Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin in the preview - total write-off?

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin in the preview - total write-off?

Stranger of Paradise

An embarrassing trailer with completely misplaced characters and a demo that needed a patch to even start - the first thing the gaming public saw of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins was a double belly landing. Why do the characters look like a half-good Devil May Cry cosplay troop? What are these dull dialogues supposed to do? And is the game in the end just a Nioh copy with a familiar name?

Table of Contents

1 Far from the roots 2 Class cramp and feature abundance 3 Is that a glimmer of hope? I can't see anything! 4 Strangle our opinions Looking for answers, we fought our way through the demo several times and realized: The looming disaster may not have become Stranger of Paradise, but the game is still quite a construction site.

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Far from the roots

Cool feature: We can intercept some enemy attacks by parrying and then use them briefly ourselves! Source: PC Games But let's start from the beginning. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is the latest venture from the Ninja Gaiden and Nioh developers at Team Ninja, who have teamed up with Square Enix to finally bring the FF universe its own Souls-like. At the same time, the subtitle suggests that it is a reinterpretation of the first Final Fantasy. The legendary JRPG that saved developer Square from bankruptcy in 1986. However, Stranger of Paradise is far from its down-to-earth fantasy setting: Our warriors of light Jack, Jed and Ash look as out of place in the gloomy dungeon as their Final Fantasy 15 colleagues did. Protagonist Jack is reminiscent of shooter heroes from 2010 and starts the campaign against goblins, bombers and skeletons in jeans and T-shirts. Is character designer Tetsuya Nomura just tired of it now? Does the strangely everyday style of clothing even suggest an absurd parallel world story? Be that as it may, Stranger of Paradise is essentially Souls-like and therefore primarily has to convince with its gameplay!

Finisher smash opponents into chunks of crystal and charge our MP bar. Source: PC Games We start our hunt for chaos with a short tutorial and are reminded of the two previous Souls-likes from Team Ninja. The will-breaking system with which we soften opponents for devastating finishers is the replacement for the Ki mechanics from Nioh and works on both sides. However, the enemies in Stranger of Paradise are a bit tougher and we are initially equipped with fewer attacks. In addition to a simple three-hit combo with our giant sword, which we can use as often as we want due to the lack of stamina, we can still block, parry and dodge in the classic way. For all further actions, an MP bar is used, which is charged with hits, successful parades and finishers. If a bar is full, we as swordsmen can unleash special combos, such as a whirlwind or an onslaught attack.

Trio Banale: We hardly hear anything from the three "warriors of light" here in the demo. Probably a blessing. Source: Square Enix And we also need these moves, because even small standard goblins can take a lot, which brings us to the first problem of the combat system: It feels limp and powerless. Our giant two-handed sword swings strangely fast, but has an unsatisfactory effect on enemies, their attacks and life bars. With the MP attacks we send the opponents to the boards faster, but these actions are also relatively weak, considering how much effort it takes to fill up the mana bar. If you want to make the fights quicker, you can turn the selectable level of difficulty down to four levels. At the "hard" level, standard opponents take more hits than some Dark Souls bosses.

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Class cramp and feature abundance

The pikeman can throw his lance as a special ability. In close combat, his animations look like copied from Nioh. Source: PC Games However, the swordsman is only one of three jobs we were able to try out in the demo. With the choice of our weapon, Jack's class, his abilities and partly the portable equipment change. If the lance-carrying pikeman is still quite used to steering, we have to make a lot of adjustments with the black mage: Instead of combos, we fire spells that we can select in a ring menu in the heat of the moment and charge for more area damage. For the magic we have to stop, we then select the desired element using the left analog stick. In the demo dungeon we are regularly surprised by large waves of enemies, some of which then spawn from tough generators. And in contrast to the classic enemies such as goblins, bombers and tonberries, we flinch at the smallest hit and are often interrupted during actions.

Too much information! In addition to our stats, we have to keep an eye on a long list of equipment. Unfortunately, up to now there have always been dozens of the same item, with marginal improvements. Source: PC Games The second big problem with the combat system is how unruly and unruly it controls. Our evasive jump is stiff and choppy, as are our attacks, and especially the magic menu is not very intuitive for the speed of the fights. Speaking of unintuitive: The demo hits us with new mechanics every minute and hardly leaves us time to find our way into the many subsystems that are also named cumbersome, typical for Final Fantasy. Here, however, we are in good spirits that the finished game introduces us to the subject a little more cautiously. Team Ninja obviously wanted us to try out as many aspects of the combat system as possible in the demo.

Is that a glimmer of hope? I can't see anything!

And actually there are some successful ideas in the tangle of overloaded menus, constant loot drops with marginal improvements and tricky fights: That we can refresh our MP bar with parade series in order to then break the opponent's stamina, reminiscent of the grandiose duels of a Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The cumbersome conjuring process allows us special interactions in some places, for example when we set grass on fire to master a pack of wolves. The boss fight against Final Fantasy villain Garland is a crisp exchange of blows without a lot of frills, which focuses on the strengths of the genre with clean hitboxes and comprehensible attack patterns. And those who still have the misplaced online liners from the trailer in their ears will be happy that the characters in the demo mostly keep their mouths shut.

Spawning spam: Opponents are rarely cleverly placed or complement each other like it does is actually common practice in the genre. Often we are simply littered with enemy generators. Source: PC Games Our eyes are not spoiled for that. The fact that the trial version is PS5-exclusive seems like a bad joke. Stranger of Paradise could just as well run on a server somewhere in Japan, because the optics are insanely fuzzy, flickering and jerky like a live stream with a poor internet connection. Most of the time we see little of it anyway, since the ambient lighting regularly drowns the picture in black.

Give us your opinion

The fight against the dark knight Garland was quite successful. Why are we constantly accompanied by two NPCs who have little effect in combat? We don't know after the demo either. Source: PC Games Team Ninja has proven in the past that it takes player feedback from alpha and beta tests very seriously, so you can be confident that there will be a lot more to come before the game is released next year. The fact that the developer actually masters and understands the genre is shown by the very successful Nioh series, which, along with From Software's titles, is one of the best representatives of this type of action role-playing games. Stranger of Paradise still lacks a lot of fine-tuning and a common thread that brings the overloaded combat system and the strange setting on course. If you want to try out the one-hour demo yourself and send the developers urgently needed feedback, you can do so until June 26th. The extensive questionnaire can be filled out directly from the game.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will be released in 2022 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X / S.

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