A Shining Example
At the time of writing, Triangle Strategy is about two weeks away from release. Coming to the Nintendo Switch, this turn-based tactical RPG is drawing a lot of comparisons to Final Fantasy Tactics, and rightly so, it’s developed by Square Enix. However, as a certified Sega Maniac, I’m hoping that this strategic adventure will be the second coming of a different masterpiece from the late 90’s. Shining Force III for the Sega Saturn delivered deep, grid-based tactical action and multi-layered political fantasy only a few months after the initial release of Square Enix’s PS1 effort. A well-received strategy epic, Shining Force III was one of the Saturn’s top titles, and a paragon of the genre.
The Triangle Strategy demo is out there for those who are interested. The game is gorgeous. Expressive, pixel art characters and detailed, atmospheric backgrounds combine with beautiful depth of field effects to make for a visually bountiful experience. The glistening water effects especially are a visual treat. The game is immersive and comfortable, perfect for a cosy gaming session on a cold, winter’s evening. The voice acting is … a mixed bag, to put it kindly, but that’s all part of the charm, right?
Like Shining Force III, the game plays out on battlefields that are divided into neat grids. The player has access to a number of different party members, and commands them during battle by moving them around the grid and performing actions such as attacking enemies or casting spells. As the story progresses the player will recruit more characters to the cause. Each one of these characters has a story, a background and a role to play, though some are more integral than others. The basic tactics are fairly standard. Keep your melee guys in the front, and your more delicate ranged and support guys in the back. Out-position the enemy, don’t get surrounded, go for the objective.
Triangle Strategy also has plenty of elements that set it apart. Branching storylines, interesting skills that use the map in inventive ways, optional story events and the ability to explore many of the battlefields before combat ensues all represent evolution in the genre. There’s also an interesting and unique mechanic in which certain narrative-shifting decisions are voted upon by NPC party members. If a player wants the vote to swing a specific way, they’ll have to explore the local area and talk to the locals, hoping to find information that will help sway the opinions of the voters. This fascinating mechanic, along with a branching story of politics, heroism and conflict in a fantastic world, the stunning, retro visuals and the classic strategy gameplay all sound like ingredients to a perfect tactical RPG recipe.
Shining Force III was the first part of a trilogy. The second and thirds acts never made it to the West thanks to the dwindling fortunes of the Saturn. If Triangle Strategy ends on a cliffhanger, I may get a little nervous. But that’s a concern for the future. In the meantime, Triangle Strategy looks like it’s going to be a must for strategy fans. It will be released for the Nintendo Switch on 4th March 2022.