Triangle Strategy – Review – Games Room

Triangle Strategy attracts with a shimmering fine surface, but underneath it hides an uneven strategy role-playing game that does not know how to put an end.

I have noticed that I have a more complicated relationship with dialogue in games than I thought. I love story-driven games, and have always been interested in interactive narratives. Point-and-click games are one of my absolute favorite genres. I love games with a lot of dialogue and text, like Disco Elysium, Planescape: Torment, Grim Fandango and Pillars of Eternity. But with each passing year, I get less and less patience for chatter in games. As long as the script is well written, the text can be as long as you like, and the dialogues very wordy. But it requires fingertip sensitivity. A lot of screenwriters miss it, so when they spread, the result is mostly a harmless waffle that kills the tempo and frustrates the shit out of me.

A game like Disco Elysium is certainly very dialogue and text heavy, but that is because its characters actually have something to say. However, the game knows when someone has had their say and puts an end before it goes out of control. Even when discussing more complex issues, it leaves some things unsaid, because the gamers trust that we who play understand without people grinding and repeating themselves until the score has been pushed down our throats.

I bring this up because Triangle Strategy (by the way, a deplorable name for a game) has a lot of text and a lot of dialogue – but it is not well written, not well played and the game does not make sense to put an end to time. Long after the player has taken the score, the characters continue to grind on the same things. If you want such a wordy dialogue, it must at least be written quickly and cleverly. The characters must be charming and eloquent. Not a bunch of boring clich├ęs that mostly stand and lecture with a monotonous voice.

Read also: Dying Light 2 – The review

Pixel tactics

Triangle Strategy is, however, a tactical jrpg in the same school as Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, and once we get to go out and fight on the battlefields, it’s more fun. It’s not very deep or particularly intricate, but it’s a retrograde strategy of the old school. Each battlefield is small and limited, and the different characters have their clear roles and abilities that allow you to create quite effective combinations. Do you need to stop advancing hordes of enemies? Let a support unit give more actions to your ice magician, who can set up ice walls at bottlenecks. Or let your archer blind the enemies so that they can barely strike back. There are some fun strategies to play with here, although it will be a bit monotonous towards the end, when you have found your favorite tactics and the battles are pretty much settled deals for the most part, although some battles offer quite tough resistance if you want to get it best end.

Over time, you get more and more characters to play with, which still means that the game keeps the interest up quite well in the battles, after all. Some of your companions are certainly extremely much more useful than others, but it is quite common in the genre. And it can be fun to see if you can handle even the trickier battles with units you are not so fond of. But as a rule, most players probably stick to a solid core of favorites that work well together.

Fragmented narrative

The big problem is just that the framing is so murderously sad. The plot itself could probably have worked, if it had been told in a better way. As it is now, we get the most detached, syrupy scenes between the battles, where various boredom stands and explains what is happening, usually in the driest possible way. The two main characters are probably the worst of all. Serenoa is a young heir to the throne of one of the most powerful noble families in the region in which the game takes place, and Frederica is his betrothed. Their interaction with each other consists mostly of various gentle courtesies, and that they apologize exactly all the time. For everything. It’s like they’re competing over who can be the most instinctively humble and it feels most artificial. It also means that you do not get a feeling for them as people, because they lack personalities. All they do is apologize or give extremely lukewarm fire speeches (minus the fire) about the importance of duty and that at least war is bad.

In addition, the story is chopped up in individual scenes that are not particularly well directed and take far too long. Some are basically short, but still feel elongated because they are so clumsy and tough. A lot of them load retold memories (which rarely say anything of value at all about the characters beyond what we already know) that make them feel even more drawn out, as the jumps between the scenes are so slow. It’s generally not a particularly exciting way to tell a story. It feels more organic to let your character actually go to a companion or other npc and simply talk to them. Then I feel as a player that I have some input and control over it all, at least. IN Triangle Strategy if only a list of scenes you can watch appears, then you sit there passively and graze on them. If you want to have that arrangement, it places high demands on the scenes to be interesting and well-written, which, as I said, they really are not.

A more organic way of structuring the narrative would have made a big difference, but it is possible to make this slightly old-fashioned way of structuring a game work. But it requires fingertip sensitivity in the narrative in that case. Or just a big fucking editorial scissors that cuts a large part of the chewy dialogue.

Pretend deep

World construction has some potential, but it is too predictable. It’s simplistic, with obvious villains – but the game pretends to be more complex than it is, not least by lecturing on everything and repeating itself in absurdity. Describing something obvious in many words does not make it more complicated, after all. Before a betrayal of a side character, we get several scenes that show how unreliable and selfish the person is. There is almost no doubt that that bastard will betray one. And this is more or less how the whole game’s plot and world build. Present a concept, and then nag about it without really nuance or add anything more that puts everything on hold or gives more insight into life in this world.

Now there does not have to be a lot of nuances in a tactical role-playing game of this kind either. But if people are now going to babble my ears, they’re gonna have something to say too. If you want a simple and directly good against evil story, that’s okay. But then adapt the story accordingly, with a fast pace and quick dialogue.

It is a pity that the story falls so flat, because the battles are basically pleasant. Not so good that they can carry the game completely if you choose to skip the whole story and just run the battles. A tactical role-playing game of this kind needs a nice combo of story and strategy to become really engaging – an interplay between narrative and combat to give both elements meaning and drive the player. See Banner Sagatrilogy for a good example of this.

Triangle Strategy falls on the fact that it thinks it has more to say than it actually has, and that it refuses to kill a single darling. The result is a protracted disappointment that never really lifts, despite fantastically fine aesthetics and a straightforward and solid combat system, which with a better framing could probably have felt clearly more engaging. It’s not a downright bad game. Not at all. But at its worst, the game is as boring as its unimaginative title.

Also read: Is NORCO as good as people say? Read our review.