Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin First impression: good, goofy fun

The first 15 minutes of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin diverged from a cutscene in which a monstrously armored figure slays knights and kidnaps a princess into a six-headed dragon on a spaceship. And it’s just warming up.

The main character, Jack, then walks through a dreamy golden wheat field as Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. Then the scene cuts through when Jack (Jack, not the Chairman of the Board) meets two other dudes in a medieval town, and the three decide to go on an adventure together – because they’re both. possess the same type of stone. .

It’s a feverish dream start, and the fact that all this is wrapped up in a thrilling and, at times, intense action RPG leaves you feeling all the more delirious. From where it started, Stranger of Paradise make me go crazy.

Team Ninja, the Koei Tecmo subsidiary responsible for the Nioh series, unexpectedly partnered with Square Enix as one of the creative forces behind this Final Fantasy spinoff. Stranger of Paradise does not use the turn-based combat that the Final Fantasy series is known for, nor does it use turn-based combat like Final Fantasy 7 remake. This is a monster full of soul, with nail-hard bosses that you have to take down with old-fashioned melee attacks.

Stranger of ParadiseThe bloody, dark, and tough aesthetic kept me fighting my way through maze levels seething with monsters. As a Final Fantasy fan, I’m not sure I’m ready for this. But despite Team Ninja’s dense action-game loop, I still found the battle approachable. Combined with the scattered story and absurd character moments, its pace was more than enough to make me howl throughout my scrolling.

jed and ashes hold stones for jacking. They said that the stones attract each other so they all decided to form groups.

Jed and Ash meet Jack for the first time in the game. Apparently guys make friends by having the same rock.
Image: Koei Tecmo / Square Enix

The fight will make you as reassuring as the gruff Jack. The game introduces a “Soul Shield”, which is essentially a block generator that allows you to fend off both melee and magic attacks without having to take down a block on time. When fighting, you are allowed to dash and swing your sword unlimitedly and not limited by stamina. Your party members also join you to fight the enemy. Cherry on top? You also have five potions that are replenished every time you “touch the cubes”, which function as checkpoints in each level.

Like other Final Fantasy games, Stranger of Paradise pits you against bigger-than-life bosses – a six-headed dragon here, an elemental god there, and even a zombie dragon that exudes a tar-like substance. The boss battles require focused play, but the cubes placed right in front of their lair make it easy to try again and again. Fights, when done properly, don’t last long. If you die, the game will even provide some tips for defeating the boss.

A pirate boss in a strange paradise. apparently he is the mayor of the town

This fiery pirate appears to be the de facto mayor of a town.
Image: Koei Tecmo / Square Enix

Stranger of ParadiseThe story follows Jack and four of his countrymen on a quest to kill Chaos – although it’s not entirely clear what “Chaos” actually means. Many key characters, including team member Neon (whose silver hair and slim face came out of the game Yoko Taro), assert that Chaos is just a fairy tale. Jack said “bullshit”, put on his little Bluetooth headset, put on some rock music and kept going.

He travels across environments repeating the story’s deep thematic questions; Think, for example, of “the coexistence of light and darkness.” Deep caverns reveal mushrooms that sparkle like corals with bioluminescent light. A sunny forest can turn stormy when touched by a glowing orb. A dark castle with sparkling bright blue decoration. And the threatening inhabitants of these environments are much different. They range from pirates to fantasy hippos to sci-fi inspired soldier-like robots.

Unlike his handsome predecessor, Cloud Strife, Jack’s eyes don’t sparkle with ability; his face has a scar or two. Jack was blunt, emotionless, and strangely strong. So strong that he could grab a troll the size of a small car with his arm, smash it to the ground, and kill it. Even when he was drenched in blood from head to toe, Jack never complained. When he died, he just said, “This sucks.” (And it absolutely does.)

Stranger of ParadiseCombat also features over-the-top finishing moves, which you can activate after accurately breaking the enemy’s stamina gauge. Each type of enemy is terminated in a unique scene; When the enemy shatters, bloody crystals spill out. After these executions, a bloody Jack simply walked away, unaffected by all.

Stranger of Paradise complements its action-adventure pitfalls with Final Fantasy’s tried and true job system. Players can switch between jobs such as Swordfighter, Ronin, Pugilist, and Mage, each with their own weapons and unique stat rewards. This means that menus are king in this game. If you’re looking to trade in the best gear and update your skill tree, you’ll probably scroll through the menu every time you reach a checkpoint. The maps are littered with dozens of items, including armor and weapons, and you’ll accumulate them quickly. (Less than eight hours after playing through, I hit the max 500 item limit.)

So, Stranger of ParadiseThe game’s biggest failure is how the gameplay depends on the menu. For example, you select levels from a map, but you know nothing about the world it shows. Curiously, cutscenes and other story-driven content are also accessed from the main menu, rather than within the world itself, which is what I’d expect from a traditional Final Fantasy game. The menu-based narrative makes the game feel a bit incomplete.

jack using the soul shield. it glows red.

Jack uses the Soul Shield.
Image: Koei Tecmo / Square Enix

Despite Jack’s personality and the exaggeration of the game world, Stranger of Paradise does interrupt some of its more intense scenes with light moments – companion Jed might joke about peeing, or the party might be ambushed by a resurrecting cactus . There is also an amphibian-looking mage named Master Tonberry (whom longtime fans may recognize from Final Fantasy 7). However, there’s more to this comedy to balance Jack. His bluff behavior forms the butt of the saddest joke, which is that he really is the bad guy.

From the beginning we know Jack is Jack Garland, the villain in the first Final Fantasy game. Stranger of Paradise mostly about a character who calls himself a hero of the light, but then goes on a dark path. As I played through the game, I summed up how he went from trying to be a hero, to being the kidnapper of the bastard in the beginning of the game. The confusing and chaotic aspects of the game – like the random jumps in the story and the humorous moments of the characters – pushed me forward as I reveled in its fascinating world. But other than that, I’m just questioning what’s really going on.

a six-headed black dragon in the stranger of heaven: the ultimate fantasy origin

Image: Koei Tecmo / Square Enix

Jack’s path eclipses the idea of ​​the infallible hero and it’s refreshing. Spager of Paradise cut through all the BS that hides the super-masculinity that dominates who and what we define as a hero. At the beginning of the game, the Queen of the land tells Jack to smile or scare her daughter. He doesn’t smile. But moments like this, and the brutal fighting, show how Jack is a caricature of the strong, silent type. He knew nothing of chivalry and didn’t realize he was about to become the very monster he sought to destroy.

I didn’t expect to like banging the heads of monsters like this. I also didn’t expect to enjoy a story about a super manly man like Jack. But what I’ve learned in my time Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Jack is not a knight in shining armor. He’s better.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins released on March 8 on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One and Xbox Series X. These impressions are written with download code provided by Square Enix. Vox Media has an affiliate partnership. These do not affect editorial content, although Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased through affiliate links. You can find Additional information on Polygon’s ethics policy can be found here. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin First impression: good, goofy fun


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