Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is the 'What If' of Final Fantasy I

Nioh action meets Final Fantasy RPG in Square Enix's collaboration with Team Ninja.

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Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin will be released on March 18 2022. The upcoming action RPG is a collaboration between Square Enix and Koei Tecmo Games with Team NINJA from handling development.

You might know Team NINJA from their work on Nioh, infamously known as one of the toughest action RPGs that you can attempt to play. The result is a game that does feel like a hybrid of Final Fantasy and Nioh – in spirit, at least.

With the game just around the corner, we have Jin Fujiwara (Producer) and Daisuke Inoue (Director) from Square Enix, and Fumihiko Yasuda (Producer) from Team Ninja of Koei Tecmo Games, and they were kind enough to give us some insights on the inner workings of their latest title.

What’s it about?

In Stranger of Paradise, you play Jack Garland, who is on a mission along with Jed and Ash to destroy Chaos, not unlike the storyline in Final Fantasy I. But rather than a straight-up remake of the first Final Fantasy game, Stranger of Paradise is set up as an inspired origin story for Final Fantasy I’s antagonist, Garland. With its dark fantasy overtones, this ‘alternate universe’ version adds another unique flavour to Square Enix’s sprawling franchise.

“With Stranger in Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, we wanted to depict the story of Garland and how he came to being. And so, the setting of the story will definitely be that of the original Final Fantasy I – and the world and the different motifs that are handled in the title, was something we wanted to incorporate, said Fujiwara.

Nioh Action or Final Fantasy RPG?

Unlike most Final Fantasy games, don’t expect too many cutscenes here. Given that the game was designed as an action RPG, the developers didn’t want to slow down the tempo of the action too much. Likewise, they decided against adding too many characters for the same reason.

You can have up to five party players in the group, with multiplayer mode an option. Incidentally, multiplayer mode is the only way to play with the NPCs. Stranger of Paradise features a Resonance system that balances out the NPCs (so that they are neither too strong nor weak) by studying the player’s interactions with the NPCs’ AI.

Is it going to be tough?

Given that Team Ninja is involved, will the difficulty level be Nioh level as well? According to Inoue, it shouldn’t be. “We call Normal mode the Action mode. It is intended for those who are good at action games, or prefer to play action games. But I don’t think it’s more difficult than Nioh,” he explained.

Either way, the game offers a Story Mode (Easy), a Hard mode, as well as a mode where you go into battles without your NPCs. Yasuda adds that so long as you manage your resources well, the battles should not be too difficult. However, the boss battles are a different story. In certain cases, you have the take the RPG approach and be strategic about the Jobs you use going into the battle.

Do I have to grind to beat the game?

Being ultimately a Final Fantasy game, Stranger of Paradise incorporates the Job System and Party System into its core mechanics. Inoue is a big fan of the Job System in Final Fantasy 5 and it turned out to be perfect for the action theme of the game.

“We wanted to think about how to link the system of having multiple weapons and then the idea to connect it with the Job System and it just fit really well. It allowed us to have a system where players can think, ‘OK, so which strategy do I want to go with? I want to use this Job, which means I’ll use these different weapons and just have strategies for that. Or, come up with the player’s personal style; something they can call their own,” he added.

Inoue assures us that you don’t need to spend too much time accumulating gears to beat the game. Similarly, you don’t have to feel like you need to master switching jobs to beat the game. So it seems like the game is forgiving enough that you don’t have to grind and optimise every element in order to beat it, though it does offer the flexibility – and satisfaction – of doing so.

Availability

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will be released on 18 March 2022 for Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and PC. It is now available for pre-order.

For physical copies, there’s the Standard Physical Edition and Collector’s Edition. For digital copies, there’s the Digital Standard Edition and the Digital Deluxe Edition.

With the Digital Deluxe Edition, you will also receive a Season pass that gives you extra missions (Trials of the Dragon King, Wanderer of the Rift, and Different Future) along with a Digital Artbook and Digital Mini-Soundtrack.

If you pre-order the digital editions, you will receive Early Access to the game – 72 hours for consoles and 24 hours for PC. On top of that, you will receive the “Braveheart” sword and “Lustrous Shield.” If you order via the PS Store, you will also receive a specialised theme for PS4. Also, if you order the game by April 18 2022, you will receive a “Rebellion” sword.

The Collector’s Edition will come with an Official Art Book and Official Script Book, along with a Vinyl LP and T-shirt. For Asia, there will be an Initial Asian Physical Version Exclusive Bonus – a Collector’s Art Board.

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