The Final Fantasy spin-off from Team Ninja — who once worked on the Ninja Gaiden series — is finally in player's hands. That means that the critics have also got stuck in, and a fair few Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin reviews are now out in the wild.
So, without further ado, here's what the critics are saying about the game so far:
It began as a collection of the loosest of story ideas that seemed to go nowhere, but slowly but surely Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin pulled it all together and managed to stick the landing – though you’ll want to be sure to scour it for collectibles if you want the full effect of its revelations. A solid and engaging action combat system can be tuned to be as challenging as it is rewarding. Coupled with versatile character customization that lets you mix and match from dozens of interchangeable jobs, your character fights how you see fit and gives the ability to experiment and find a winning combination in single-player or three-player co-op.
Stranger of Paradise manages to capture more than just the look and sound of bygone games; it also encapsulates the feeling. Running around in the Ancient’s Tower based on Final Fantasy 11’s Delkfutt’s Tower rekindled memories I had long forgotten. The shuffling sound of Gigas on the floor above you, making you well aware you’re going to need to topple a giant in the near-future, enemy pots honing in to attack you, those damned endless corridors that all look the same, while you use glowing circular portals to get around.
Still, while it might be confusing and memey, disjointed and weird, Stranger of Paradise is also a lot of fun. It's full of cool combat with a wide variety of options, and a job system that lets you customize your playstyle or just try out what feels like 30 different ones. Its challenge makes every fight a battle of skill, while also giving you the tools to feel like a ludicrously powerful Final Fantasy badass. And despite being bizarrely delivered and wildly strange, there is a delight in uncovering what the hell is actually going on in the game's story and the weird ideas it brings to bear on the Final Fantasy series. Stranger of Paradise is mostly a more focused version of Final Fantasy that shows some different directions for the series from its traditional games, even if those directions take it down paths that are sometimes a bit...stranger.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is split between a series of missions, containing each quest within its own linear gauntlet. From the layout of maps to combat gameplay, it feels like a lighter, simplified version of Team Ninja’s Nioh template, though it’s no less punishing. Enemies can wipe you out in a couple of hits and boss battles are designed to be mastered over the course of multiple attempts. There is a casual difficulty option for those who just want to immerse themselves without being brutalised – something sorely missing from games in the soulslike subgenre.
In boss battles, you can forget about all the gaffer tape and spit holding the rest of Stranger of Paradise together. Facing off against Tiamat, or a tank that looks like the one from the start of Final Fantasy 7, or some other servant of the myopic Chaos… that’s where the game comes into its own. If FromSoft games make you feel like you’re dancing with your enemies, Team Ninja makes you feel like you’re in a mosh pit. It’s a melee of tentacles, limbs, weapons, magic.
Push Square (6/10)
Hear us out: there’s something earnest about Stranger of Paradise. At the start of the review we compared the game to a car crash, and we stand by that and all of the criticisms we threw at it. But you have to remember that some people like watching demolition derbies. Some men just want to watch the world burn. And so while we might have been laughing at Stranger of Paradise as often as with it, we genuinely had fun in our 35 hours playing. It’s utterly ridiculous, and a total mess, but for what it’s worth, it's a fun mess.
Still, chasing around dungeons knocking the stuffing out of cheeky cactuars and the rest of the Final Fantasy bestiary remains reasonably absorbing, especially in co-op mode. There's no doubt that one of the draws here is that Final Fantasy setting, and it does bring something to the party, as you see how characters and locations from the original game have been reimagined and reworked.
I want to love Stranger Of Paradise, I honestly do. No, I can’t believe that Jack is a loveable, angry himbo either, but the game did manage to convince me of such. But no amount of weird, unexplainable charm makes up for a game that feels like it needed more time. I think the game is potentially worth playing just to see all of the almost surreal dialogue that’s on offer, but don’t expect anything even half as revolutionary as something like Demon’s Souls. Stranger Of Paradise is a PS2 game that never was, but considering how many generations ago that was now, that just isn’t enough.
Well, we think it's safe to say that this one is a bit of a mixed bag. It averages out at around a 7/10 though, currently sitting at 72 on Metacritic. Honestly, that's not too bad, and considering this could be the last Final Fantasy game we get for a while on Xbox — Final Fantasy 16 is a timed exclusive on PlayStation — it might just be worth a go.
Will you be picking up Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin on Xbox? Let us know below.