Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin announced for 2022; PS5 timed demo now available

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Square Enix and Team Ninja of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT and Nioh fame have teamed up to let us re-experience what video games were tonally like back in the late-2000s. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, evidently named by someone who doesn't comprehend the concept of a total mouthful, is said to be a new kind of Final Fantasy title. Instead of a whimsical fantasy adventure, you can reminisce your edgy teenage days with some grim dark action.

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We're talking copious amounts of crimson jelly secreted from your vanquished foes. I presume that's supposed to be blood, though it looks remarkably like the blood splatter effects from a mid-PS3 and Xbox 360 title. We're also talking a trio of varying "personalities" led by Jack McGeneric, who aside from smouldering with generic rage, is intent to kick down the door to the Chaos Shrine and...I presume he wishes to kill Chaos? I don't know. The trailer is very subtle about our protagonist's motivations. Maybe he just wishes to deliver a parcel to Garland's throne room?


This game is coming to multiple platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and S and PC. Its tentative release window is sometime in 2022.

For PS5 owners, there is a trial demo for the game available from 13th June to 24th June. This requires an active broadband connection and PSN account, and save data CANNOT be carried over to the eventual full game.

According to the game's website and trailer description:

You take the role of Jack who, along with allies Ash and Jed, sets off on a quest to defeat Chaos. Burning with resolve, and with memories of their struggle deep in their hearts, are they the foretold Warriors of Light?

Your journey will take you into a dark and challenging fantasy world, filled with iconic monsters from the FINAL FANTASY series. Fortunately, Jack isn’t exactly defenseless - he can use powerful spells and abilities from a range of jobs, including warrior, dragoon and black mage.
 
Linnaete

Linnaete

Demos out now!:
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Thoughts From the trailer:
As for the often remarked as a souls-like game it reminded me more of Devil May Cry 1 than any souls game - I got the impression most of the game will be set within a Castle too.

The cast look VERY out of place, similar to FFXV's cast but at least they are actual characters that have dialogue and are involved with what is going on. I noticed the lead character (Jack) wearing different costumes in battle, so there may be visual customization elements too.

Also, party members seem to be present during the combat, I'm beginning to wonder how this will differ from the mainline FFXVI... The only difference I see is this being smaller in setting where as XVI will have a world to explore. Though the description form the site does indicate a bigger world so I have no idea any more :P

Overall I'm mildly interested, not a Day One Purchase, but something I could see myself playing eventually.
 
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The demo is a corrupted file and doesn't play. 10/10

This game also looks utterly horrendous. Its art style is straight out of an edgy late-2000s PS3-era title and its main protagonist is borderline satire of video game heroes from that era of video games. It looks to be a total sausage fest for no discernible reason and the writing so far sounds abysmal.

What is even going on.
 
I guess Chaos is confirmed as a character in this game!


Honestly, this looks to have the complexity of the original God of War games. That is to say, a lot of shouting and rage and blood, but not much depth to it (before the recent PS4 game that is).

I do not quite know what to make of this. The Warriors of Light are not behaving like Warriors of Light. And there is the notable absence of the fourth member, which people have commented upon.

I'd be too worried that this would be too dark and missing most of the 'magical formula' that makes Final Fantasy what it is, but it does have Pink-Prompto, so at least there will be some brevity and maybe a bit of banter in this game.

I wish Square Enix well with this, and I hope when the product is released in full there will be things to discuss. It might not be what I seek in a Final Fantasy, but it might be what some people seek in their games.
 
I guess Chaos is confirmed as a character in this game!


Honestly, this looks to have the complexity of the original God of War games. That is to say, a lot of shouting and rage and blood, but not much depth to it (before the recent PS4 game that is).

I do not quite know what to make of this. The Warriors of Light are not behaving like Warriors of Light. And there is the notable absence of the fourth member, which people have commented upon.

I'd be too worried that this would be too dark and missing most of the 'magical formula' that makes Final Fantasy what it is, but it does have Pink-Prompto, so at least there will be some brevity and maybe a bit of banter in this game.

I wish Square Enix well with this, and I hope when the product is released in full there will be things to discuss. It might not be what I seek in a Final Fantasy, but it might be what some people seek in their games.
I said this before, but this could be a prologue to FF1 rather than a retelling. in FF1, Garland kidnaps Sarah. The Chaos Shrine was also in ruins at that time. If we also take into account that The Warrior of Light representing FF1 is actually a replica of Cid, centuries before FF1, and after Dissidia is transported near Castle Cornelia, this would line up perfectly to that theory.

