Playthrough: A Season for Strategy

Box Art

Welcome to The Starlight Megaphone‘s playthrough of Triangle Strategy, Square-Enix’s HD-2D follow-up to Octopath Traveller, released on the Nintendo Switch on 4 March 2022.

Triangle Strategy is the latest in Square-Enix’s series of “HD-2D” games, which present 16-bit style RPGs in a modernsed, high-fidelity, diorama-like form. Triangle Strategy closely follows the design aesthetic of the first HD-2D game, Octopath Traveller, and further games in the HD-2D style are currently in development by Square-Enix, including remakes of Dragon Quest III and Live A Live (scheduleded for release on 22 July).

The release of Triangle Strategy is Square-Enix’s third major foray into the world of tactical RPGs, following Final Fantasy Tactics and Front Mission. However, Triangle Strategy has clearly benefitted from developments made in other, non-Square-Enix properties, as well. The game’s titular concept–of a three-sided conflict in which choices made will affect recruitable characters and ultimate storyline path–is one which has been used in other, major RPGs this century, most recently (and pertinently) in Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was also the subject of a site playthrough. And, even outside of Japan, the idea of a three-sided conflict and path selection has intrigued developers, as in the case of Mass Effect (albeit with far less success).

The HD-2D Art Style of Triangle Strategy

The title of Triangle Strategy alludes to several gameplay and plot-related elements: in the game’s world, three vital resources are controlled by three nations, ensuring a balance of power in which the nations must work together in order to survive. In addition, player dialogue choices present three options which each represent (without identification) one of three different values. These dialogue choices affect which characters can and will join the player’s party, in addition to directing the course of the overall storyline itself.

Similar to the Suikoden series, the player’s party in Triangle Strategy has a base camp where recruited characters will assemble for deployment. Different characters bring different capabilities to the base camp: new weapons, armor, and items can be sold by appropriate vendors, and other possibilities may exist, although it is unlikely that the developers of Triangle Strategy will go as far as Konami in creating a recruitable character like Qlon, whose only purpose is to say, “This is [Name] Castle. I feel so good.”

The battle system benefits from a host of QoL developments in strategy RPGs, including some unique to this game.

Combat in Triangle Strategy is turn-based on a square, grid-style map. The map can be rotated and the default is to do so at fixed intervals, as in Final Fantasy Tactics. However, a free rotation is also available, and the map has tilt and zoom functions which have a full range of granularity. These are not the only improvements that Square-Enix has implemented since their last forays into tactical RPGs: a turn-order indicator is thoughtfully placed along the long, bottom axis of the screen. And, those who are familiar with Fire Emblem: Three Houses will immediately recognise the colour-coded grids which indicate player movement and enemy attack range, complete with the red threat-indicating lines.

Please use the comment thread below to discuss your approach to the game, challenges you have faced, strategies and content you have uncovered, and any aids you are using in your playthrough. Do you believe that Triangle Strategy is advancing the development of HD-2D and strategy games? Do you prefer the HD-2D style or would you rather see a return to Final Fantasy Tactics sprites? Do you find the three-choice morality and recruiting system strategic, or limiting? What sorts of changes would you make to the game? What features would you add or remove? Tell us all about it and join in our discussion below! We will select some of the best comments, each week, for our podcast discussion.

The dialogue is very good, if not truly exceptional.

The aim in this playthrough is to complete the entirety of the game over the next month (and possibly more). Instead of milestones, we encourage you to play at your own pace–but please keep us updated about your thoughts and progress as you play the game. This will help to sustain our discussion and encourage other players to complete the game, and it will guide us to know when it is time to close our playthrough. Please also make use of our official Discord channel, where we have an #events channel dedicated to playthrough chat.

Please join in with us and comment about your experience! Our playthrough is intended to encourage anyone and everyone to participate, regardless of speed of play or familiarity with the genre. Comment and tell your friends!

Without further adieu, we invite you to join The Starlight Megaphone‘s staff members and readers in A Season for Strategy a Triangle Strategy playthrough!

19 comments

  1. I have played the first battle as part of the pre-release demo, but no more–I wanted to wait for the start of the playthrough before I began in earnest.

    Hoping to play quite a bit of it this weekend!

  2. I just started chapter six after continuing on from the demo. The thing I am most excited about so far is how different and unique each character is in battle. Hopefully they can keep it up with future recruits. One of my favorite units right now is the acrobat girl that specializes in battle items and can create an independently acting decoy clone.

    I have been playing on normal difficulty going into story battles a bit under the recommended level and they have felt challenging enough. That said, I haven’t had anyone fall in battle yet so maybe they are a bit too easy.. I might switch over to hard if this trend continues.

