Some 35 years have passed since the release of the original Final Fantasy, and fans of the RPG series will be able to return to Cornelia once again thanks to : Final Fantasy Origins of Stranger in Paradise. The spinoff of the mainline Final Fantasy series departs from the usual role-playing game format to offer players a challenging action gaming experience and a new take on one of the series’ most iconic locations and villains.
SOPFFO puts players in control of Jack, the leader of a group of heroes who are all bound together by their obsession with hunting down and killing Chaos (a goal that spawned a lot of Chaos memes when the first trailer was released). The story is filled with characters and locations that hardcore fans of the original Final Fantasy will surely recognize. Many friendly and not-so-friendly NPCs mirror characters from the original. That said, the game’s story is completely self-contained and still makes sense to new audiences (as does the Final Fantasy games).
In terms of gameplay, the combination of RPG elements like leveling up loot and working your way through a series of talent trees (one for each job) with Souls-like tough combat and mapless exploration does make for a very fun and exciting game loop for the players Doesn’t have to be dedicated to one job (Final Fantasy version of the job), and can freely switch between each job at any time during the dungeon. During the battle, the player equips two jobs and can switch between them with just one click Switching back and forth between. Double-job matchmaking makes for some interesting strategic choices (especially on harder difficulty levels) as players try to optimize their parties for each boss.
For those who are intimidated by the idea of challenging action combat, it should be noted that the game includes three difficulty levels on the first playthrough, including one that basically turns strategic combat into a fairly simple hack-and-slash story mode. Story mode players still need to watch their health and use potions wisely, but mastering parries and fighting enemies with ideal weaknesses and combat tactics is less important. Action Mode and Hard Mode, on the other hand, really bring the heat up and offer extremely challenging battle formations. Seriously deadly monsters around every corner, and multi-stage boss fights at the end of each level require careful practice, timing, and strategy to succeed. The game also includes three-player co-op, allowing players to team up and complete the game’s main and side quests together. At launch, crossplay is limited to the console series.
Exploration and world-building in Final Fantasy Origin is a bit complicated. The player travels linearly between the main mission locations through the overview world map. There’s a completely optional opportunity to interact with NPCs in each location via the “talk” option on the world map, but beyond that, there’s no way to really explore the lore or flavor of each location other than playing the mission . It should also be noted that each mission can be replayed (on any difficulty) to hone experience or items. In each mission, there is no map, and the player must traverse a maze of dungeons filled with hidden doors, traps, monsters, and treasure. We found ourselves turning around a bit unnecessarily, constantly trying to find the right door or ladder, especially in the last few levels, but overall the level design is flavorful and engaging despite a few frustrating moments Powerful. Using any of the game’s save points–the cube equivalent of a Dark Souls bonfire–respawns all enemies in the level and makes exploring more tedious.
Jack, his friends, and the royal family of Cornelia are at the heart of the game, and getting players without the usual RPG experience to invest in this large group of characters is quite the task at hand. There are a few cutscenes that start and end each level, and banter during the dungeon crawl, but overall it would have been nice if there had been more character development and relationship building between Jack and the others. The final act of the game really hinges on the player’s emotional investment in Jack and his connection to the world, some of these hits don’t hit as hard as they could have if more time had been spent watching Jack and his friends explore the world The game Dungeon Dangers Beyond.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin seems to prove that the Final Fantasy series can thrive in the action game scene with Team Ninja and Koei Tecmo’s first series adventure. The title isn’t a true home run, but it’s an exciting adventure that expands the franchise’s lore in a unique direction. The Final Fantasy Job system is as fun and exciting as ever, and adds a unique twist to the action game format as players progress through each challenging dungeon and populate all the Job talent trees one by one.
Strangers in Paradise : Final Fantasy Origins launches March 18 for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S. Game Rant obtained a PS5 copy for this review.