With that said, these characters are terrible. I have zero interest in them. They're absolutely one-dimensional. FF used to be a series of quality control, and it looks like nowadays, even since FF13, quality management has suffered. a chance to capitalize on Amano's artwork.

Even the blood crystallization technique is bad. just a quick punch and smashing it. I wonder if they'll make Jack some kind of person from our world and suddenly get transported into ours. This needs to be redone.

Team Ninja keeps proving that they're not the right fit for AAA FF games.
 
I just tinkered with the Demo, it's a decent offering i probably put 2 hours or so into it.

One of the biggest problems I had was when the Stamina/Guard meter is broken, I get the idea your defenseless but when fighting the boss it always seemed his attack patterns would be timed perfectly for that opportunity and when that happens you get ambushed and I often found when trying to use a potion in that scenario it wouldn't work and I'd be dead in an instant.

The comrades were just sort of there... they can be K.O. and you have to use a potion to revive them but I never really had a true sense of the impact they had to even bother. There needs to be much more integration with them - I haven't played FFXV since all the up[dates but I gather you can swap characters now or have their party members use their abilities. There just needs to be something, you couldn't customize them in the menu in the Demo.

The customization was decent, I liked how you could change the characters appearance via the equipment - even though I didn't like the cloak which I had to use which was far better than everything else. The upgrades felt frequent and compelling. I mostly used the Warrior Job once it was upgraded. I like the idea of assigning different specials at the end of an attack pattern. I did tinker with the mag gameplay style a little bit I felt having to stadn still to summon a spell wasn't as practical in battle - it made for an impact first strike though.

I liked the direction of the cutscenes and atmosphere - it's basically all in the trailer. The mid-boss interaction with where he says "Know when you're beaten!" was pretty epic! The side characters felt flat, but this is only a bite-size portion of the game. Hopefully motivations for both characters will be focused on and each one have their own trials and events in the game. The castle itself was very dank and got a little repetitive but once again this is a small portion of the game so I can't fully judge just yet.

Overall I found it okay, I personally don't really go for hack n Slash game - I didn't even like the recent DMC5 which got rave reviews, I found it quite boring and could tell every moment there would be an incoming encounter. So a game in that style doesn't appeal to me, I think I want more story than the project is going to offer, which instead I imagine many corridors with enemies.
 
Okay. After probably forty attempts, Chaos was finally laid low on normal difficulty. But the actual boss name is "Chaos?" which seems to suggest maybe he isn't the real Chaos after all. Maybe we're the real Chaos all along! I don't just mean our angry boi protagonist Jack, but we the players! We've all a bit of Chaos inside us. Have you ever thought of that, hmm?

Time for Liv's impressions on the demo.

