In the end, all the stories are "always the same", the importance is in the details: at least this is evident from novels, films, TV series and video games. All information that Christopher Vogler included in his “The Hero's Journey”, and which we now find in most recent (and not) invented works. However, this does not mean that everything is bad: it can also be seen in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, new video game by Square Enix that we have stripped of in the review and that has delighted us with his act a bit 'braggart, a bit' brave.
In "The Hero's Journey", the path taken by the protagonist is basically aimed atself-realization, and to do so the character must necessarily take steps. Obviously, to get to the end, he will have to defeat the Dragon, save the Maiden, seize the Treasure or build the Kingdom: all this may seem approximate, but in the end the Dragon it can be any enemy, even a great fighter devoted to evil or evil itself, its personification.
However, to approach the archetype in question there is clearly the retelling, a widespread practice in literature that takes the classics and re-proposes them in a particular way: it is therefore not impossible to find perhaps a book that, starting from Beauty and the Beast, tells something similar but with different settings and characterizations. The peculiarity of retelling is the ability to maintain certain statuses that can mislead the reader, making him doubt that then turn, within the network, into theories. Because of this it is not impossible to see a retelling then connect to the main plot becoming one spin off, or propose a story that then goes to replace the original one (and if we assume that the first Final Fantasy also plays with the cyclical nature of the story…). Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin starts from the concept of retelling, and does so with what is in effect a classic of video games, that is the first Final Fantasy.
We won't spoil any twists or plot-soaked parts of the game, so let's say everything we can say. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin follows the retelling scheme and does it in a congenial way, adapting everything to a world Dark fantasy very technologically advanced. So forget about wizards in the strict sense of the term, but more than anything else get used to the idea of having four characters from a sort of Japanese Hollywood, ready to fight to defeat Chaos.
With the dark fantasy and with the modernity However, the details change, and this is one of the reasons that make Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin a good game (as we will explain more in the review). Every single detail is consistent with the setting, which would certainly not have worked in the original but which finds a comfortable space here. Of course, the dialogues do not shine with originality and the plot seems almost (deliberately) thrown on the table, but those who know the classic will surely find many points of contact.
A big credit therefore goes to the way the game is played change setting, in a brilliant way: certainly having fresher dialogue, better script and pacing construction and a more accurate characterization of the characters would have made it better overall, but if there's one thing that speaks as good as the plot of this game, is the combat system. Another thing that should be highlighted is the lightness - but in this case negative - that the plot offers in some cases: some scenes are really born randomly, tracing the simplicity of the 1987 video games without however taking into account that 35 years later the public is now shrewd.
Compare this Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin to a soulslike it is a difficult exercise: the game has many differences, but the points of contact are there and must be highlighted. The combat system penalizes less stamina, which in the end is important but will never leave you helpless, and takes more of the Action RPG landscape than soulslike.
Instead, the class system (jobs) is brilliant, something imported directly from the original game that finds new life in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (and which colored the experience of creating the build in the review). In fact, during the game Jack (the protagonist) will be able to unlock many weapons, and depending on which he will use, he will have classes: two will be equipped and interchangeable with a button, the others can be chosen at each Prisma (the equivalent of bonfires in the Souls ed).
So if Jack's companions have any pre-established classes (which can then change, but basically those are), Jack himself will be able to choose from many and, depending on which one he will take, will have a skill tree and a precise style. During the game, by upgrading the tree, the player will be able to unlock skills that will be placed in the menu (which can be chosen during the combos), as well as unlock other classes (born from the crossing of two upgraded as much as they have to).
There are so many classes available, and by advancing the two choices they can create a sort of build - since the classes will also be able to unlock skills to be activated, which can be equipped regardless - giving that personalized touch to Jack useful for an Action RPG. Also interesting is the way Team Ninja has created various ways of resisting attacks, starting from the classic dodging and parrying, advancing up to the spiritual shield (which in some cases can even absorb skills and in any case will charge you the MP) and has prepared various offensive skills that could save you during the most excited.
The difficulty of the crystals
As we said at the beginning of the review, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin it is not exactly a soulslike and the difficulty highlights it: the intermediate mode in fact offers a digestible gaming experience, while only the most difficult tends to approach the classics of Miyazaki. Despite everything, as you advance in the game the difficulty will falter showing an imbalance not too heavy, but just enough to annoy during the game. In the end however the three different difficulties manage to get everyone to agree, both those who want to follow only the plot, both those who want to play carefree, and those who want a really hard experience to overcome.
The depth of the gameplay then it shows itself immediately, and will be able to give the player the freedom to choose his own style: as in the original, also in this case having a heterogeneous party helps, but basically the possibility of enhancing the classes at each Prism, and to change them even during the mission, makes everything very quick.
The game also offers a chance to farming not at all silly: if in fact the main missions are scattered around the game map and can be selected from the menu, once the main mission is completed, you can dedicate yourself to the secondary and optional one of that area. In that case, you will be able to see the reward before starting, so you can choose whether or not to jump.
The whole game proposes the system a dungeon, reducing the exploration phases to simple progress - very linear - up to the boss on duty. No purely exploratory phases therefore, those will be reduced to dialogues scattered throughout the game. For the rest, the enemies you will encounter in your adventure - albeit pushed towards more sci-fi than fantasy choices - will be really interesting to fight (given that they are taken from the mythology of Final Fantasy) and the finishing moves that Jack can do every time he exhausts one of them, will be nothing short of exciting. Too bad that many of these enemies in the long run become repetitive, without having a too sensible placement in terms of plot, but put them just to insert a challenge.Review
- Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (Tested on PS5) 8.5 Final grade
The retelling of a great classic that plays with longtime fans and offers something fresh to newbies. Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is a proto-soulslike capable of thrilling not so much for the plot (which may seem dull from the dialogues) as for the deep gameplay, closer to Dark Souls and Nioh than the old Final Fantasies. The Action RPG goes well with the game, and the retelling takes its cue from a fantasy closer to dark sci-fi than the classic. A fun and rewarding experience for those looking for such a title, but certainly a different and "strange" point of view for those who really played the first Final Fantasy.