Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Review

Impressions from the Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins demo

At the presentation at E3, Square Enix presented the action game Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins. The trailer for the prequel of the very first «finale», in which three heroes — Jack, Ash and Jed — go to kill an ancient deity, quickly became a cause for jokes because of how many times the word «chaos» is repeated in it (eight times).

A little later, a demo version (broken at first) was released on the PS5, which includes one level for a couple of hours and one boss battle. We passed the demo, and now we share our impressions and tell you what Stranger of Paradise is.

Well, it’s Nioh. Not without its own chips, of course, but mountains of multicolored loot, graphics and interface evoke corresponding associations. Also, of course, there are analogies with the Souls series, although a whole genre has been drawn here for a long time, so it’s stupid to blame these similarities.

However, for a «soulslike» Stranger of Paradise is very friendly to the player. The battles are difficult in places, but they are not particularly punished for death here — they are only thrown back to the last analogue of the «bonfire» with the revival of all defeated enemies. There is no need to run to your own corpse for «souls».

What is needed is to restore your mana strip, which is reduced after death and on which a healthy layer of gameplay mechanics is based. Initially, the hero has only two divisions, grabbing, in fact, for two spells or techniques. To increase the MP limit, you need to finish off opponents in a special way: first stun, then come close and click on the «circle». Then Jack will famously tear the wolf’s mouth or, say, tear off the skeleton’s head, simultaneously restoring part of the mana reserve and increasing its scale.

Finishing is not spectacular — the camera does not always focus on them, and if it does, then red crystals bursting out from everywhere interfere with seeing something, the nature of which is not disclosed in the demo. However, they should not be neglected either: firstly, finishing off well accelerates skirmishes; secondly, scoring on tearing off the wings of all the bats you meet, you risk being left without mana, which is critical not only for a magician, but also for a warrior.

Speaking of classes. Here they repeat professions familiar to fans of «finalok». There are six of them in the demo: three basic (swordsman, sorcerer, spearman) and three «advanced» (warrior, black magician, dragoon). The first ones open just like that, in the course of passing, but the second ones are unlocked separately in the pumping tree. It is different for each class, with passive bonuses to characteristics, melee techniques, as well as improvements for the main class skill.

The latter also differ from profession to profession: a warrior, for example, is able to impose a healing aura on himself, and a magician — well, he creates spells. Casting them, by the way, is not too convenient; it takes an indecent amount of time to read some Firaga or Aeroga, the character cannot move, and any poke takes Jack out of mystical ecstasy, so you have to start over.

But this is not a minus, but rather a matter of skill and personal preferences. Stranger of Paradise does not force the user into the framework of the class chosen once, so if you do not like playing for the same magician, then you can switch to, for example, a dragoon at any time. Fortunately, professions are pumped independently of each other and, despite the skill tree, linearly — by the maximum level 30 you will unlock all skills. Therefore, it will not work to «screw up» the development of the hero.

In general, there are a lot of subtleties of the combat system, loot and pumping in Stranger of Paradise, and some things, like the ability to give combos spontaneous damage, are not available in the demo. And yet, even the awareness of the complexity of the game systems does not allow you to have fun or catch some kind of excitement.

There is too much of all kinds of equipment here and it is too faceless to purposefully hunt for something specific (at least in the demo). And the farm itself, battles, do not bring joy. It’s hard for me to explain what’s going on here and, quite likely, it’s something personal, but managing Jack is simply unpleasant.

I don’t want to say that Jack is clumsy — on the contrary, in skillful hands he rushes around the arenas, God forbid — but something in his animations and the lack of any weight prevents you from feeling the character. Where Nioh and, sorry, Dark Souls were forced to learn to control the hero and move correctly, Stranger of Paradise makes you memorize button combinations.

This does not mean that positioning is not important, but if you simplify the description of the problem to a cliche, then in Final Fantasy Origin not every death is the result of your mistake. Sometimes animations are to blame for everything — discrete and poorly readable.

The technical part of the game as a whole is not very good. The models and the environment themselves are unsightly, so there are also «ladders» everywhere, and from local reflections, which are rendered hardly 1/8 of the total resolution, it literally begins to ripple in the eyes. But the game still manages to noticeably slow down at some points.

However, all this can be corrected by the release — Stranger of Paradise warns at the first launch that development is still underway, and the final version will look different. But the plot is not so simple. The crazy, overly pretentious trailer was preparing for a naive, but wild adventure. Not very serious, but not an outright farce either.

The segment presented in the demo in this regard is somewhat disappointing and suggests the crazy idea that the authors themselves take their story too seriously. There are few cut scenes, the characters talk to each other quite rarely, and even the word «chaos» is pronounced only five times here.

I don’t know how things are going on, but from what I’ve seen, it seems that the writers are desperately afraid to overreact where it’s appropriate. Without the fumes, the three main characters look bland, and the story itself is strained and dramatic. At one time, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT from the same Team Ninja sinned in a similar way.



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