Final Fantasy has been a huge staple for the gaming industry, and has been known for groundbreaking stories, critically acclaimed music, and overall one of the largest communities in the gaming world. Now the franchise fans can experience the original game in a full new reboot thanks to not only Square Enix, but also Team Ninja. However, due to the high expectations fans have for these developers, the game felt lacking in a few areas that kept me from fully enjoying the combat in the game. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a very well rounded ARPG with a few flaws that could have been improved on. I will say that this game is fully worth the experience if you are a die-hard Final Fantasy fan, but if you’re looking for the brutal and fun gameplay that comes with Team Ninja territory this title will feel sub par at best.
The Story of Chaos
The story of this game has changed quite a bit from the original, and it’s interesting to say the least. We still have the original antagonist with Garland, however Princess Sarah has not been kidnapped and the warriors have actual names and unique faces. The quest remains the same in restoring the elements, but now the Lufenians play a more pronounced and major role in the game, and seem to be pulling the strings.
Essentially Chaos is destroying the world, and you play as the Warriors of Light starting with Jack, Ash, Jed, and Neon. These four warriors are drawn together by their dark crystals, and they set off on quests to kill Chaos by the King. The King and many others seem to question the actual existence of Chaos, leaving the warriors to question their belief at times. While many believe the four heroes to be the real Warriors of Light, the dark crystals seem to contradict the legend. As Jack and the Strangers travel throughout the land of Cornelia, they seem to find forgotten memories and slowly uncover the truth behind Chaos and what their purpose is meant to be.
While the new take on the plot had a pretty dark twist filled with mystery and promise, the cutscenes felt a bit lacking in terms of engagement. This honestly felt mostly due to the poor voice acting and the lack of information given. While watching the cutscenes I had a general idea of what was happening due to playing the original game, however there have been so many changes made that I honestly felt at a lost and losing interest at times. However, this completely changes once you reach end game, and seemingly the whole story ties together and is actually really well done. It was almost annoying how good the plot actually is, but the early delivery and voice acting is just awful. Side quests and mementos will also be a must to tie in to the plot if you truly want to understand the game. Usually Final Fantasy games are known for their strong story telling, but this game deviates far from the standard.
Dungeons Gradually Become Insanely Fun Labyrinths
As I entered Pravoka again, I was more than excited to see how they changed it up from it’s 2D roots. I knew since the game is not open world, it might be just the dungeon portion of the game. As I entered, the nerd in me was very happy to relive a portion of the first game, but I was sad to see how short and linear it felt. I did not take it too heart since it was on the first dungeon of the game, and I was right to do so because, as I entered each dungeon, they gradually became more intricate and fun. Between the traps laid out in the Cavern of Earth to the puzzles in Mount Gulg, each dungeon has so much fun to offer and keeps jumping gradually in difficulty. There are also Nasty Tonberries that bring back all the moves you painfully remember (insert Everyone’s Grudge here) and possible 1000 Needles being thrown at you from the random Cactuar in the hidden corner.
Another enemy that caused me even more disappointment were the Malboros, mostly because, depending on your class, even the worst moves like Bad Breath were a joke. You can really just keep behind them and wail on them, and they do not seem to get much stronger as you progress through the game. Even the boss version seemed weaker than the average version, and seems to not even utilize some of the staple moves.
The Tutorials Are A MUST, but In Ways You Would NOT Expect
I cannot stress enough that the first thing players should do is every tutorial for the weapon. I made the mistake of playing through the majority of the game without doing so, and feeling the combat was dumbed down for a Team Ninja game. The tutorial actually walks you through on how to utilize combos for various scenarios, and greatly improved the combat. There is one for each weapon which also helps you get the feel of each playstyle. If I had done this off the bat, I would have thoroughly enjoyed the combat more because I was playing it as a souls style game. The bosses are no where near hard enough to utilize the approach, making the playstyle feel extremely boring.
