A subset of the role-playing genre stands apart from the crowd – the tactical RPG. These games are reminiscent of the original pen-and-paper war games and RPGs, moving characters around a grid, carefully positioning your troops, and choosing your actions every step of the way.
“Triangle Strategy”, despite its terrible name, satisfies the particular itch that comes from enjoying these tactics type games.
The best correlation I can think of is “Final Fantasy Tactics”, the first such game I discovered in 1997. With a wide variety of characters and abilities to choose from, players are free to approach battles in different ways.
You can go for high ground to gain an advantage or try to flank your enemies to cut off the possibility of retreat. Make wise choices and live to see another day.
The appeal of this game extends beyond the well-designed battles, however. “Triangle Strategy” features what publisher Square Enix calls a 2D-HD game, embracing old-school pixel graphics with a modern twist. Those familiar with “Octopath Traveler” will understand the treat in store for gamers.
The game retains the feel of a Super Nintendo title while providing a level of detail only possible with modern technology. The backgrounds, animations, and effects all shine and offer incredible depth.
Moreover, the game features a deep story filled with intriguing characters that you are going to love. Ultimately.
One of the game’s greatest strengths is also its biggest flaw. Don’t expect to go through the “triangular strategy” before moving on to the next game. It’s a slow burn, brimming with details you may or may not care about.
For this reason, it is difficult to unreservedly recommend “Triangle Strategy”. It will absolutely appeal to hardcore tacticians who appreciate incredibly slow burn. But if you want something with a more modern beat, it may be best to look elsewhere.
The one man band
It can take hundreds of people to create a modern video game. Artists, programmers, level designers, musicians, writers, and more all come together with the common goal of creating something special.
“Tunic,” on the other hand, was born from the mind of one person: Andrew Shouldice. A games industry veteran who wanted to see what he could create on his own, Shouldice ended up bringing in a few other people as the game progressed – a few artists and a few composers – but largely , the game remained fairly lonely affair.
The end result shines as an example of what one person can accomplish even against modern games that cost tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars to create.
Featuring a small, anthropomorphic fox, “Tunic” owes much of its design to the early “Legend of Zelda” games. Isometric perspective, environmental design, and many puzzles shamelessly show this influence.
Make no mistake, though, “Tunic” stands on its own.
The whimsical art style gives way to a mature, fully realized design. Enemy encounters test players’ skills without ever feeling cheap or unfair. Environmental puzzles go from mind-bending to glorious satisfaction when the solution is revealed.
As for the story, you’ll have to fill in a lot of blanks yourself. There is text to read, but in the language of the world of “Tunic”, that is to say totally incomprehensible.
Those who love the lost art of game manuals will be delighted, as you have to find lost pages scattered throughout the game. Lest you think this is a cheap gimmick, note that pay attention to these pages will greatly help you progress smoothly.
Massive games like “Horizon: Forbidden West” (my 2022 obsession) offer an equally massive amount of exploration and discovery in a way familiar to modern gamers. “Tunic” offers a condensed and energized version of this same mechanic proving that games don’t always have to be bigger to succeed with this type of gameplay.
The game accomplishes everything it attempts. Shouldice has carved a masterpiece in code and proven that one person can still make an impact in an increasingly complicated and technology-intensive industry.
The phrase “they don’t make ’em like that anymore” often refers to something that reflects nostalgia more than fun, but in the cast of “Tunic,” it shows that sometimes it’s worth revisiting the past.
Who it is for: Those looking for a strategic RPG with great story depth
To note: B
Rated: E 10+
Who it is for: Action/adventure fans aren’t afraid of a challenge
Console: Xbox One S/X, PC
To note: A