Even if you love Final Fantasy games, expect to feel like a stranger in a foreign land when playing Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. This violent retelling of the original Final Fantasy game from 1987 largely forgoes the adventurous spirit and heartfelt mysticism of the series in favor of muscle, attitude, and all things extreme. . Square Enix labeled this remake a “heavy action/role-playing game,” an apt description for a game that rarely mentions its aggression. As swords are drawn and massive beasts enter a frenzy, this edgy experiment shines, as the battlefield lights up with a flurry of combos and spells against monstrous monsters. pose a real threat. As swords accumulate and characters need to talk or explore, Stranger of Paradise hits a low rarely seen in Final Fantasy’s 35-year history.
Don’t be surprised if you let out your first groan within minutes of meeting protagonist Jack. Expressing the emotional range of a brick, Jack is a blank slate of a lead role, offering little in terms of plot or character, but he explains for all the wrong reasons when he often talked about wanting to kill a dark creature named Chaos. He snarls this dark ambition to most who will listen, sometimes dropping f-bombs along the way because he is so angry. The story sticks dearly to the silly Chaos sequence, which offers a few interesting twists near the end, but is mostly unsettling and fails to build on the characters or the world around them.
Jack ends up befriending a handful of like-minded people to go with, but they’re just as soulless as he is, and their reasons for being together are also slim. At one point, Jack meets Jed and Ash on a road, and after chatting about Chaos and the crystals for just a few seconds, they agree to journey together and cement their chances with a handshake. The fist bump sounds terrifying and oddly noticeable, as you’ll see this move over and over, each time as unintentionally funny as the last. I don’t care much about the story, but I like where it ends. No, the final moments don’t make the journey worthwhile, but at least it ends with a bang.
The hunt for Chaos takes place in the land of Cornelia, a lush place with most of the fantasy for which the series is famous. Developer Team Ninja does an excellent job of changing the language frequently in its level-based progression – throwing the team into lava caves, icy mountains, and vibrant forests full of beasts. Most of these places are confusing in design, leaving Jack and company to take mazelike paths, some of the puzzle nature that requires a re-jailbreak to solve. Without a map, you can get lost periodically. In an odd twist, the party can dash through a swarm of enemies unchallenged, meaning you can quickly cover the ground and find your place. You can also run from the start of a level to the final boss without facing a single enemy – a design flaw I exploited to speed up exploration in some of the more obscure levels.
It’s not that I don’t want to join the fight. As messy as Stranger of Paradise is in its story and world, it fully embraces a warrior’s rage to deliver an exceptional combat experience. The melee combat is nicely implemented and the ranged spells are exhilarating and Jack can switch between them on the fly. Easily read enemy movements and unstoppable attacks, making all battles fair and a real test of skill. Even the two AI companions that join you are competent and earn their own kill scores, even against bosses if you need to keep your distance. Some bosses are extremely challenging and your allies may not be of enough help, but you can always reduce the difficulty of this fight at any save point – another great touch.
Powerful combat mechanics, allowing Jack to bombard enemies with abilities at free speed. The evasive move works well, as does the soul shield’s counter allowing Jack to store magic and launch ranged attacks that throw back at his attacker – the latter is quite ingenious, but sometimes when difficult to use because frenzied battles can occur. When the enemy is making you fit, saving magic to trigger the Lightbringer’s devastating attacks can turn the tide. Best of all, when your opponent’s breaking stats are depleted, you can instantly do them with a stylish finish move that can even deal continuous damage to any other enemies nearby. there.
Jack lives up to his name as the locomotive of every trade on the battlefield. Instead of focusing on just one job, Stranger of Paradise encourages players to use more than a dozen of them, switching to whichever style best suits the current situation. Each class is fully featured and fun to use. I enjoy being able to transform in a flash from a samurai with precise sword strikes to a careless black mage who descends to death from afar. Figuring out which jobs work best together is part of the fun and reason to experiment often.
Applying points to the skill tree allows each job to grow stronger the way the player wants it to. Specific armor pairs also yield valuable statistical collisions. Each class can reach the main rank at level 30 and offers lots of cool customizations, such as determining which special attacks trigger at specific points on the combo chain. Once again, the battle is absolutely intense in Stranger of Paradise and gives you a real sense of mastery over it.
Almost every defeated enemy drops a weapon or armor, and you quickly learn that you have to speed up frequently diving into the menus to adjust the loading of each character, as you can spend as much time in the menu as when fighting. Weapons provide almost every kind of attribute bump you’d expect, and armor offers plenty of cosmetic changes. The “cool” factor of gear is tied to their level, meaning that at level 5 you’re wearing leather and at level 105 you’re glittering in a gorgeous dragon scale suit.
Having so many different options at your fingertips – from gear to jobs – is where Stranger of Paradise shines the brightest and delivers the excitement. These thrills extend to two friends in the online co-op, but only if they catch up to your battle levels. If you’re not on the same level range, you have to play at the lowest player’s level, which can cause failure if they’re just starting and you’re mid or late game.
Stranger of Paradise is the weirdest Final Fantasy game ever, bound between horrible and great. If you can stand Jack (and that’s a big question), the excellently crafted battle is well worth a look. You can come to this game to experience the plot and Final Fantasy, but it’s all about the fighting and some other stuff.