I have been putting off reviewing this one since I started it on release day as I had convinced myself the game would get old and become boring throughout my time with it, and that reviewing it early on would skew my review in such a way that I wouldn’t feel the same by the end of Stranger of Paradise’s projected 30+ hour run time. I can officially say now that I have beaten the game what I thought of the whole experience, for better or worse. Let’s start with the good things about Stranger of Paradise, shall we?

One of the real standouts for me was the music of the game. On the surface you would expect Stranger of Paradise to be filled with metal guitar riffs and musical tastings akin to Dante & Nero’s latest outings, and whilst you would be completely correct to assume this for a lot of it; what really sets the musical stylings of Stranger of Paradise apart is that it is regularly injected with a “Final Fantasy” flair using verses or choruses from all the previous Final Fantasy titles.

Then comes the story. Stranger of Paradise is accused of being quite shallow by many video games critics, failing to portray the complex story beats that we have become used to as veterans of JRPG’s. To this critique I say: Where’s the issue? Stranger of Paradise works so well in diving into the action and making Jack an incredibly blunt Vin Diesel style character in a Final Fantasy world. In fact, sometimes Jack perfectly portrays the “cut scene skipping player”, with one boss fight springing to mind when they are going on and on with a big monologue, to which Jack shouts: “I don’t give a f*** who you are” and then proceeds to punch said boss right in the chops.

I LOVED this about the game and felt it was definitely one of the stronger elements, but what really shocked me is how Stranger of Paradise eventually evolves into a complex story about brotherhood and trying to survive in this new unknown world.

I guess the main thing people want to know when looking at this game is: Does it play well? My dear reader I am here to tell you that it plays so good. SOOOO so good. Stranger of Paradise is essentially Nioh but I can punch Malboro’s in the face!

Being honest, on the surface Stranger of Paradise begins and feels like if you have played any action game before then you have played Stranger of Paradise, being a fairly basic action title using the standard button prompts to beat someone up to a point you can get a move that destroys them. Pretty standard fare right? What sets this apart is the Jobs. Stranger of Paradise features classic Final Fantasy style jobs set to the games many different weapon types. Wanna be a Samurai? Go right ahead. Wanna go Thief? You can!

This also leads into quite a deep levelling system which I absolutely adored. Essentially what you can do is level up certain jobs (to a max level of 30 though you rarely need to go this high) and at the bottom of each of these job trees are more advanced jobs of this type. For example, if you are playing as a Thief and level up enough, you can then progress onto becoming an Assassin, giving you access to a larger variety of weaponry and more powerful abilities.

I loved this entire system and my personal weapons of choice were my own two fists for one class or playing as a Sage who could cast both black and white magic to help the party out (or when a pesky Flan showed up) eventually gaining the ability to cast the boss wiping Ultima ability that carried me through the endgame.

The game is split into levels that take around an hour each, there is no free roaming overworld you can get lost in but I think, again, this only works in the its favour.

One final thing I’d like to confirm as I am aware that many people are worried about the difficulty of this title when it was called a SoulsLike and even my own comparisons to Nioh is that it has difficulty settings and, contrary to popular belief, if you want to play the game on easy it doesn’t make you any less of a gamer. You can even start on Normal if you so choose then change mid-game if you come across a level that you are finding insurmountable without affecting your trophy progress.

In fact, there is only one difficulty related trophy and that’s to complete the game on Chaos mode; essentially new game plus.

I guess it’s all good things. I really didn’t find anything I didn’t like with Stranger of Paradise, I understand that the Fast & Furious style story can be a little shallow to Final Fantasy veterans but I genuinely feel that this story only does the game favours, as well as leaning heavily into its action focus that it so successfully displays. With this in mind I am going to go against what many critics have said and simply review it based on the level of enjoyment I had with; so purely for fun reasons I give Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin

9 / 10

What do you think of the game? Am I wildly off the mark? Let me know in the comments below!