    I just got Juilo who apparently was the liberty aligned character in the 1st demo. So I’m guessing that is my strongest conviction so far.

  3. I am in Chapter 3 and the game is excellent so far. The only weak spot is the VA editing (not the actors themselves), and that’s fairly minor. As SiliconNooB points out, in a game like this with its 16-bit aesthetic, you can turn off the VA and it feels natural. You can also switch to JP voices if you prefer. I switched to the Japanese voices and that is better: I don’t understand 98% of it, so I just press the button when I finish reading (which skips the rest of the VA), but this gives me a taste of ‘a voice’ for each character, which is nice.
    It’s basically the same effect that one gets from the voices in animal Crossing or the old 3D Zelda games, where it’s just gibberish, but every character has their own tone of voice and you can get their emotions from how they’re speaking the gibberish.

    There is a LOT of dialogue. Same as in Octopath. So much dialogue. I saved before the first battle which was about 15 minutes in and I saved at the second battle which was two HOURS in. With that said, I am actually reading all of it, because it is interesting and seems to be plot-related, whereas in Octopath it was all very ancillary and trivial.

    Regarding the time between battles, I would say that it’s about the same as in Fire Emblem Three Houses, except that in TS most of that is reading dialogue where in FE most of that is strategic decisions in the Monastery about what you want to upgrade, who you want to entice to join you, and so on. So insofar as there is a ‘problem’, I think it is because (at least up to Ch. 3) the player tends to be rather passive between battles: lots of reading and not as much interactivity, unlike in FE where the player is making tonnes of decisions in the ‘down time’ between battles.

    Tune into TSM 679, because we discuss this in great detail!

  4. Couldn’t stop trying to level up character weapons so I’m still at the point where the Mind Mental Mock Makebelieve Battles become available in the encampment at the start of Ch. 3, Part I. My eight party members are all L.6 and the game is REALLY stingy about money!

    I have been redoing Pincer Attack and sometimes I get 50c and other times I get 250c or thereabouts, but that’s it, and everything is so expensive. 1,500c for a single accessory!
    I have unlocked all the Quietus abilities and the extra slot, though, and I have tonnes of leftover kudos.

    I’m done trying to level things up because the only items I can get now seem to be iron (rare drop) and fiber (guaranteed drop) and those are no longer enough to upgrade weapons. QUALITY fiber is now needed (oooooooh). Onward!

  5. On the difficulty: I’ve been playing on Hard and, apart from the very first battle, it has… not been hard. No one even dies! I think it would be hard if the player’s only approach to Tactical RPGs is to charge in blindly in every fight or to form a phalanx in every fight, but if a player has even a modicum of ability to read the map and make sensible decisions, this is one of the easiest Tactics games out there.

    With that said, it is satisfying regardless. I didn’t find Octopath particularly challenging either, or Bravely Default 2, and those both have equally satisfying battle systems.

  6. I’m at chapter 11. I switched over to hard when I learned it didn’t matter much if you lost a battle. I haven’t been grinding that much so I have been going into story battles thinking I am going to lose and it’s just a way to level. I end up winning the battles with 1-4 characters left and haven’t lost yet. Although one of this victories was gained with only Hughette left. I accomplished this by flying from a roof to the ground and back and making the boss chase me while i slowly wore them down.

    I’m loving the acrobats decoy because it seems a lot of the enemies see a little girl appear in front of them and go into a blood rage where their very purpose in life in murdering the child. I’ve seen healers that had enough TP forgo healing a unit to go wack the decoy.

    I really haven’t been bothered by the amount of text at all. I have also really had to think about a lot of the decision branches I have encountered and come to interesting conclusions. Although, In one case I was forced into a path because I didn’t have enough Utility points to convince anyone into seeing things my way.

  7. I had one level where I was having the enemy units chase me up and down the map. I had just Anna and the healer left. Took a bit to beat. I just play normal anyway. NG+ still died like 3 times so far and on chapter 5

  8. I beat the game once through and am up to chapter 7 in the replay. I ended up on the liberty aligned path and the ending was pretty satisfying because it wasn’t an entirely happy ending. I liked how morally complicated every decision point in the game is.

    Even now I’m getting new interesting characters to use and I’m excited to try them out. I just got a cool looking character that is a like a geomancer. At first they seemed kind of useless because all their best attacks were locked to rare types of panels like snow or molten iron. Upon further reflection I realized they would work well with the mage abilities that change the tiles into the puddle/ablaze/frozen state. Especially because the geomancers abilities with fire and ice change 6 panels in a straight line in front of them and cause damage to enemies on those panels.