Pros
  • Overall it's a lot of fun. We can meme all day about virtually every other aspect of this game, but Team Ninja's put together something decent that's challenging yet still somewhat accessible that even a clumsy, hopeless eejit like me can just about manage to clear after enough perseverance (and luck!). Of course, as someone who doesn't play many hardcore action games, I can't compare what I've played with other titles in Team Ninja's stable, so I can't say if this is anywhere near the level of a Ninja Gaiden or Nioh game.
  • The jobs system can only go up from here with more depth and fleshing out, but the basics of what they've built so far is really solid. A good way to distinguish this title from a FromSoftware offering is being able to switch and adapt playstyles on the fly, depending on the opponent(s).
  • While a mixed-bag, I'm overall quite positive on the Soul Shield mechanic. The risk-reward factor of sacrificing chunks of your break gauge to absorb enemy attacks, replenish some of your MP bar, and occasionally absorb enemy attacks you can then fling back can be a lot of fun. It's dependent on getting the right timing down when parrying, and flinging enemy attacks back can be a great way to get rid of Bombs. Fling a Bomb's fire attack back at it three times and it can explode, taking out a good chunk of its buddies' health too.
  • For someone like me who haaaaates the prospect of not having a save/respawn point just before a boss room (as is the case with Souls games), I was so relieved to be able to respawn outside of Chaos's throne room whenever he kills me. None of that crap of having to race past rooms of respawned enemies again just to get to the boss. That's what I call respecting my time.
  • I love how the Mage/Black Mage can cancel out some of Chaos's moves by flinging an opposite magic spell at him. For instance, if Chaos in his first phase pulls out his fire sword, a quick Water spell extinguishes it, making his attacks less harmful and more manageable. It's a good bit of depth you can find by experimenting a little in combat.
Cons
  • The magic wheel is awful. It's a wheel containing each element and the intent is for the player to press R2 then tilt the analogue stick at the direction of the element on the wheel you want to cast a spell. The problem is, when you're in the middle of a hectic fight, it's so easy to accidentally cast the wrong spell from the wheel, and as a result waste a whole MP bar. At the very least pulling up the magic wheel should slow down the fight for a few seconds.
  • As stated by Vivi-Gamer, the stamina/break gauge thing can be a real mixed-bag. Whenever an enemy hits you, it chops down the gauge considerably and you'll have to back up and give it time to replenish. When it comes to the Chaos boss fight, it can really do your head in, because you want to use the Soul Shield mechanic here and there to replenish some MP and absorb some specific attacks, but it comes at the cost of using up a chunk of the gauge. And Chaos is quick as hell, so it's too easy to have the gauge be "broken". Once that happens, UNLESS your AI buddies draw aggro at that very moment, you're pretty much dead.
  • The AI party members serve next to no purpose except to occasionally draw enemy aggro. It came in clutch for me for Chaos's very difficult second phase; the fact they volunteered to be meat shields afforded me just the lucky opportunity to finish the boss off with a Firaga. But in most instances, they do nothing. They barely contribute any damage and they're easy to take down. When you walk near them, the game even asks if you want to use up one of your very finite potions to revive them. Absolutely not.
  • A tonne of loot drops and there's no button to automatically optimise equipment. You have to constantly open the menu and tweak the gear which can really break the pacing.
  • I find targeting to be awkward especially when there are loads of enemies on screen. That and a lot of enemies aren't very visually distinctive and it can be difficult to discern how many are in the room with you. I found that out when I tried to take on the room with the big pack of wolves.
  • The level design of the Chaos Shrine is like something out of a PS2 game. There is knee-high rubble that Jack can't vault over, so there's a bit of going the long way to navigate around obstacles that can easily be overcome with a jump button. It's shockingly linear and offers very little in the way of exploration. I can think of a single time when the game offers you two routes: one with all the Bombs and the other with a spawning handful of Goblins and a single Bomb. There's a single ladder that makes a single shortcut. And that's it. I really hope the full game has more interesting map design.
  • It runs like arse on PS5 even on performance mode. Stuttering, and frame drops are absolutely not what you want from a challenging action game especially on hardware like the PS5. Once again, I hope Team Ninja gets this sorted for release next year.
  • Everything else. The tone. The muddy visuals. The utterly unappealing art style. The character designs - mainly Jack. The horrifically poor writing and dialogue. The very fact Nomura thought it was a idea to make this the story of an angry man, as if angry men are somehow an underserved demographic in video games. But then again, it's so bad that it's almost charming in how totally lacking in self-awareness it is. It could potentially be something I'll enjoy ironically.
 
I'm very disappointed that they decided to take FF1 and just "retell" it in a new edgy dark way. This might've been as impressive in the PS3 era as this edgy dark mood would've worked. But this design looks a lot to be desired.

The problem is that we have a good example of what a darker FF1 would look like. FFXIV shows that very clearly what a darker FF1 would look like.

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As for the combat just doesn't look fun to me. In dark souls, the delay in attacks always made sense, attacks were heavy and slow because you could see the weight in the attack. There was a real wind-up. Attacks are in quick succession but they still have long times between them. From everyone I've seen playing, it seems to be based on endurance.

And lastly, the crystallization finishers just don't look impressive. This game feels like it's trying to mix God of War finishers, but God of War is more impressive as it uses brute force to literally tear limbs or other body parts apart. Stranger of Paradise tries to do the same effect but with crystallization and should strive to find its own crystallization finisher style. Such as concentration the finisher in the palm of their hand and when it's complete, crush it with a single squeeze.

It's not just that the character looks angry, the attack style and battles just don't feel methodical. I see a mindless brute who just wings every attack.
 
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