The first Final Fantasy game saved Square Enix from bankruptcy all those years ago when it was released. Its legacy, and even its name, is a symbol of how big things can happen after years of tireless effort and grind. Though the myth of the name was debunked, it’s still a cool thing to ponder over the years. Now though, Team Ninja decides to explore the story of the first Final Fantasy game while adding in their new twists. This is Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Here is our review of the latest game in the Final Fantasy series.
What Is Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin?
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action RPG created by Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja and released by Square Enix. The game is made to celebrate Final Fantasy’s 35th anniversary and is an AU Prequel to the original NES Final Fantasy. The game’s storyline follows several characters that were brought into the game’s world so that they’ll defeat a malevolent force known as Chaos.
The game was released on March 18, 2022, for PC, Xbox 1, Xbox Series X/S, PS4, and PS5.
‘Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’ Review
Now that we’ve given an overview of the game, let’s start our review of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Gameplay Review
In terms of gameplay, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin takes a few things from Team Ninja’s Nioh series as well as the recently released Final Fantasy VII Remake. The player isn’t placed on an open-world map. Instead, they have a map similar to Nioh where they choose missions that they’ll complete for experience, new loot, and story beats. All in all, a pretty refined system from the Nioh games that they ported over to Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin.
In the case of Final Fantasy, Ninja Theory added a Job system, which has its unique skill sets based on the ones in contemporary Final Fantasy games. Players can equip 2 Jobs at the same time and swap between them mid-combat. We’ll talk more about the available Jobs later as they come. but for now, let’s continue talking about combat.
Review of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’s Combat System
Some people say that Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a souls-like game. And in a sense, that’s correct. However, it would be more accurate to say that the developers of the game took some aspects of the Souls series and puts them into the game’s combat system. However, the similarities are pretty superficial, and can only be seen by a keen eye.
In actuality, the game’s combat has more in common with the Nioh games as well as Final Fantasy VII Remake. For one, it’s decidedly faster-paced compared to any Souls Game other than Elden Ring, and that’s a bit of a stretch given Elden Ring’s build variety. The Nioh games always had an emphasis on ensuring that the player’s various weapons have their unique movesets. When they’re used correctly, they’ll be able to kick ass with any of them.
The precise usage of weaponry and abilities is key to victory, which is also what’s on Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Combine this with the various abilities and spells the player has and you can have a real blast. Depending on what Job the player currently has, the methods vary on how to use them.
Using some abilities usually means doing specific actions when attacking, like doing three light attacks and then a special, et cetera. Spells, on the other hand, can be cast in quick succession so long as the player has the mana to spare. That, or they can be held for a bit to use stronger variants.
A standout thing about Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is the Break Gauge. In Stranger of Paradise, the Break Gauge can be seen as a gold bar underneath an enemy’s HP. Break that with attacks and they’ll be open to a vicious special move that will delete their HP. However, the player also has their Break Gauge meter located at the bottom of their screen. It only shows up when the player is damaged or is using Soul Shield. Getting damaged drains this meter a set amount while using Soul Shield will constantly drain the meter until it’s gone.
This means that the management of this meter is key if the player wants to do some stylish stuff in the game. Soul Shield is really strong here, as it allows the player to obtain powerful Instant Abilities that they can use against enemies. There are even some abilities that allow players to regain their Break Gauge. Paladins, in particular, have a great time with this, as their Break Gauge management combined with parrying allow them to be unstoppable, unkillable juggernauts.
Review of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’s Job Classes
The next thing we need to talk about is the various Jobs available to the player on Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. There are 28 jobs in the game and all of them are divided into 3 categories: Basic, Advanced, and Expert Jobs. Basic Jobs are obtained the moment the player equips a specific weapon type. Meanwhile, advancing the Basic Job skill trees will allow the player to unlock Advanced Jobs. And lastly, Expert Jobs are unlocked by obtaining specific nodes on the skill trees of Advanced Jobs.
Do note that there are specific combinations that are needed to unlock the Advanced and Expert Jobs in this game. We’ll point them out when we get to them, so just sit tight, here are the various Jobs in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origins:
The default job of the game’s main character is unlocked automatically by equipping a greatsword. It’s the early-game hard hitter class that specializes in wide swings to deal damage. Do note that because of this, they sacrifice a lot of mobility, so learning parries is a must. Their Job Action is Spinning Slash.
Next is Duelist, which relies on fast dodges to get around enemies and kill them with dual daggers. Critical hits are their friend but unless they crit their damage is low. Their Job Action is called Weak Spot.
Lancer is unlocked by equipping a lance and is the midrange fighter of the bunch. It also has a long-range attack in the form of its Job Action, Lance Hurl, which works exactly as advertised.
A similar enough class to the Swordsman except for the ability to use shields and a drop in damage output. Can be attained by equipping a Sword. Its Job Ability is Interception, a powerful counterattack when active. Interception ends when it’s triggered once or after some time.
A class that focuses on powerful Iai-Strikes that destroy enemy guards. Can be fully charged to increase damage. As per usual with this class, it can be unlocked by equipping a katana.