The OG Bosses Are Back, and Extremely Fun
It was a trip fighting some of these bosses again in an ARPG as opposed to the original 2D turn based experience. The best part is they actually do hold a bit of a challenge that feels gradually rewarding depending on the fight. Tiamat is a great example of needing a certain strategy that requires staggering as opposed to tearing down his HP, or even fighting Garland who will nuke you if you don’t know how to parry. Many of these bosses can stagger you in seconds if you are not careful, and they will mix up moves that can be unlockable verses not being able to dodge. Every boss follows the story of the original FF, and is absolutely gorgeous in design.
One gracious thing laid out carefully before each boss fight and in certain areas of the game are cubes where you can save and adjust or level your classes. Another big bonus is that if you die you lose nothing, not even experience which makes it a lot easier than a traditional souls game. That means if you get grappled by Lich and happen to die due to not healing in time, it’s ok any experience gained for your classes is kept. However, enemies will respawn upon death much like souls games and there is a bit of what could be called a resurrection sickness. MP can temporarily be halved if you die one too many times making it impossible to use certain commands. On the flip side though mana is extremely easy to recover since it is essentially gained back by hitting enemies.
Boss fights can sadly be hard countered with busted classes. As I mentioned before as an example with parrying Garland, certain abilities make the game feel like a cakewalk. Swordfighter uses the closest thing to what a parry is in dark souls known as Interception, which acts as a parry with a return hit. This ability eats up only one bar, making it essentially easy to spam with a maxed out Swordfighter. Interception blows through many bosses such as Garland and Captain Bikke. Another ability that could use a nerf is healing over time or per hit such as on Paladin. Since you can utilize multiple classes and status effects carry over per class, throwing Regen 3 on a Paladin will likely make them nearly invincible. This is a go to set up if you want to cheese most fights in the game. Especially since Regen is a low cost ability as opposed to cure. Another busted thing with classes verses bosses is many abilities will stay the same cost despite level cast.
There Are WAY Too Many Classes that Feel Like A Copy Paste
I honestly felt that the variety of classes felt a bit lazy, and that the developers should have either put more work into making the different classes unique or trimming down and increasing quality. Many moves were a copy and past and either kept the same name or changed the name and maybe one small detail. For example, nearly every mage has the Stormbreak ability as their R2, and even Paladin and Dark Knight share a similar R2 with a different name and status effect. Lightbringer will slowly heal you while the opposing class will lose health upon each hit. A saving grace is the mix up of some abilities for spell casters and the variety for certain unique classes like Ninja using Ninjutsu. Sadly, classes like Voidbreaker on the other hand have little to know abilities and feel plain pointless. Many of these classes are meant to be a higher version that is more specialized, but they all mostly share the copy and paste effect that makes your choices feel pointless. If the developers had put more effort into developing these classes to be something more or even trimming them down it would feel less lazy and way more organized.
Managing Gear Can Be a Headache, and Drop Rates Are Insane
Managing the gear system can feel like a huge chore, but luckily they added a feature where you can at the very least hold down a button to highlight everything as you scroll. The game desperately needs a select all option to move to storage or break down at the blacksmith. This is a huge issue due to the fact that drop rates for gear are extremely high and random. Some enemies will randomly drop anywhere from 1 to 3 items on average. Given the fact that you get a storage space of 500 items between your armor and weapons, the inventory space constantly fills up in a blink of an eye. The most annoying part is your only option mid dungeon is to send the lot of it to storage at the cube. Otherwise you have to discard or ignore newly fallen loot that could potentially be better. This drop rate is also a problem since it renders upgrading weapons pointless until end game.
Chaos Fantasy is Actually Good, but Not Great
The game is not bad by any means, I am enjoying my time as a Final Fantasy fan. I honestly feel this game needed some more time in development, because it feels like a case of rushed and unpolished. Many things in the game are great, but there are also a lot of things that feel lazy and greatly need improvement. Final Fantasy fans will have a field day filled with nostalgia and lore in this game, but I do think that fans looking for the brutal and classic Team Ninja experience may be left with disappointment.
Vibe Score: 6.5/10