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Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Review

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Review

Chaos… Chaos must be vanquished. Chaos, Chaos, Chaos… I’m not exaggerating the use of Chaos as our protagonist, Jack, likes to bring this up at every available opportunity in Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin just in case it had slipped our minds. Ever since the reveal of Team Ninja’s game, it became an instant meme regarding the overuse of Chaos. Now here I am, facing off against Chaos and boy, does Jack love to say it!

Early comparisons to games such as Nioh or Dark Souls have been bouncing around the internet for a while, especially after the demonstration versions of the game have been released by Square Enix. However, this isn’t a fair comparison in my view as Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin stands out on its own two feet; the only thing I see that ties this to anything soulslike would be the cube system that replenishes health and revives most enemies that you’ve defeated. What you get your hands on is a competent action game that will have you hacking, slashing, and chucking spells to your heart's content. Yes, you can block attacks, dodge out of the way, and even parry, but you can do those things in other titles that aren’t labelled as soulslike.

Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Screenshots 1

The game starts out with Jack facing off against Tiamat, some multi-headed dragonkin beastie, and serves as an appetiser of how intense boss fights can be, and also as a glimpse into the future since this won’t be the only time you’ll encounter this nasty piece of work. Jed and Ash accompany Jack in tickling the many heads of Tiamat, two AI-controlled companions that will be with you throughout your playtime in the game. Once the encounter with Tiamat is complete, you’re whisked off to a field of wheat that serves as the tutorial area, covering the controls of the game. Here you will learn the basics of combat and one of the core mechanics: Soul Burst. This ability allows you to perform a finisher on enemies that are in a broken state. This broken state occurs once you have depleted the yellow bar visible above the enemy itself, as this bar represents their Break Gauge. Performing these finishers is key in replenishing and increasing the amount of MP Jack has, as many combat moves consume this resource.

Once you’re finished with the tutorial, the game places Jack just outside of Cornelia, meeting up with Ash and Jed. With Chaos still on Jack’s mind, a meeting with the king is required in order to set out plans on how to defeat this nefarious foe. After speaking with the king and a few locals, you’re off onto our first mission and the adventure begins. Heading through the first level, a few instantly recognisable Final Fantasy enemies are present, such as goblins, Bombs, and even the odd Cactuar, making things easy-going while getting to grips with the many systems at play here. Your two AI companions are pretty self-sufficient, though you can command each to essentially go nuts for a limited amount of time. Everyone is assigned a Job — another staple of Final Fantasy games — with Jack starting out as a Swordsman, Jed a Duelist, and Ash a Pugilist. As you defeat enemies and gain XP, you’ll start gaining Job Points that can be used to unlock additional abilities and effects. Jack, being the jack of all trades, is able to use all of the Jobs available in-game, however many will need to be unlocked by acquiring new weapons and completing Job trees. For example, to unlock the Dragoon Job, you’ll need to fill the Marauder and Lancer trees. Luckily, Jack can also assign two Jobs to himself that can be switched on the fly during battle, so gaining XP for the multitude of Jobs on offer goes pretty fast.

Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Screenshots 10

Ash and Jed aren’t the only companions that will be with you on your travels, as you’ll come across Neon and Sophia, though you’re only able to have two of the available companions with you, so there’ll be a lot of switching out characters as they level their Jobs. As for companion Jobs, only one Job at a time here, but you are able to unlock different Jobs as you progress. While Jed starts out as a Duelist, you are able to unlock Thief and Samurai later on as an example. Keeping on the topic of Jobs, weapons and gear are also tailored to these so it’s key to constantly keep equipping new gear while trying to keep up the affinity bonus for the current Job in use. If we stay with Jed and his Duelist Job, then if we equip him appropriately and his Job affinity is at 20%, that’s an extra 2 agility points added to his stats. Breakpoints on affinity bonuses happen at 20%, 30%, 50%, 80%, 120%, 160%, 250%, and 400%. Every breakpoint that you reach grants an additional bonus. Every Job will also have a unique ability associated with it and the playstyles can be quite different. Lancers feel more defensive with their ranged pokes using polearms, while Ronin are more up close and personal with precision strikes from their katanas… so there are plenty of options for combat personalisation to suit many players.

While being linked to Final Fantasy in name, characters, music, and other elements, it certainly does not play like a standard game from this franchise. There’s no open world to explore, there’s no typical RPG feel to the gameplay, and progression is level-based via the world map. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a relatively linear affair, except for the odd choice here and there, with missions having a recommended gear level before diving in. Should you ignore this and go into a mission under-geared, then you’ll take more Break Gauge damage while dishing out less Break damage. But fret not, dear adventurer, as there are many means to upgrade your average level rating. Every mission is just a loot bonanza, with enemies dropping items like pinatas, hidden and not-so-hidden chests, and finally, purple orbs that spawn some loot once interacted with. Missions themselves grant a variety of swag after completion and will generally offer an additional sidequest that is of a higher average level rating than what you’ve just completed, offering even greater spoils. Not only is equipment thrown at you like it’s going out of fashion, but you’re also able to dismantle what you don’t want into upgrade components to be used to further enhance the gear you have equipped.

Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Screenshots 5

Should you find yourself in a bit of a pickle trying to complete the missions, then you may enlist the help of two friends to join you in jolly cooperation. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin does indeed have multiplayer functionality with your friends jumping into the slots of the AI companions. There is cross-play available, but it is limited to the same platform; PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 can play together, while Xbox One and Series X|S can play together — not that anyone can get their hands on a PS5 these days.

The visuals of the game are decent, but I don’t feel they’ll win any awards. Through my time with the game, switching between performance and resolution modes — that I could only change from the main menu and nowhere else in the game! — I felt there were some choice decisions made; I never felt the game felt sharp enough, like there was always some kind of blur on the characters and environments. It’s still a pretty game, don’t get me wrong, and the art and design on the models, equipment, and weapons are damn good, but there’s an element that didn’t quite click with me. Something else that didn’t click with me is the targeting system when locking onto an enemy. I kept finding myself switching targets when moving the right stick and spinning round to something that’s behind me, throwing me off my moves.

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The music in the game is unmistakably Final Fantasy themed, especially the moments of Jack humming the opening theme to the original Final Fantasy. They suitably fit each level you venture into and audibly trigger a change of tune once you’re about to throw down with some mobs. The voice acting of each character is fine — though Captain Bikke has the odd nod towards a certain pirate that may be found in the Caribbean, which I found a little misplaced in a Final Fantasy game — and on the whole, it’s quite enjoyable hearing the different conversations between all the party members.

Overall, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a very competent action game with plenty of scope for anyone to sink their teeth into and lose a large number of hours. Solid combat with an engaging story that keeps tugging at that ‘one more level’ string that every gamer has.

8.00/10 8

Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (Reviewed on PlayStation 5)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Certainly a title for Final Fantasy fans to dive into, even if it’s just to experience the story and read up on the lore, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has something for many gamers to enjoy.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Staff Writer

A purveyor of strange alcoholic mixes and a penchant for blowing shit up in games. Proud member of the glorious PC master race.

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