The joke started this past weekend, less than seven days before ‘Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’ hits stores. began to circulate a video on social networks that showed the presentation of three of the heroes who focus the action in the first hours of the game. We are accustomed to the bewilderment that the portrayal made in Asian countries in general and Japan in particular of supposedly everyday situations sows in the Western viewer. But this was excessive even for the most hardened otaku.
This is literally how they meet pic.twitter.com/aXjVF3sxIt
— PJ (@FenixPJ) March 11, 2022
Any player used to these “misalignments” and cultural leaps between Japan and Western culture knows that these issues end up being anecdotes. The role-playing games with a powerful narrative load that come from that country overflow with eccentric characters and abnormal relationships in the eyes of Europeans and Americans, but that does not mean that ‘Final Fantasy VII’, for not leaving the same saga, is remembered as one of the most emotional stories in the history of video games. That franchises like ‘Resident Evil’ or ‘Metal Gear’ have an extra bizarreness only adds to the final count.
But what was not so expected is that ‘Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’ was going to have such an uneven reaction among the press that they were able to test it before its release on March 18. The Twitter user Nibellion selected some of these notes in international media, ranging from 8.5, 8.2 or 8 in some media to 2.5/5 or 1/5 in others. Even though there have been few suspense because technically the game is up to the taskas we will see, and the average note is around the remarkable, there is a general feeling of bewilderment in the press before this proposal from Team Ninja and Square Enix.
Stranger Of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin early review scores
Press Start 8.5
RPG Site 8
Hardcore Gamer 3.5/5
MC 73 (32 critics)https://t.co/bINDF296Gj
OC 76 (16 critics)https://t.co/WCAOZyRs0k pic.twitter.com/bMnwNDnE9J
— Nibel (@Nibellion) March 14, 2022
Our colleagues from 3DJuegos stated that “it has reminded me a lot of ‘Deadly Premonition’ in these matters, only that I know that Swery is like a goat and does this on purpose. From Team Ninja and Square-Enix I am not so clear.” It is clear that perhaps that feeling of “it is so eccentric that sometimes it is difficult to judge” may have played against it, and will make it a controversial release, and of course, on the other hand, not exclusively attractive to fans of ‘End Fantay’.
We have also had the opportunity to try ‘Stranger of Paradise’, and the feeling of disorientation in the face of a relatively new proposal is understandable. ‘Stranger of Paradise’ attempts to combine traditional elements of ‘Final Fantasy’ (from its more action-oriented installments, at least) with the fashionable ‘Souls’ style. The result sometimes works, sometimes it doesn’t even stick with glue. But perhaps that is precisely what gives him a very particular charisma.
A unique ‘Final Fantasy’
The idea that ‘Final Fantasy’ and the ‘Souls’ have a bastard child is already crazy enough, but everything is reinforced in the plot, closely linked to the first game in the franchise. In Cordelia’s kingdom there is a demonic figure called Chaos who wants to sow the dittoand our trio of Warriors of Light (Jack, Jed and Ash, dressed as in a neo-western themed episode of RuPaul’s show) launch into adventure.
This is basically everything regarding the starting point, which launches us into the action without many milongas. The game hardly has cinematics and is defined exclusively by the combat mechanics, and even so, the outfits, the laconic and arbitrary behavior of the heroes make the game an eccentricity from its plot line. But once again, it’s not something we’re not exactly used to in a Japanese game.
As for the game system, it also drinks originally from the essence of the ‘Final Fantasy’ progress system and its works. Namely, the abilities of the characters according to the weapon they carry, and that we can configure in trees (divided in turn into professions) according to our style of play. These are the ones that will reflect our progress in the adventure.
The action is what gives the game its authentic character, and more specifically, the boss battles, which are reminiscent of what was seen in ‘Nioh’ and how little they tend to spare the player’s life. The speed of reflexes and the precision when dodging, blocking and counterattacking will be vital for survival, and not only with the bosses: we will have a rupture bar that, when eliminated, will leave us stunned (like the enemies) for a few seconds, and more than once we will suffer to keep it intact.
What any player will notice from the first moment, and it is the big but that many analysts have found in the game, is the technical implementation of those combats. Camera moves erratically, enemy damage zones are chaotic and not well definedthe game is deliberately difficult and unfair, but not always in the defiant way of the ‘Souls’, but in a more brutal way and that does not always encourage you to keep trying.
On the positive side is the development by levels of the game in the style of ‘Nioh’, which allows us to embark on secondary missions to redo objectives already met, but in a lateral way. Everything is organized, again problems, in a map that is not particularly easy to navigate, and it is never clear if it is incompetence or “we have heard that difficult games are fashionable now, mix everything up”.
Against each superb idea, such as “auto-equipment” that saves time for less devoted RPG players -another idea exploited in the ‘Nioh’-, there is a labyrinth that is not very fun, and for each final boss that we are stuck because of the camera there is a good combat-oriented idea, like the aforementioned shield that must be used as a block at the exact moment or it will leave us stunnedand that allows you to return your own attack to the enemy, in an addictive minigame that gives a very peculiar rhythm to the combats
The utterly absurd, exhausting amount of work at our disposal to thoroughly configure the style of combat will put long-time action gamers on their toes. But between the impossible plot and the technical flaws, the question remains… what exactly were Team Ninja thinking to go so hard with such a damn weird game?
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism