During the conference SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS a few days ago a title that had been rumored on the net for some time was officially announced, developed by NINJA team of KOEI TECMO GAMES on behalf of the house of the Chocobo and belonging to the saga of FINAL FANTASY. The title in question turned out to be STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, made playable with a demo available for a limited time on PlayStation 5 which, after almost two days of darkness, it finally began to work. Here is an analysis following our test of this preliminary version of the title.
STRANGER OF PARADISE is set in an alternate version of the universe of the very first FINAL FANTASY, and it is denoted by the presence of Garland about to become Chaos, already seen in the now famous video presentation, as well as that of the princess Sarah (mentioned in some dialogues) and the inevitable Warriors of the Light. The demo version begins with a tutorial set in a cornfield, which allows us to practice basic movements and actions, ranging from simple attack to using offensive and defensive skills. The actual game will begin in Temple of Chaos, within which our Jack and his companions Ash is Jed they will have to make their way through hordes of Goblin, Piros, Bleeding and other enemies to get to what they believe to be “Chaos”. Although it is clearly an action RPG that aims to bring soulslike fans closer to the FINAL FANTASY universe, there are many differences with the exponents of the genre created by FromSoftware, as well as with the same Nioh by the same developer.
We can say goodbye to the presence of souls, or amrite, since each death will not entail penalties in the experience points obtained. The latter, on the other hand, will allow us to level up the classes that our alter-ego can equip. The peculiarity of the title is in fact that of providing two interchangeable classes with the single press of a button during the battles, each with their own equipment, their own techniques, their own customizable combos and their own skill tree. We will start with the class of Swordsman, using the sword already seen in the announcement trailer. Coming to the bottom of the skill tree we will be able to evolve the class into that Warrior, and at our disposal in this trial version we also find the Magician and the Lancer, which will respectively evolve into Black Magician is Dragon. Each type of class is effective against certain enemies, for example it is better to face the Goblins with a melee weapon such as the sword, while the Pyros or Skeletons will be more vulnerable to magical attacks. The wizard class will also be able to charge elemental spells making them more powerful: for example, by holding down the button R2, Fire will become Fira and we can throw it with the R1 towards the hooked enemy. Holding down R1, instead, we will charge a more powerful attack, but which will put us hopelessly at a disadvantage towards the enemies.
The classic vulnerability of the elements takes on a greater depth thanks to the “Friendly fire” – if we want to define it that way. We will find ourselves, for example, throwing a Piros that turns its back on us off a precipice and the fall damage will make it explode in a sea of fire that will damage all the wolves below. The characteristic “Parry“In STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is replaced by the Spiritual Shield: pressing the circle button with the right timing we can deflect the physical or magical attacks of the enemies, and in some cases we can absorb them and enjoy some uses of the same skill or magic. Taking advantage of the fire “stolen” by a Piros, in some cases, we will be able to make our way into areas otherwise inaccessible because covered by brambles, within which we will find useful chests. Pushing enemies into the state of collapsemoreover, we can literally finish them by pressing the circle key using theSpiritual Impetus: Jack will crystallize them and detonate them, often raising the level of the classes we use.
As in the more classic exponent of the subgenre, bonfires are present in the form of Prisms, which will restore our energy and potions in the inventory and bring all slain enemies back to life. In a very similar way to the two Nioh, by killing the enemies or opening the chests mentioned above we will find new weapons and pieces of equipment, which will be indicated by different colors of the name depending on the rarity and by an arrow upwards, if more powerful than the equipped piece, or downwards if weaker. Among the things we liked the most is the way these items can be equipped quickly: by opening the menu item “Tactics”We just need to press the button L3 to automatically equip all the most powerful items and weapons.
The operation will be repeated for all the assets in use, that is the two (at the moment, in the demo) jobs that we will have equipped. Furthermore, our assets can be saved in special slots to be used at a later time as needed. At the moment, in the demo, It is not possible to change classes and equipment for our companions, and unfortunately their artificial intelligence leaves a lot to be desired: often their ideal use will be that of human shields, both in the battle against hordes of enemies, both against bosses like the fearsome Garland that we will find at the bottom of this Trial. The appearance of Jack, and presumably also that of Ash and Jed, can only be changed in the clothes, in the demo it is not possible for us to choose alternative features and hairstyles for any of them, and it is not clear if this will be different in the final version of the game.
Assuming that this version of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN it is quite immature from a technical point of view, it is possible to play the demo using the two classic graphic modes to which this next-gen has already accustomed us: the mode Resolution, with a resolution of 4K and 30fps, and a mode Performance with lower resolution and 60 fps. In both cases, unfortunately, the result is definitely not the best. The title still seems very backward, probably because it is still in development, and at times you will feel like you are playing one of the first titles released on PS4 rather than on PlayStation 5. Both modes are affected by noticeable drops in frame rates in the most chaotic situations, and neither of them will give us the feeling of being in front of a new generation title. We will notice the 4K resolution mode in the HUD, while the actual game will still seem too dated even in comparison to the graphics of the first Nioh remastered for the same console.
What we can hope is that in this time that separates us from the release of the game, currently scheduled for 2022, the NINJA team manages to perfect it to the best from a technical point of view, given that in terms of gameplay we are faced with a frenetic, exciting Action RPG with revisited soulslike mechanics to better blend with the FINAL FANTASY universe, with elements that make it less frustrating than a Nioh, but equally challenging and with a well-balanced learning curve. We think that STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is a promising title, despite the very uninspired character design and the currently mediocre technical sector, a decidedly more fun game than it appeared in the little emphasizing debut trailer. Imagine it as a soulslike tamarro and as frenetic as a stylish action style Devil May Cry, but set in the world of the first FINAL FANTASY. At the end of the demo we are given the opportunity to answer a survey addressed to developers: we are sure that, thanks to the feedback of the players, the final product will be satisfactory in many ways.