Have you ever wondered how the legendary Final Fantasy franchise would play out in a ‘souls-like’ genre? Well, that is exactly what you’d get playing Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. It is a hardcore action RPG game that takes the whole series in an entirely new direction.
Taking heavy inspiration from From Software’s masterpieces, such as Dark Souls and Elden Ring, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is arguably the series’ boldest take yet. It brands itself as having the most merciless encounters in the history of the storied franchise.
In this article, we intend to take a deeper look at this unique Final Fantasy entry. Here is our review of Square Enix and Koei Tecmo’s Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
Final Fantasy Origin: What is it?
The game takes place at the very beginning of the Final Fantasy franchise. It employs a dark fantasy interpretation of the setting for the very first entrant in the series.
In the game, you play as Jack Garland, a stoic rage-driven warrior dedicated to defeating Chaos no matter what it takes. With his greatest buddies in tow, they must brave the land of Cornelia and gather the four crystals of light in order to finally put an end to the embodiment of darkness, Chaos itself.
Those that are well-acquainted with the original Final Fantasy game should already be wary of an upcoming twist as soon as they heard the main character’s full name. However, to avoid spoilers, we shall leave it as just that (wink-wink*).
The story of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is told through a series of long flashbacks and visions. It shows the rollercoaster venture of our protagonist accompanied by other companions, including newcomers Jed and Ash. Furthermore, it also slowly reveals the truth about Jack himself.
Flash forward now, the game eventually reveals that Jack and his great friends are all reincarnations of the Warriors of Light from the original Final Fantasy game. Even before they were born, they are already destined to do something of great importance. It is to defeat Chaos and bring light back to the world. On top of that grand struggle, our main characters also find trouble remembering their past lives.
The game’s story is well-written and engaging, and it features some memorable characters. Jack is a complex and conflicted protagonist, and his journey to defeat Chaos is both personal and epic. The game’s supporting cast is also well-developed, and they each play an important role in the story.
How Does It Play?
As we have already established earlier, this game is a huge departure from the norms set by the previous games under the wide Final Fantasy banner. It throws off most of the concepts of the JRPG genre in place of more fast-paced gameplay. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins’ combat is action-packed and truly challenging.
While encounters still require a bit of strategy, having fast reflexes and impressive hand-to-eye coordination would do you best. It rewards players who are skilled at timing their attacks and dodging their enemies. Every fight is tough, and you must study each enemy’s attack patterns and nuances to progress further than the last checkpoint.
Final Fantasy veterans would be glad to hear that this game involves the jobs system prevalent in the older titles. In this game, the jobs serve to shake up the gameplay based on players’ playstyles. Each of them has its own unique abilities and gameplay approaches, which serve two purposes really.
The first is to ensure that every player has a chance to play Jack how they want. The next is to give the combat variety, making it more dynamic and flexible. Moreover, players can also customize their characters’ appearance and equipment.
Much like Dark Souls, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins’ game world is divided into several sprawling areas. Although they may drastically differ in the enemies they house and the challenges they present, they are masterfully connected with one another in various ways. Players will need to use all of their skills and abilities to survive in these dangerous lands.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a challenging and rewarding game that is sure to please fans of the Final Fantasy series and action RPGs. It offers a fast-paced and challenging combat system, a deep character customization system, and a vast and dangerous world to explore.
However, it is not without issues—both in gameplay and approaches. For one, while the story is indeed engaging and interesting, it is too ambitious in its own right. It intends to interconnect every Final Fantasy entry into a one-linear timeline, which is just practically impossible!
Fans of the franchise, such as I, only see this as overcomplicating things. And believe us, Final Fantasy is complex enough. That said, its approach is commendable, just a bit ill-advised, at least for us.
Overall, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin accomplishes what it aims to do. It provides a souls-like experience set in the legendary Final Fantasy series. While it is clearly targeting fans of the franchise, action RPG enthusiasts would also find great fun with this title.