Uses an ax to deliver devastating blows to its enemies while also dealing some potent debuffs. The debuff part is through their Job Ability, Upheaval, which reduces enemy damage dealt. Can be charged to deal more damage and inflict a more potent damage reduction.
A hand-to-hand job that deals fast-paced blows with their fists. Its Job Action is Explosive Fist that delivers a devastating blow. Players can hold the Ability Button to deal more punches.
Equipping a mace gives the Mage job, giving players a melee option in addition to magic. Do note that casting magic stops your movement, so keep a close eye on terrain and enemy placement.
Unlocked by going through the Swordsman and Swordfighter path and can use both swords and greatswords. Its Job Ability is the Blessing of Light, which causes a shockwave to emit from the player when guarding successfully.
This is one of the tankiest Advanced Jobs available due to its high HP, but also really good at damaging enemies. Has access to greatswords and axes and can use the Berserk Job Ability, giving extra HP and stagger damage at the expense of their stagger resistance. Requires Swordsman and Marauder classes to unlock.
A more offensive-oriented mage with access to several powerful spells, only requires the Mage class to unlock.
A more powerful and refined version of the Ronin class is required to unlock it. Has access to the Meikyo-Shisui Job Ability which increases MP-Recovery from attacks and restores MP when the Samurai parries temporarily. Getting staggered ends Meikyo-Shisui.
A combination class of Swordfighter and Mage with the best of both worlds. The class combination gives Red Mages the ability to use swords as well as maces. They have access to the Chainspell Job Ability which allows them to chain spells in quick succession.
A support-oriented mage with access to several healing/support spells. Only requires the Mage class to unlock.
A combo class from Pugilist and Lancer, and a terrifying hand-to-hand DPS. They can recover HP and Break Gauge at the cost of MP through their Focus Job Action.
A Lancer and Marauder class combo that focuses on heavy damage and evading enemies. Has access to the Jump Job Action, leaping high in the air before descending to deal massive damage.
An all-rounder combatant with the Swordfighter and Ronin class combo uses a variety of weapons well and has access to the War Cry Job Action, which damages enemies and gives HP regen.
A class combo from Pugilist and Duelist which focuses on CQC and has the Steal Job Action. Steal works exactly as advertised and gives the player a chance to nick an instant ability from an enemy combatant.
The perfect combo between White and Black Mages and can use their magicks with the use of their Job Ability Magic Seal. Every time the player casts a White or Black Magic spell they’ll obtain an emblem of the corresponding color. More White/Black Emblems means faster cast time on the corresponding magic type.
A combination of the Monk and Thief Classes that makes quick work on enemies with critical hits. With each critical hit, they mark an enemy, and they can then use their Assassinate Job Ability to burst down their HP. With each mark on an enemy, the more damage Assassinate deals.
An offensive powerhouse that’s a combination of Warrior, Berserker, and Black Mage. Deals massive damage and can buff this even more through their Souleater Job Ability, which consumes HP to give their attacks additional Dark Damage. Souleater is also toggleable, so it can be a clutch ability to burst down certain enemies.
The combination of Samurai and Thief Classes. A master of Ninjutsu that uses close-range combat and tools to decimate enemies. Has the Ninjutsu Job Ability that can unleash specific skills that cost Ninja Tools instead of MP to cast. Ninja Tools can be replenished on cubes in the middle of a mission.
A master of magic and knightly steel, Void Knight is a combination of Red Mage and Knight classes. They have access to the Runic Job Ability, which allows them to absorb magic attacks before sending them back to their enemies as a devastating counterattack. They can also use the absorbed magic attacks to restore their MP, allowing them to cast commands and abilities more.
A soul-burst devastator that combines the Samurai, Berserker, and Dragoon Classes. Deals massive damage to enemies while regaining MP for jobs like Sages. Zantetsuken is its Job Ability, which swings a massive blade that can be charged to deal even more damage. Enemies that are brought to 0 HP will immediately be Soul Bursted regenerating extra MP for the player’s use.
An incredibly tough Job class that prides itself in ensuring that the enemy will never kill them. Paladin is unlocked by combining the White Mage and Knight classes and this combination dishes pain while also staying alive. Their Job Ability, Holy Fang, restores HP every time they land a hit. In addition, Holy Fang deals extra Holy Damage based on the Paladin’s max HP when they have full HP. It’s also toggleable.
If you ever want to swing weapons enchanted with the elements, then try out the Tyrant. A combination of Monk and Red Mage, Tyrants have the Enchant Job Ability, which does exactly as advertised to the user’s weaponry.
Liberators are the weapon generalists on Stranger of Paradise, as they can use all weapons in the game. A combination of Warrior and Dragoon, their Job Ability, Mighty Guard, not only gives reduces damage taken by allies in an area but also restores HP. As a cool addition, it’s also toggleable, making the Liberator a great addition to a multiplayer party.
And lastly, we have Cyclic Warrior, which can only be unlocked by beating the game on any difficulty. This job is difficult to master but incredibly satisfying to see. Its Job Ability, Soul of Chaos, allows the player to attack with one of 4 elemental attacks. Either Inferno, Earthquake, Whirlwind, or Tsunami. Using the Soul of Chaos Job Action reduces the player’s maximum MP though, but it can be regained using different skill and ability combinations.
