The Final Fantasy series has been Square Enix’ (formerly Square) flagship RPG franchise since the game first hit store shelves on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1987. Many of these chapters have served as the standard for RPG gaming in their respective generations. Even their spin-off games, like Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicleseven World of Final Fantasy, have met the high expectations placed on them. Now, in 2022, we have the latest side game in the series, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origina (currently) one-off game that brings us back to the world of Final Fantasy II on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the series. What’s unique about this is that Square Enix was not at the helm of development, but rather Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja studio, the team behind franchises including Nioh† Dead or alive and perhaps most strikingly, Ninja Gaiden† While it’s nice to see a shift from Omega Force brought to make a hack’n’slash spin-off game, though Final Fantasy Warriors wouldn’t be a bad thing, how’s this Ninja Gaiden x Final Fantasy style game going? Read on to find out.
After the Final Fantasy series did not continue to compete for minimum system resources and did not have to compromise its vision of hardware limitations, it has consistently set itself high standards for world building and character development. Unfortunately, I ran into my own roadblock here to play the game. There is some meaty content in the story, especially in the second half of the game. To get to those gems, however, you have to trudge through a storyline that starts out dry, complicated, poorly paced, has unmemorable characters, and has almost no exciting character development. As someone who loves video games for their narrative components, it created a barrier that often forced me to put the game down to move on to another game I had more invested in. If you can work your way through the initially unremarkable story, fans of Final Fantasy II will probably see that the adventure is worth the wait. Still, those looking for a substantial story will get more out of the mainline Final Fantasy RPGs.
A sensible development approach from Team Ninja and Square Enix was for them to organize three public testing periods immediately from the moment the game was announced. The changes between versions were notable, and it’s clear that the team used community feedback in influencing the final build, at least in terms of gameplay. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin has a good balance between the hack’n’slash gameplay elements that Team NINJA does best, and critical elements that are synonymous with the early Final Fantasy games. Final Fantasy-style dungeon design, a robust task system with 28 classes to use – each handled differently, and some satisfying yet challenging combat that will keep you on your toes are some of the elements that harmonize with the action-RPG combat style of the game . The components weren’t just put in to add, but appropriately modified and integrated to feel like they really belong in the combat system style. The combat flows well and the experience is only hampered by an overwhelming UI that tries to show too much at once, and that despite the small playable cast they were unable to tweak the game so you can’t play more than three characters at once. the field.
Players are treated to a mixed bag when it comes to the audiovisual quality of Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin† What really lets the game down is the visual quality. There are elements that I love, from great pre-rendered cutscenes and the inclusion of different graphics modes available on the PS5 version I reviewed, to the fact that all the equipment had unique designs that showed up visually on characters. Because of the complicated UI, slightly grainy aesthetic, and lighting that gave everything a glossy effect, everything had a bit of a cluttered feel to it. With fantastic music and a competent English voice cast for primary and secondary characters, the audio side of things was a lot better – with great background music and a great choice of Frank Sinatra’s My Way as a licensed track.
Especially for those who have nostalgia and love for Final Fantasy IIthere is a lot to enjoy Strangers of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin if you can tolerate the initially slow pace of the story and some graphical issues, especially when you get to the final chapters of the game. If you don’t, you may end up like me, wanting to make progress, but encountering mental barriers that stand in the way of your progress. But once the foundation is laid, it’s still a fun game to play through with lots of Team Ninja innovations to make this a “Team Ninja game”. BUT with Final Fantasy”. I also believe that if you took the main elements of the story and put it in a concise, long CGI movie, it would be an excellent addition to the Final Fantasy universe.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is available now for purchase on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S, both physically (select platforms) and digitally (all platforms).
A PlayStation 5 review code has been provided for this review.
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