It’s been roughly 35 years since the original Final Fantasy was released and fans of the RPG franchise are going to be able to return to Cornelia once again thanks to Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. The spin-off from the mainline Final Fantasy franchise breaks away from the usual RPG format and offers players a challenging action gameplay experience paired with a brand-new look at one of the series’ most iconic locations and villains.
SOPFFO puts players in control of Jack, the leader of a band of heroes who are all linked by their obsession with hunting down and killing Chaos (a goal that spawned a lot of Chaos memes when the first announcement trailer dropped). The story is full of characters and locations that die-hard fans of the original Final Fantasy are sure to recognize. Many friendly and not-so-friendly NPCs reflect characters from the original release. That said, the game’s story is entirely standalone and should still make sense (as much sense as a Final Fantasy game ever makes) to new audiences, as well.
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In terms of gameplay, the combination of RPG elements like upgrading loot and working through a series of talent trees (one for each Job) with Souls-like difficult combat and mapless exploration does make for a pretty interesting and exciting gameplay loop. Players don’t have to commit to one Job (the Final Fantasy version of classes) and can freely swap between each of the Jobs at any point during a dungeon. During active combat, players have two Jobs equipped and can switch back and forth between them with a single click. The dual Job pairing makes for some interesting strategy choices (especially at the harder difficulty levels) as players try to optimize their party for each boss.
For those who are frightened at the idea of challenging action combat, it should be noted that the game includes three difficulty levels for…