The game is set earlier in the stable time loop of the original Final Fantasy Game. The player controls Jack, a Warrior of Light and deconstruction of the 90’s Anti-Hero trope who doesn’t have a lot of his memories straight. His goal, alongside the 4 other Warriors of Light is to kill Chaos. However, there are a lot of things about the whole thing that the protagonists don’t know about, and events are being done behind the scenes.
There are a lot of really cool lore implications for the first game if the player pays attention to the story. Yes, the gameplay can be a bit on the rough side until the player finds their bearings. But if you have a keen eye, and are a fan of the Final Fantasy series, then there are a lot of things said and implicated in the game that takes a gander at the original Final Fantasy’s premise. Still, there will be no spoilers in this article as the player might want to play the game on their own to find out about it.
As stated, the game is made of various missions that send the players to different locales. Each of these locales looks pretty good and has a set design to them, and they look great overall. There are some missions set in darker locales, and in those cases, they can be pretty hard to see in or even navigate. However, they’re also pretty linear, with a pretty clear start and finish on their progression, similar to Nioh, but they have nooks and crannies with secrets to find.
Sound Design-wise, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is pretty hard-hitting. The game is over the top when it comes to its action sequences and the sound of the various things happening on the screen is translated well.
One of the best things that Nioh 2 had was the ability to progress the game’s main story together with friends. On Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, this is kept. Players can join up with 2 others to do various stages and missions together, defeating enemies and tackling bosses.
Stranger of Paradise vs Final Fantasy VII Remake
Now that we’ve done our review of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, let’s compare it to an older Final Fantasy Game. Specifically, Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Final Fantasy VII Remake
The main difference between Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has with FF VII Remake is combat. It could be said that the combat on Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a faster version of Final Fantasy VII Remake. On VII Remake, the game is more deliberate. Each action requires the player to plan out several moves in advance against an enemy that fights back while they’re planning. It’s a cool evolution of the standard Turn-Based gameplay of the previous games in the series that adds a lot to the game’s charm and level of mastery.
On the other hand, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has faster, more frenetic combat in part due to Ninja Theory’s experiences. The game puts players on a looping dervish of violence when doing melee, while also giving them cool spell-slinging if they wish.
Abilities have a lot of impact on both games, but in Stranger of Paradise, this is even more apparent due to the job combinations. The game just hands players several jobs en masse that can then be used in succession due to Job Swapping. This adds a lot of build variety and viability, as each job has something for everyone and can be very useful in a lot of situations.
Stranger of Paradise vs Similar Games
Next in our Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin review, we need to talk about other games like Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. We’ll start with the Nioh series, followed by Code Vein, and lastly, Mortal Shell.
Ninja Theory’s Nioh Series is a hidden gem that had a really big time in the spotlight after its found by players. The first game is set in Japan a few years after Nobunaga’s death, and it’s in the middle of a really brutal war. Your character, a foreigner by the name of William Adams, follows Edward Kelley to Japan after Edward takes William’s guardian spirit Saoirse.
The player makes use of various weapons and stances to defeat various enemies. In addition to this, they have a Guardian Spirit that they can equip, giving bonuses to William’s abilities. The game took some aspects of the Souls series and made it its while also carving a niche for itself in the genre. Overall, a really good game to play and get alongside its Sequel, Nioh 2.
Next on the list is Code Vein, another Action RPG with Souls elements that takes a more vampirey twist to it. The player is a Revenant, a super vampire that resurrects when they die and are way more powerful. They can walk in the sunlight after all, but most of all, they have access to Blood Codes, powerful abilities tailor-made for each Revenant.
The player is then tasked with exploring the land to find a way for Revenants to live in peace. This is a pretty difficult task because Revenants need Blood Beads/blood to survive, and the springs that make Blood Beads are drying up. All in all, if you’re looking for more anime Dark Souls with some sprinkling of cool finisher move shenanigans, then try out Code Vein.
Last but not least is Mortal Shell. Mortal Shell is a unique take on the Souls formula. This is due to the power to harden, as well as body-swapping with certain Shells. The 4 Shells of this game each have their abilities and stats that the player can make use of to navigate the world. When discovered, the player can swap between these shells to get different abilities to surmount new challenges.
Story-wise, the game follows the usual Souls formula of not telling everything. Instead, reveals snippets with dialogue, pause screens, and item descriptions. It’s not a deal-breaker though, as the game’s unique mechanics carry it hard, no pun intended. Hardening functions as the game’s parry, and the player has to master it because there’s little healing to be found in Mortal Shell. Overall, if you have a good head on your shoulders, you can thrive in this game, and it can help in developing the player’s propensity to parry thanks to the Harden mechanic.
Is Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin a Must-Play FF Game?
Overall, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a pretty decent game with some interesting mechanics and a cool story. Said story also adds a lot of context to the first Final Fantasy game. It also reveals a bigger bad later on that got its comeuppance later in the game. Overall, it’s a good prequel and a decent game.