Initial release date: March 15, 2022
Steam Release: April 6, 2023
Writer: Kazushige Nojima
Composer: Naoshi Mizuta
Series: Final Fantasy
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Team Ninja, Koei Tecmo, Square Enix
Publishers: SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD., Square Enix
"Review Copy Provided By Square-Enix"
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Review - A Stylish and Unconventional Adventure
"Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin" introduces Jack Garland, an unforgettable hero who takes on enemies with brutal, adrenaline-pumping moves. The game initially faced criticism for its adult language and callbacks to the original Final Fantasy, but it has since proven itself to be a captivating experience. The story of "Stranger of Paradise" is an enigma, with some calling it a remake or a prequel to the original Final Fantasy. Square-Enix considers it an alternate take on the original game while also hinting at a full remake. Ultimately, the game is a reimagining of the original, expanding the basic story with a more intricate narrative and Tetsuya Nomura-style aesthetics.
Jack Garland's mission is to "kill Chaos," and he is joined by companions Jed, Ash, Neon, and two other Warriors of Light. The game raises questions about its connection to the original Final Fantasy while maintaining a surreal atmosphere, keeping players engaged in its retelling.
"Stranger of Paradise" borrows elements from the "Soulslike" genre but is more accessible than games like Elden Ring. Its controls are reminiscent of Nioh, Nioh 2, Ninja Gaiden, and Devil's Third, making for an action-packed gaming experience. The game offers a variety of combat moves, emphasizing experimentation and customization. Jack's brutal finishers are reminiscent of God of War, Gears of War, and Mortal Kombat, adding to the game's fierce charm.
The incorporation of the Final Fantasy series' Job System sets "Stranger of Paradise" apart from the Nioh series, providing numerous classes and an extensive skill tree for each one. The enemy variety is impressive, with challenging battles and relentless foes. An online multiplayer feature allows for cooperative dungeon crawling with friends. The game's main weakness is its excessive loot system, which can be overwhelming and requires constant inventory management.
Visually, "Stranger of Paradise" looks somewhat dated, but its environments and effects are stunning. The voice acting is solid, providing a sense of camaraderie among the main characters. The game's environments are inspired by previous Final Fantasy titles and look great in well-lit areas. However, darker sections can be difficult to see, even after adjusting display settings.
The game runs smoothly at 60 fps, but performance drops significantly at 120 fps, especially during enemy-shattering Soul Bursts. When it comes to playing the game on Steam Deck, its a very mixed bag with performance with a frame rate that fluctates from 60fps down to 35fps with occasional times when the game will crash and shut down your Deck. Its woth keeping in mind that the game isn't verified on Deck but it is somewhat playable without any Protons, but I do recommend you turn on Proton Experimental to get the videos and ingame tutorials to work.
Despite its flaws, "Stranger of Paradise" is a stylish and delightfully absurd adventure. Its engaging combat, varied environments, and customizable playstyle and difficulty level make it a standout Final Fantasy title, even with its darker style. While it features one of the most dynamic combat systems in the series, its underdeveloped story and cast make it a shallower addition. This rough-around-the-edges, B-movie take on the series is an enjoyable and fascinating reimagining of the classic adventure that started it all.