Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is one of the latest entries on the growing list of games being compared to FromSoftware’s Dark Souls series. Is it the game’s difficulty? Or, perhaps it’s the presence of a dodge roll? Regardless, let’s talk about why Stranger of Paradise might actually be worth your time in spite of its mixed reception. Additionally, we’ll also go over why it’s a mistake to consider this game as the “Dark Souls of Final Fantasy.”
Get a Job! There Are 27
The Final Fantasy series is known for featuring a wide range of character classes. From Mages to Monks—a wide range of power fantasies can be found throughout the series. Stranger of Paradise is no different. As the main character, the player can assign two active Jobs. From there, the player can toggle between the two during combat. Each Job encourages a different play style while also flaunting specific moves and a list of compatible weapons. However, the best part of Stranger of Paradise’s Jobs is how fun it is to unlock new ones. Advanced Jobs require mastery of two other Jobs that players may otherwise gloss over. Although it sounds like a chore, being nudged into trying each Job grants a fair amount of variety to the game. Each Job also features customizable combos to give players a chance to fully embrace the strengths of that specific play style. Since exploration and narrative take a backseat in Stranger of Paradise, this approach to character progression is the game’s saving grace.
Crunchier Than a Bag of Exploding Crystals
Although the core combat systems in Stranger of Paradise can feel a bit convoluted at first; understanding how to navigate this game’s combat is worth the effort. There’s a great deal of satisfaction awaiting the players who figure out how to control every skirmish with the game’s defensive tools. Parrying affords a chance at a counter-attack, and the “Soul Shield” gives players a chance to instantly steal enemy spells to turn it around on them. Stranger of Paradise feels immensely rewarding, but the difficulty scales way up when it comes to boss fights. So much of the education that players gain during their conquest through regular enemies goes to waste when faced with that area’s boss. Typically, bosses require a fair amount of trial and error before they can be dealt with once and for all. That being said, players can adjust the difficulty whenever they choose. This feature is the first item on our list of why Stranger of Paradise shouldn’t be considered a Soulslike.
Why Stranger of Paradise Is Not a Soulslike
Choose Your Difficulty:
One of the biggest ways Stranger of Paradise differentiates from most actual Soulslikes is its changeable difficulty setting. While this isn’t to imply that games such as Elden Ring don’t have gameplay-oriented difficulty modifiers; the fact remains that Soulslikes are notorious for not exposing a difficulty setting. Whether or not this is a good thing for players is an entirely different discussion.
One of the fastest ways to identify a Soulslike is to observe its approach to character and game progression. More often than not, Soulslikes feature fairly unforgiving checkpoints that feel more like a break in a marathon than anything else. Of course, unlockable shortcuts make this easier to deal with. But, Dark Souls players will not typically find a checkpoint right before a boss. Stranger of Paradise features frequent checkpoints that often appear before the game’s next big challenge. This flies right in the face of what’s expected of a Soulslike’s checkpoint system! Additionally, Soulslikes are known for putting players at risk of permanently losing experience points upon losing a fight. That being said, Stranger of Paradise subjects the player to almost no punishment for falling in battle. In all honesty, this is for the best. Some of the fights in Stranger of Paradise require the player to lose over and over again. If character progression was on the chopping block, this game would be nigh unplayable.
Typically, Soulslikes feature a rigid leveling system. Players are tasked with spending their hard-earned experience points carefully so that they might properly grow into the god-slaying warrior shown on the game’s box art. However, Stranger of Paradise encourages players to flippantly spend their Job points on their equipped Job’s next available node. In fact, each Job grows independently of one another—allowing players to level up with almost no forethought.
Have you played Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin? Do you think this game should be classified as a Soulslike, or is it simply another wacky game by Tetsuya Nomura? Let us know in the Boss Rush Discord and Facebook Group!
When he’s not defending The Traveler in Destiny 2 or vanquishing beasts in Dark Souls; Dan can be found sharing his opinions on video games across multiple mediums. Find his work on his YouTube channel, the Dinosaur Machines Game Club Podcast, or right here on The Boss Rush Network!