Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (PlayStation 5) Review

By Luke Hemming 14.04.2022

Review for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin  on PlayStation 5

The hype was real, the tension palpable. The thought of an action based Final Fantasy title was enough to whet the whistle of long term fans and newcomers alike. Would this be the Souls-style bridge to allow casual players to jump in and enjoy or would this offend so many "true" gamers that it would be left out in the cold. After the initial trials raised more than a few eyebrows, players now find themselves with the full kaboodle. Quest on fair warrior!

On first loading, those initial fears were not quelled in the slightest. Players are thrown straight into the familiar slash with caution action, but in terms of graphics, what an awful world to be thrown into! It's easy to believe that with the look of this not being cleaned up in the slightest since its test runs that many would choose to ignore it entirely. With Square Enix being one of the big hitters, known for their high fidelity and gorgeous products, its more than off putting to see something that could probably run just as well on a PS3 if not earlier. No retro charm to be had here, just foggy, muggy textures and areas. Squinting and pushing through however, most other parts of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin are a raucous amount of fun from start to finish.

Screenshot for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin  on PlayStation 5

The combat is far and above the star of the show, something that is evident from the offset. As a standard RPG trope, main character Jack (Dante, Geralt, whatever suits) lumbers around with his hugely unnecessary, and often unwieldy, massive sword. After a few swings on some generic runts job classes unlock. This is the meat and two vegetables of Stranger of Paradise and the main reason to pick it up by a long stretch. Swapping between jobs throughout the missions laid out is an incredible amount of fun, made even more so by the RPG progression system applied to it. Earn EXP by seeing off anything that stands in your way (usually ending in an immensely satisfying crystal QTE), and then apply said EXP to the job role. This will unlock new abilities and ways to combo as well as the usual buffs and helpful assets. As with previous titles under the FF banner, once levelled enough, these job roles can then be upgraded themselves to a higher mode advanced class. Final Fantasy veterans will be familiar with the progression and will know what to expect when a lancer is ready to progress. Dragoons are awesome.

Screenshot for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin  on PlayStation 5

Missions are a blast and even in the normal difficulties, arrogance and button mashing will be punished at every opportunity. Enemies are pulled from previous titles, and all seem much more threatening in combat refusing to focus on turn-based attacks. If overwhelmed, there is the Lightbringer option to level the playing field allowing a clear out of surrounding intrusions, but the most satisfying approach is the single out and punish method. If familiar with the enemies littering the maze-like passageways, it can be easy to spot some of the more obvious weaknesses (hmm, what magic would be suitable against a big fiery bomb, one has to wonder) but with others, experimentation is key. The Soul Shield counter move is also a great deal of fun to use, and vital for some of the nastier bosses. Enemies will telegraph each attack with its name as well as a three-colour system. Orange is a normal blockable strike, red is unblockable, and purple can be countered with the soul strike system. By pressing the counter button at the correct moment the attack will be stored and thrown back whenever your fancy takes you. One early boss battle uses this to great effect with fire spells being saved to lob back at a water deity for immense damage. As previously mentioned with these details, combat is the star of the show.

Combat aside, any resemblance to previous titles is minimal at best. It would be easy to throw in the old "without spoiling too much" comment for the plot beats here, but in all honesty, the story feels so mental in the early stages that it might not even be worth mentioning at all. What can be said, however, is that by the time the credits roll, a JRPG story with a deep reference to the original Square masterpiece is evident, even if it takes a few Kingdom Hearts-level of absurdities along the way.

Screenshot for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin  on PlayStation 5

One hindrance on the story that may prevent full completion, and quite a major one at that, is the character cast itself. One note, flat, boring placeholders that make Noctis and his crew seem Shakespearian by comparison. Main man Jack mumbles incoherently over and over about Chaos, killing Chaos, meeting Chaos, becoming Chaos… the list goes on. Name checking the rest of the party would also be pointless, just think of them as 'Tank,' 'Comic Relief,' and 'Wise Woman.' For a company praised for creating such incredible world building and lore, its amazing how little effort can be put into its main protagonists.

All missions can be enjoyed in solo - but when this review was written, most dips were taken using the superbly stable online mode. Players can jump in and out of missions at will with rooms being created for both standard and sub varieties. When facing a particularly tiresome foe it can be a lifesaving moment when some hero steps out of the darkness to lend a hand. Some of the sub-missions specifically can become incredibly challenging if alone and having an experienced player by your side can often be vital.

Screenshot for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin  on PlayStation 5

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Credit should be given to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin for trying something different, and nobody could argue that it certainly is that. With a distinct lack of the plot and character polish, players approaching this as an RPG can easily overlook this. With such excellent combat options and a real sense of fun throughout, though, it more than stands alongside its peers in both the role-playing and Souls-like genres. Why it looks so bad, that's a mystery in itself…


Team Ninja


Square Enix


Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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