Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin – Review
Follow Genre: Hack and Slash, ARPG
Developer: Team Ninja
Publisher: Square Enix
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
Tested on: PS5

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Original concept for the series, Satisfying combat, Classes
Bad: A bit clunky at times, Convoluted menus and tutorials
User Score
0
(0 votes)
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You only notice how fast time flies when you realize a popular series of games is already 35 years old. This is the case for Final Fantasy, of which the first game was released way back in 1987 for the very first Nintendo Entertainment System. The game proved to be a success, and over the years many sequels and spin-offs were made. The most recent spin-off was Chocobo GP, which sadly proved to be a disappointment. Now, however, we’ll be taking a closer look at the reimagining of the very first game in the series. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin puts us back at the starting point of the franchise, albeit in a different format, as the traditional RPG mechanics are replaced with hack and slash gameplay. While the game had some rough edges, we quite enjoyed playing through this one.

Story

The story of the game is actually quite unclear at the beginning. You’ll start off with a party of three heroes who are hellbent on destroying Chaos. The game doesn’t really explain who or what Chaos is, and you’ll also soon learn that the characters all suffer from amnesia. After the first big encounter, the party will find its fourth member. This then fulfills the requirements of the prophecy that states that four legendary heroes will appear to defeat the aforementioned Chaos. The game then builds up its story via short cutscenes and a few dialogues here and there.

We have to be honest and state that the story didn’t immediately captivate us, but the overall atmosphere of the game did in fact draw us in. The brooding atmosphere of the game, as well as the nicely made cinematics, drew us in further, and we were eventually rewarded with more and more interesting story segments that eventually fleshed out the game’s narrative in a better way. Fans of other Final Fantasy titles might find the story exposition a bit slow, but the series has had slow storytelling in some of its other games as well.

Graphics

We tried the PS5 version of Stranger of Paradise, and even though the game never truly pushes the boundaries of Sony’s latest console, the game does look very good. It’s clear that this is a game that was still designed with the last-gen consoles in mind as well, but even so, the cinematics are done in a true Final Fantasy kind of fashion, and everything does look very crisp. We only found some design flaws during certain conversations, where some movements felt a bit janky. Other than that, we loved the world design, we enjoyed the different armor and weapon models, and even in the fairly linear levels, it was fun to stop for a moment and take in the scenery.

Sound

The sound design is quite good. We did find the soundtrack to be a bit less memorable than other entries in the series, but as a whole, the game comes with a fairly cinematic backdrop. The voice acting is also nicely handled, but we did notice a few syncing errors when it came to the subtitles and the voiced dialogues. Other than that, the sound effects sound crisp and they are also very fitting.

Gameplay

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action RPG that plays more like a hack and slash game, with several complex mechanics thrown in the mix. The game will have you play through reasonably short linear levels while hacking your way through many enemies to eventually try and defeat Chaos, and of course, find a lot of loot. The offset is quite simple, as you control Jack, the party leader, and you get to choose what class suits your playstyle best. As you go, you’ll unlock more classes that play differently, and you can always combine two classes giving you a bigger variety of moves at your disposal. You can always swap classes when you are no longer content with your current setup.

As mentioned above, the game does have many classes to choose from, ranging from melee classes to spellcasters who are a bit less sturdy in melee battles. The game does give you plenty of options to choose from but the inventory management system is somewhat of a drag. It’s hard to properly manage your items, and the auto-equip button, which supposedly picks the best items for you, isn’t always that accurate. More than once this function equipped items that were very good for a melee class onto our spellcaster and vice versa. Stranger of Paradise struggles a bit in its menu design, but also when it comes to delivering its tutorials, which often make things more complex than they are.

Controlling the game goes quite nicely, even though it sometimes feels like you’re just mashing buttons. The spellcaster classes also take some time to get used to, as targetting enemies isn’t always that precise or easy. That being said, the developers did a good job translating the old school mechanics to a more modern hack and slash approach. We enjoyed experimenting with different builds, and we are pretty sure that every type of player will find a few classes that perfectly fit their playstyle.

Conclusion

If you’re going to dive in and expect a Final Fantasy experience as you know from the other games you’ll probably end up disappointed. If you dive in with an open mind and love hack and slash action, then you’ll quite enjoy what this game has to offer. We loved the many battles the game put us through, as well as its overall atmosphere, and the options we had in terms of character classes. The game’s potential was held back by its convoluted menus, its annoying inventory systems, and tutorials that made the game feel more complex than it actually was. If you’re looking for a game that oozes a Final Fantasy atmosphere but spices up the gameplay with short action-packed levels, then you’re going to appreciate this reimagining of the very first Final Fantasy.

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Ibuki


Aspiring ninja.

1 Comment

  1. […] sees the release of Square Enix’s Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’s first expansion. Titled Trials of the Dragon King, this exciting new DLC was developed in […]

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