Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.
The upcoming tactical combat game from Square-Enix, Triangle Strategy, has a new demo that allows players to experience the first three chapters of the game as well as the option to import the save data to the main game when it is released for the Nintendo Switch on March 4.
Following in the tradition of Final Fantasy Tactics, Triangle Strategy puts its players into the high fantasy setting of Norzelia, where a tense peace exists between three nations. The protagonist, Serenoa Wolffort, is heir to a noble family in country of Glenbrook and newly betrothed to Frederica Aesfrost, a lady from another noble house in the rival nation of Aesfrost. The marriage, along with a new mining venture, are meant to secure continued peace, but the player soon discovers that shared peace and prosperity might not be what other, powerful individuals desire.
The tactical combat is solid, with unit position, terrain, and elemental weakness all coming into play. The ability to set up follow-up attacks by unlocking certain qualities with characters or by attacking an enemy from behind while one of your friendly units also flanks it creates a sense of rhythm to combat and reinforces the importance of getting your characters into the right place to capitalize on these advantages.
The demo also showcases the Scales of Conviction, a mechanic that takes place in non-combat sequences of the game. Serenoa, as leader of House Wolffort, has to lead his people and make choices regarding their future. The prologue demo has players consider to which nation they should undertake a diplomatic mission for the crown, with the rest of the chapter playing out in a different location. However, Serenoa does not make this choice alone. In an interesting mechanic, players must convince other voting members of the house about what should be their destination. The player does not get to unilaterally decide where they will go but must first find a means of swaying the votes in whichever direction the players desire. This negotiation is managed by learning information in non-combat exploration phases by talking to other people. It is also influenced by the invisible qualities of Utility, Morality, and Liberty that Serenoa builds my making dialogue choices.
That Retro Look
Not everything is amazing in the land of Norzelia. Serenoa comes across as a bit of a bland protagonist. Maybe this flatness of his character is to allow for players to shape his character with those dialogue choices, but he seems not particularly dynamic, especially in relation to Frederica and Roland Glenbrook, who have much stronger personalities. It does not help that the localized voice acting is serviceable but by no means great.
The start of the game is also incredibly slow, taking a long time to introduce characters and get to any of the promised turn-based, tactical combat. On that note, in the length of the demo, there are only a handful of battles. While the combat is engaging and has depth, there may not be enough if it for some players. The few practice fights that eventually open up in the camp tavern offer some additional combat, but they only whet the appetite for players wanting to get into the mix.
The game is also is made with a retro look, full of sprites and an isometric battle grid. While this style will appeal to the nostalgia of some players, the look might not be for everyone. In a world where Minecraft and Stardew Valley are best-selling and critically-acclaimed games, however, criticism about graphics is absurd.
The Prologue demo for Triangle Strategy can be downloaded for free on the Switch, and it gives players plenty to consider in order to make a purchasing decision.
© 2022 Seth Tomko