  9. That’s my final character to unlock. I’m about where you are. Ch7. I see a bunch of Bravery Medals in the shop so I’m going to grind till all are sold out. I’m way behind on Quietis too.

  10. I only have 3 Quietis because I’ve been spending all my points on promotion medals and the weapon improvement items.

  11. I’ve been playing but haven’t posted my first update it seems

    I’m up to chapter VIII, part II, with my characters between lv6 and 13. And I’m actually having some problems with this particular chapter battle. It splits your party into 4 and there’s the don’t allow Roland to die condition in place.
    I have been doing the mock battles but the levelling progress seems very slow in them. I’ve not really dabbled much in promoting or upgrading my characters yet. Perhaps looking at the comments already here, I should probably be doing that. I’m playing on normal but at times I have been considering putting it up to hard. I’ve tried this one battle maybe half a dozen times though without success, so that’s putting me off.
    I’m really liking the balance of dialogue to combat, and I’ve been taking the odd note of who is who and some gameplay notes as I think there could be more in game. I think Caspius said on the podcast it probably needs a compendium with everyone’s names and relations. I do like how you can press X to see a small profile on the character in case you’re not sure. Graphically it is nice, the style is really nice. Compared to Octopath traveller, I don’t think there is quite as much put into the overworld and locations though, but I suppose they need it to feel quite real and gritty and political intrigue. I do see some locations chugging a bit in their frame rate. I’m playing on switch lite this time. I also had one crash where the game card had apparently been removed…

  12. I’ve been chipping away at Project Triangle over the last week and I’m now up to chapter X.
    I found the pacing and structure and story very tight and coherent up til the point it diverges off to Hyzante. The 3 houses of Glenbrook and Aestrost seemed like it had a lot of scope to take up most of the game’s story, but then it quick quickly changes over and maybe it doesn’t feel as fleshed out, but Hyzantes geography and politics doesn’t seem to make sense just yet. The different encampment and towns. And the source that they don’t quite explain just yet. I’m guessing from the notes so far that it is the desert source of the salt. The Heirophant and the Saintly Seven ministers. That’s another whole area I’m interested in learning about but I feel like I’m still waiting for it to explain more. My point is I’m just worried that they’ve had too much ambition and ended up with some poorly explained story aspects and areas of life.
    I am liking the recruitable characters and I’ve even seen some blue side stories of my core character’s back story, in conversation between two party members. I have no idea what the trigger for those were. I’ve seen two of them and they popped up after doing some mental mock battles.
    I really like the bite size chunks of dialogue and scenes that are interspersed between battles. I’ve even known myself to put the volume up, auto scroll on and put it on while I’m tidying things up at work before I leave, I suppose like an audiobook. The voice acting is actually ok. It has the occasional hiccup but I’d say overall it’s pretty good. Ratio wise I am liking the battle:dialogue split, you do get a lot of plot and setup for a lot of the scenarios. They’re quite good length wise to watch the occasional one here and there when I get a chance.
    Combat is great fun. I think a few days ago I really struggled with that one battle but I’ve been promoting and upgrading a bit more and trying to keep up levels across the board, keeping up to date with mental mock battles and the difficulty is more manageable now. It was just one battle that I seemed to struggle with a bit.
    For the scales and decision based dialogue, I’m mostly up to date with everything I can to this point. I’m not following guides or anything, just finding everything as I go. I have seen some dialogue choices still remain locked. I actually was quite impressed when I had the option to go along with the illicit salt trade and tried to convince my party members this would be a good idea, only to fail to convince them. (My reasoning was go along with it as far as I can go, and undermine them with more proof from within) That made me think, there’s a lot going on under the surface in this triangle based morality system and the dialogue systems. Lots of branching paths and whatnot that I don’t understand just yet.
    Great game so far. Progress is 23:52, MC lv15, Chapter X part II: The Carelessness of Men.

  13. I also failed to convince my party to go along with the illegal salt trade. In my case everyone was stone-walled and thus unbending except maybe the swing vote.

    You get the blue side stories for a character after a certain number of map deployments as far as I can tell. I went and spammed some of my lesser used characters in easy mock battles and when the next chapter started they all had a blue side-story.

  14. I finished my second playthrough with the (secret?) best ending. It was pretty unabashedly happy which honestly is kind of disappointing. I like the bittersweet ending of my first play-though a bit more. It was kind of cool though because it had you divide your party into three groups for three different battles.

    I also got a new opening start screen after the ending where it plays a five to six minute song with three acts where every once in a while it sings the words “Triangle Strategy”. It reminds me of the fire emblem opera song honestly. It’s pretty goofy but enjoyable.

    I really enjoyed the game. The battles and the differentiation between all the characters abilities were highlights for me.

