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Everything we know about Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

Final Fantasy Origin
(Image credit: Square Enix / Team Ninja)

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin was the surprise highlight and nadir of E3 2021. It's an action-RPG in development by Team Ninja, and its stunningly bad trailer instantly spawned a meme thanks to the repetition of the words "Kill Chaos." It also didn't help that its trio of characters looked like they walked straight out of a mid-2000s emo band. The game took itself so seriously, it was impossible for us to.

But Stranger of Paradise's debut wasn't all bad. Promise: Beneath that "My Bloody Valentine music video" aesthetic, this looks like it could be a good action game, and Team Ninja has proved its chops with recent action RPGs Nioh and Nioh 2. 

It's sure an odd turn for Final Fantasy—especially because this edgelord-to-the-max game is actually a retelling of the original Final Fantasy game from 1987—but maybe it'll surprise us.

Here's everything we know about Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

What is the Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin Release Date?

In October, Square Enix released a new trailer for Stranger of Paradise and revealed that it's coming surprisingly soon, on March 18th, 2022. On PC, it'll launch exclusively on the Epic Games Store.

Square Enix apparently wasn't happy about those Chaos jokes

Stranger of Paradise's second trailer, which you can watch above, is a bit better than its first—although it's not as funny, which is a bit of a shame. It seems like Square Enix didn't appreciate killing Chaos becoming a viral joke, because you may notice that the words aren't uttered once in the Tokyo Game Show trailer. Does that mean the game's gotten some frenzied rewrites, or that the trailer editors were under strict orders to avoid Chaos name drops? Probably the latter, but we'll find out in March.

Here is the Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin E3 Reveal Trailer

You can squint through your fingers at the Final Fantasy Origin trailer above. It's a train-wreck, the most bizarre reveal for a game I've seen in years. I'm not going to describe it; you must bear witness to the horror yourself. Sit down and prepare to cringe yourself inside-out: this one's a wild ride.

Watched it? Now read our own Mollie passionately defending Stranger of Paradise, angst and all.

And here is the much better gameplay demo

Now that your skeleton is on the outside, you're ready to watch the thirty-minute gameplay demo showing Stranger of Paradise in action. It isn't quite a night-and-day comparison, more night-and-early-evening. But in the demo at least, Stranger of Paradise looks like an entertaining action game rather than a compilation of memes.

It's also surprisingly raw for an E3 demo, showing extensive navigation of menus and even tutorial textboxes. Frankly, it's refreshing to see a demo that isn't manicured within an inch of its life, although I don't think it's done Team Ninja any favours, given the (somewhat unfair) complaints about how rough the game looks.

What is the story of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins?

You're here to kill Chaos! Jeez, were you paying any attention?

Seriously though, Stranger of Paradise is a pseudo-remake of the very first Final Fantasy. It takes place in the same fantasy world as that game, and roughly follows the premise and certain plot points of that game. For example, at one point in the trailer, one of the characters describes the party as "Warriors of Light", which is pretty directly inspired by FF1's four "Light Warriors". Meanwhile, the boss at the end of the gameplay demo is named "Garland", which is also the name of a knight the player fights in Final Fantasy.

In an interview with Famitsu translated by IGN, creative producers Tetsuya Nomura explained that Stranger of Paradise "is not a direct continuation to FF1's story, but a new story inspired by it." Going further, he stated "The game was inspired by FF1. The setting is based on FF1 as well. Where did the Warriors of Light come from and who are they? This is something you find out in the ending of FF1."

Who do you play as in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins?

Some dude named Jack. No really. It's a terrible name for a fantasy video-game lead, albeit fitting for the raging personality vacuum that Team Ninja has created. Jack is the leader of the Warriors of Light, although they should be called the Warriors of Test. He makes Kratos look like the God of Calm, smashing enemies into bloody crystals while screaming things like "I'll crush you!" and "Feel the pain!"

Jack is accompanied on his adventure by two other characters, Ash and Jed, who might as well not be there for all the impact they have on both the game and the story. Jed is seemingly the comic-relief of the group, with a voice like a weasel being strangled. There isn't much insight on Ash, sadly. He appears to be the muscle of the group, although given they can all smash enemies into pulp, this would be a rather superfluous characterisation.

Speaking to Famitsu, Normura explained that the title "Strangers of Paradise" related to the roles the three characters play in the world. "Who are Jack and his friends? Are they the Warriors of Light? These function as the main themes in the story, so in the story they are depicted as strangers." I feel like he should have added "Why should you care?" as I see little in Origins' approach to storytelling that's likely to keep me engaged.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

How does Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin play?

The demo shows a cross between the team-based combat of the Final Fantasy 7 remake, with the tougher, more reaction-based fighting of Team Ninja's Nioh series. Jack can switch between different weapon "jobs", which include the likes of "Swordsman" "Black Mage" and "Lancer". Each of these has a different range of attacks and combos that are unlocked by gaining experience. They can also be switched on-the-fly, enabling more nuanced combat strategies.

For the demo's first half, the combat is a mindless hack 'n' slash affair. At the point where Jack and his pals encounter some skeletons, however, enemies become much tougher and able to deal more damage. The final confrontation with Knight Garland is a full-on Nioh style fight, with Garland dealing fast-paced powerful attacks that can swipe a third off Jack's health bar.  

Interestingly, blocking attacks (which you do with an ability called "Soul Shield") does not seem to completely stop health damage, but health regenerates over time. Hence, it seems you'll have to be careful about how you time engagements with enemies, finding moments to catch a breather and using special abilities that help regenerate health.

(Image credit: Square Enix / Team Ninja)

When an enemy health bar reaches a critical level, Jack can perform a brutal execution manoeuvre that turns his foe into exploding red crystals. Some areas also see enemies emerging from "Dark Vents", which have to be destroyed to stop them from spawning. These vents are often attached to environmental obstacles which collapse when the vents are destroyed, a neat way of opening up new paths for the player.

Beyond the action, Stranger of Paradise also appears to have some light puzzle solving. At one point, the team encounters a corridor blocked by an inferno, and Jack has to use a water spell to douse the flames. I wouldn't expect anything too complicated in that regard: Strangers of Paradise seems to be primarily an action game, with its handful of environmental obstacles existing mainly for pacing's sake.

All told, it looks like an acceptable action game. It doesn't look great—a splash of colour and a completely new script wouldn't go amiss—but I don't think it represents a Yaiba-level disaster either.

Will you get to kill Chaos?

It would be extremely funny if you didn't.