Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin comes out tomorrow, March 15, and today is flooded with reviews from various outlets weighing in on what to make of the game. Considering the game’s focus on chaos, it’s perfect, then, that there isn’t much consensus, instead Stranger of Paradise is seeing a wide range of scores and comments.
Now that critics have played Stranger of Paradise, it’s clear that the weird vibes and cringe-inducing moments from the trailers and demos are a big part of the game’s charm. Or, if you hate that kind of stuff, a big reason why some reviewers aren’t so into this new Final Fantasy adventure. One of the most common complaints, even in positive reviews, is that the story goes off the rails and doesn’t have a cohesive narrative overall. Despite the numerous complaints, for some, it seems the weird story is a feature, not a bug. Meanwhile, almost every review, even the most negative among them, makes mention of how great the combat feels, even when you are stuck in some of the game’s more tedious levels and dungeons.
During last year’s E3, Stranger of Paradise’s official reveal trailer almost immediately became a meme online. It featured the main protagonist saying the word “chaos” quite a lot. Like a lot, a lot. We also learned at the time that the game would be an action RPG developed by Team Ninja, somewhat similar to Nioh, set in the world of the original Final Fantasy, which was first released for the NES in 1987. Since its meme-y reveal, the game has continued to get odd trailers and demos, leading to more and more memes.
If you are looking for Kotaku’s review, we don’t have one up yet as we didn’t get early access to the game. However, we will have more to say about Stranger of Paradise in the near future, so stay tuned.
As for other outlets and their thoughts on the game, well, to borrow a somewhat tired video game review cliche: It’s a bit of a mixed bag—a chaotic and action-packed bag, sure, but still, pretty mixed. Anyway, let’s take a look at what some critics are saying:
I can see reviews and takes flying all over the place for Stranger of Paradise, easily. It’s not for everyone, despite how much the Final Fantasy name might bring people in. It’s a Team Ninja action game first and an oddball Isekai story second. It’s also one of the weirdest games I’ve reviewed in a while because it speaks to me in a lot of ways, but it wears its flaws on its sleeve. Go in cautiously if you want a new action game to sink your teeth into.
Its overly complex story and one-dimensional NPCs don’t pay off until the final hours, but the freedom available in its challenging combat and extensive character customization is consistently rewarding from the start until–and after–the credits roll. It’s a love letter to its own source material, filled with references and homages to the series’ history that seem designed to give fans of any Final Fantasy something to enjoy.
This violent retelling of the original Final Fantasy game from 1987 largely sidesteps the series’ adventurous spirit and heartfelt mysticism to focus on muscle, attitude, and everything extreme. Square Enix labels this remake as a “hardcore action/RPG,” an apt description for a game that rarely relents in its aggression. When swords are drawn and giant beasts enter frenzied states, this edgy experiment shines, as the battlefield lights up with a flurry of combos and magics against awesome monsters that pose a real threat. When the swords are holstered and the characters need to converse or explore, Stranger of Paradise hits lows rarely seen in Final Fantasy’s storied 35-year history.
Stranger of Paradise doesn’t look good. Its story is a bunch of nonsense. Maybe you’ll find that amusing, maybe you’ll find it annoying. But all of that doesn’t matter as much as you might imagine because you spend the bulk of the experience fighting monsters. Stranger of Paradise makes fighting monsters fun.
It’s far from the best Final Fantasy game. It certainly isn’t the best action game. But it’s still a fast-paced and enjoyable playthrough.
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 [PlayStation 2] game that never was, but considering how many generations ago that was now, that just isn’t enough.
Stranger of Paradise cuts through all the B.S. masking the hyper-masculinity that’s come to dominate who and what we define as a hero. In the beginning of the game, the Queen of the land tells Jack to smile or he’ll scare her daughter. He doesn’t smile. But moments like this, and the brutal combat, show how Jack is a caricature of the strong, silent type. He knows no chivalry and doesn’t realize he’s about to become the very monster he seeks to destroy.
I didn’t expect to enjoy smashing the heads of monsters like this. I also didn’t expect to enjoy a story about a hyper-masculine man like Jack. But what I’ve come to learn in my time with Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is that Jack isn’t a knight in shining armor. He’s better.