Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin Review
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin quickly became a source of quality meme material after it was first announced last year due to its obsession with a certain 5 letter word. It was a very different take, one that would eventually lead to comparisons to Nioh thanks to Team Ninja’s involvement in the game.
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin’s premise is simple and straightforward – go out and kill Chaos. You are Jack Garland, a gruff and emotionless hero who knows nothing else but to hunt down Chaos. Leading a team of ragtag party members, some of who you meet while walking down a dusty road, agreeing to join the Chaos hunt and sealing it with a fist bump.
The game is ridiculous and oftentimes cringe-worthy when it comes to dialogue and story beats, but Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin has a lot going for it if you can look past the aforementioned hitches as it provides players with solid gameplay systems that result in an enjoyable romp to find and kill… well, you already know by now.
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin is a curious game that will split gamers between what they feel is more important. For players diving into the game wanting a “Final Fantasy” experience that engrosses them in the story elements, the game will probably disappoint. As mentioned earlier, the story isn’t a strong point in the game, and while there are a number of familiar settings and themes across the game that make it distinctly a Final Fantasy game, there are also a lot of questionable head-scratching moments.
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin embodies the definition of “it’s so bad, it’s good,” with the story and dialog reaching levels of absurdity that somehow just makes you smile and laugh. Whether you take that as a good or bad thing is totally up to you, but I certainly liked the fact that it doesn’t take itself seriously and just goes along with the flow.
The game is mission-based, with each mission giving out rewards per completion that can be made more difficult for a better payout. Levels are expansive and cover a wide range of areas that hearken back to classic Final Fantasy settings, and while the level design leaves something to be desired, it is a very decent effort that will offer fans of the franchise some good callbacks.
Where Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin shines, on the other hand, is in its excellent combat system, employing trademark Team Ninja elements that really bring the whole game together. Battles are fast-paced highlighted by precise controls, with a hint of difficulty that feels tough but fair. Players are treated to combat that takes inspiration from Souls games but with a lot more flair and style.
The job system in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin is what elevates the combat even further, allowing players to mix and match between a hefty selection of 28 jobs, each with its own unique playstyle. Each job in the game has a full skill tree that not only adds usable abilities but also unlocks further other advanced jobs (To unlock the Sage, you’ll need both Black and White Mage, etc.), so there is some sort of grinding involved to get everything up to spec.
During battle, players can switch between 2 job classes at any time, adding a layer of strategy that will keep players thinking about how each job and skill works with each other. The level of customization is quite deep in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin, and finding the right combinations will reward players with some fluid beatdowns that are a sight to behold.
Further emphasizing the enjoyable combat system in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin are your AI companions, who are surprisingly very competent in battle. They can hold their own even in tough instances, and players can bump up the AI even further with a tap of a button, allowing them to go crazy with skills when the situation calls for it.
Going back to the discussion on jobs, some of these take combat in a totally different direction, breaking the pace a little bit. Casters take quite a while to put out spells, holding your character in place for the duration of the casting. Holding down the cast button for a period of time will strengthen the effects of the spell (Fire – Fira – Firaga) but you’ll need to be smart about your timings unless you want to get interrupted every time.
This is not to say that casters are not welcome in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin. As a personal preference, I always keep a White Mage handy for some fantastic spells that buff the party for maximum efficiency, but it does break the fluidity and momentum a bit, unlike impact-based jobs.
Final Fantasy games tend to score big points in the graphical department but Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin is an exception, with the visuals looking like it could need a bit of polish. While the cutscenes look decent, the actual in-game visuals deserve a bit more love that even the next-gen versions do not improve on, which is disappointing since some of the locales and dungeons you visit feel like they could look amazing with some improvements here and there…
Which is funny, when you think back to one of the complaints back when Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin was first announced about the characters dressed up in unusually plain outfits. There’s a good reason for it because Jack and the crew will be getting fantastic-looking gear early on in the game, all of which are very well designed that whichever way you mix and match pieces of equipment, it’ll still end up looking very good.
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin performs buttery smooth on frame rate mode, something that is definitely welcome for this type of game. There are hardly any noticeable frame drops even during busy instances, and is certainly the way to go in terms of performance modes since the visuals don’t really look overly breathtaking to begin with.
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin also has a problem with loot, or no problem rather, giving players a ton of loot. In fact, players are literally showered with loot that easily fills up your inventory with equipment that has slight variations in stats between them, making inventory management a chore since a lot of these items become useless after a few levels.
Loot is not the only thing that is abundant in Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin. The game has a lot of systems working together to make the combat experience a brilliant one but can easily overwhelm some players with so much going on at the same time. Between the jobs and the soul shield feature (another type of parry that opens up new attack options) and even the various customization options that allow players to end combos with a different ability each time, there’s an immediate learning curve to the game that may possibly be too much and too fast for some.
What we liked:
- Fast-paced and engaging combat system
- Deep job class system
- Equipment designs are fantastic
What we didn’t like:
- Ridiculous story and premise
- Combination of systems might overwhelm some players
- Too much loot, most of which becomes useless
Verdict: Buy it!
Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin is a surprisingly fun game that has very competent systems and features that work together to bring a good technical action RPG. Anchored by a deep job system and excellent combat with precise controls, hunting down Chaos can be quite fun if you let it.
Despite its ridiculous premise and story, the game can easily attract both fans and newcomers to the Final Fantasy franchise and action RPG titles in general. There is a possibility that some players may feel overwhelmed with its many systems, but seeing it through is rewarding enough.
Players looking for a story-driven game may not find what they’re looking for here, but for fans of action RPG games, Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin offers players an enjoyable journey that is loaded with value from start to finish.
*Stranger of Paradise: FF Origin was reviewed on a PlayStation 5 with a review code provided by the publishers.