Artdink. The game's producer, Tomoya Asano, coincidentally worked on Octopath Traveller as well as the Bravely Default titles. Artdink, perhaps the most interesting of the developers, is best known for its 90s titles including the city sim Take The A-Train and various anime titles throughout the decades. This collaboration led to a unique endeavor within the Asano timeline. Rather than focus on traditional RPG, Triangle Strategy, as the name suggests, would take a more "strategic" approach.
It's Not Final Fantasy Tactics...
...But it might as well be called a Final Fantasy Tactics revival. Even calling it a "revival" isn't doing this game justice as it's in a league all its own. Those used to Bravely Default and Octopath Traveller will feel a familiar aesthetic featured in both. The "Ivalice-style" nature of Triangle Strategy and its easy-to-digest world is one of its immediate positives. The plot centers around a world enduring a war-torn state. To appease the wars, two protagonists from different nations offer each other hands in marriage. Unfortunately for Serenoa and Frederica, the tides of war are rising yet again with the couple caught in the crossfire of it.
To an extent, the characters fit the designated role of the heroic protagonist, the patient and loyal mentor, the headstrong heiress, and her protective caretaker. The first fight in the game is between the party and an invading group of bandits. While the bandits are obviously antagonists, these aren't malicious bandits. These guys, as they refer themselves directly, are just trying to get by to make ends meet even if it's holding a prestigious woman for ransom. This "grey" morality plays into how the player determines Serenoa's personality as well as the course of the story.
Dialogue Choices Offers Triangle Strategy's Immersion
Occasionally, there will be dialogue choices present in Triangle Strategy that can affect the flow of conversation, even going so far as turning enemies hostile. An example of this is talking with the bandits prior to their fight, as Serenoa can try to go for a diplomatic response or inquire that the bandits are of kin. While all options will lead to combat, the dialogue that follows in-between will offer insight on the characters the players will face. It also highlights that the enemies in Triangle Strategy are not without their own resolve and reasons to fight. Yes, they are trying to kidnap your fiancee, but at least they are prideful about it.
The gameplay is why I mentioned Final Fantasy Tactics, to begin with as many of its cues are influenced by it. Players move around a map, with areas highlighted in blue being "friendly territory" and red being "enemy territory." If players strike at the rear of an enemy, they land an instant critical blow. If an ally is directly behind or in front of the enemy, they will join in on a follow-up attack. The enemy will take advantage of these situations as well, going so far as to gang up on an isolated unit such as what happened to my poor horse unit.
I Have The High Ground, Bandits!
Other strategies included in battle are elevation changes. Something as simple as a pair of steps can determine a one-shot kill or a prolonged brawl. Simply being above an opponent and striking from above, preferably their rear, all stack with each other. This is what the game teaches the player as things can spiral out of control. Thankfully, there are several anti-frustration measures to give the player a fighting chance. Instead of using MP like other games, there is FP which restores by one after every passing turn. These points are used for skills and spells, including healing spells.
It's a valid option to retreat, heal, and go back into the thick of battle without worrying about running out of resources. The only resource to watch out for aside from FP is health. To my knowledge, once a unit loses their health points, they are gone from battle. There are many ways to go about this, players can target the most threatening unit on the field or pick off ads one by one first. Even if players never played FFT, fans of NIS America titles will understand the assignment.
Triangle Strategy Has All The Makings Of A Great TRPG
The gameplay is solid, easy to grasp, and forgiving enough for the player to weasel their way out of a tight situation. Talking about graphics, Triangle Strategy is like Octopath Traveller in its mix of character sprite artworks and beautifully detailed 3D environments. When characters use their special attacks, particle effects are as high of a quality as the environment itself. It gives the game a "retro" look while keeping itself grounded to modern times. It's a feat very few games can pull off yet Tomoya Asano manages to do it consistently.
Perhaps the real gripe and elephant in the room is Square Enix themselves. Again, die-hard fans of Asano's work, RPG fans, and fans of the Tactical RPG genre have waited with bated breath for Triangle Strategy. Unfortunately, the lack of promotion from Square Enix has been non-existent. In a sea of upcoming releases, there is not a mention of Triangle Strategy and the name alone isn't enough to inquire newer players on what the game is about. It's so bad that some players weren't aware of its existence if it wasn't for the rogue streamer and content creator playing it.
The Community Can't Carry A Release On Its Shoulders Alone...
This is what I'm getting at, ultimately, as the success of games like Triangle Strategy does not rely on the community alone. It's equal parts the community and developer. Sure, sales are what gauges interest, but how there can be interest if Square isn't even showing much of an interest in their own title? I'm not a seer, but I hope that this game sees success and not as a repeat of what happened with NEO: The World Ends With You. Remember when Square was 'shocked' about "sales reaching low expectations" yet there wasn't nearly as big of an advertising campaign to make players aware of a new TWEWY title?
Sure, the developer Artdink could promote the game themselves but one look at their website also shows very little mention of Triangle Strategy. Aside from their history in game development, there's no information at all. Thus, once again it's up to the community and word-of-mouth to carry its sales and its existence. There's a solid TRPG under everyone's noses who bemoan for a new Final Fantasy Tactics and it's unearthed by many AAA titles like Elden Ring. I don't want Triangle Strategy to be a tragedy in the making.
Triangle Strategy is out for the Nintendo Switch.