  15. I have said a few things that might come across as I didn’t like the game. You have to remember I’ve played alot of games in this genre. I think it fell short of what it could have been from SE. I enjoyed it though. It’s a 7/10 game

  16. @Tactics Jack – whats your favourite game in the genre? Or a top 3

    My final update for the playthrough. Overall I’m a little disappointed with my progress playing the game. I really liked it at first but my progress dropped away pretty quickly through the month. So I didnt manage to finish the game, but I got to Chapter 16, with 42:46 play time and my main character at lv26. I think I have a bit of grinding to do before progressing however. I’ve mainly been playing on Normal difficulty, with some missions I’ve changed it to Easy. The one I remember doing that for was the battle against Thalas and Erika in Chapter 13c: Born of Strife and Sadness. This just seemed a bit unfair, with enemies on either side in a very small battle area, with ranged attackers and casters. And if I remember right, multiple healers. I don’t think its a difficult game by any means, just a bit variable. The map design is really good, with elevation being really important. Terrain type didn’t have as much tactical importance as I hoped it would. I think the fire element burning crops or barricades seemed to have some usefulness but thats maybe a bit of a missed opportunity.
    The dialogue and Scales of convictions scenes are quite heavy at times. The dialogue is well written but for a lot of people, it seems there is just too much. I found it quite good but sometimes I’d have say an hour to play on a bus for example and that would disappear pretty quickly in one long battle or a few dialogue scenes.The story at first seems really impossibly sprawling, with a huge cast, but after 10 or so hours in, it quite neatly focuses in. You could argue that it doesnt really do much with its scale. Comparing with say A Song of Ice and Fire’s world of Westeros, which feels like an actual world with different countries, continents and factions all with really diverse feel to them. Norzelia feels like it could potentially do the same but never really hits its stride with the same level of world building. It would be good if we could see some more neighbouring kingdoms in some flashbacks or story scenes.
    The quietus system-I’ve never used it once so far. I think I mentioned in the discord that I thought it was missable and not really very well explained.
    For me, the upgrading is just a smidge too grindy. I think its supposed to work differently from what most of us probably want to do…unlocking everything doesnt seem to be worth the time investment grinding for the last few level one upgrades for example. They only increase the stats by one in most cases! Maybe its supposed to work more like a skill tree where you just focus on the upgrades that appeal most. It seemed to claim Caspius’ entire playthrough from the sounds of the podcast.
    I think its a game I’ll finish over the next few weeks. I probably only needed a bit more time, maybe a week or two, but work and studying for this extra qualification has taken a fair bit of my evening time up. I don’t want to rush it and end up affecting how much I like the game. I would probably want to go back and do some New game+ playthroughs as well. depending on how many different routes there are and endings there are.
    A few frustrating factors and a real slow burn to the story but really tight tactical gameplay keep it interesting. I’d rate it as a 3.5*/5. Maybe as high as 4/5. Solid and I hope they make more HD2D and tactical RPGs. Thanks for another awesome playthrough, its been fun!

  17. Every time I am prepared to stop grinding weapon upgrades in the mock battles, I go to the world map and find I have unlocked a new character.

    I finally decided to move ahead and ended up getting Medina. So I levelled her up and upgraded her weapon. I went to the world map, and found I had unlocked Picoletta. So I levelled her up and have one more upgrade. I’m sure as soon as I get that, I will unlock yet ANOTHER character.

    I am approaching 50 hours played and I am still in Chapter VII, Part 1!

  18. OUR PLAYTHROUGH ENDS ON 1 APRIL, AND OUR NEXT PLAYTHROUGH BEGINS A WEEK LATER! PLEASE POST YOUR FINAL COMMENTS FOR INCLUSION IN OUR PODCAST!

  19. @Berzerk The group knows my love for Tactics Ogre. I just started a new playthrough. Going total Chaos route this time till I unlock World. My disappointment is losing Ravness at the end of chapter 1. I went Law my first playthrough 7 years ago so Vyce leaves, and she stays. That means I wont’t be able to pick her up till I finish the game. She has a exclusive class White commander which you don’t get till the off the game. Using World last time, I just picked up who I missed saved the chapter got the next one. I ended up getting 90% named characters in my list last time. Now there is a way to game the game. Dragoons with Crossbows rarely miss. I’ll avoid that this time

    Now other Tactical RPGs I like are FInal Fantasy Tactics, Dynasty Tactics (needs a rerelease), Disgaea 1, Front Mission, Sukioden Tactics. I liked Sukioden 4 so Sukioden Tactics was enjoyable.
    Playlist for next month will be more NWN, Chrono Cross, Tactics Ogre and Sacred 2

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