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Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. Japanese shame

At the Square Enix presentation at E3 2021, only two new games were announced: Guardians of the Galaxy from Eidos Montreal and Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, a strange spin-off of the famous RPG series. Almost immediately, its demo version for PS5 came out - so you can talk about it in more detail.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame

Woe creators

Tetsuya Nomura appears to have virtually unlimited creative freedom at Square Enix. As crazy as his ideas and character designs were, they miraculously always found their way into games. Only once did Nomura crash: when, after years of fruitless work on  Final Fantasy Versus XIII (later  Final Fantasy XV ), he was removed from his post as director and released without him. Then he  said that the development of  Kingdom Hearts III is putting "a burning rage in the heart." But KH is still a kind and optimistic game, so he clearly has an uncovered gestalt.
But when he was approached with a proposal to come up with a concept for the next offshoot of Final Fantasy, Nomura  formulated it as "the story of an angry man." For some reason, Square Enix management found this concept worthy.
Nomura is also the character designer. If his creations are usually ridiculed for their excessive pretentiousness and an abundance of belts/fasteners, then the Evil Man (the main character of Stranger of Paradise) performed by Nomura turned out to be so boring that it is easy to confuse him with the protagonists of Western games ten years ago. His name is appropriate - "Jack". For some reason no one in Square, no one asked the question, "Is this really Final Fantasy?"
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Kazushige Nojima, who worked on the FF and KH series all his life, was invited to the script - both with successful releases and not so much. It's not hard to guess which category his new work will fall into. After all, Nojima himself is very proud of Jack's remark defining him as a character. It sounds like this:
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
I only know one thing: I want to kill Chaos. I need this. This is not a hope, not a dream. It's like hunger or thirst.
Jack only has Chaos on his mind. He knows nothing more and does not want to know. Not much better and his partners Jed and Ash. They do not have their own motivation, and their characters are described in monosyllables: "cheerful" and "calm", respectively.
All that remained was to somehow screw it all into Final Fantasy. Nomura and Nojima took the simplest path: they decided to once again, for the third time, abuse the plot of the very first part of FF. After all, he is so rudimentary that he is not sorry: "some guys defeat the knight Garland, then travel, collecting MacGuffins, and at the end, they beat the demon of Chaos, which Garland has turned into." You put the Evil Man heroes and his support group in place - and voila. It turns out to be a real Final Fantasy Origin. Nobody blinks an eye, right?
However, the trailer for Stranger of Paradise, which ended the E3 presentation of Square Enix, was laughed at by the public. Everything about him literally looked shabby. And the graphics, as if migrated from the PS3. And a stuffy gray color scheme reminiscent of those times. And a protagonist who looks like  Eminem, turning monsters with his blows into some kind of red crystals. And, of course, the dialogues in which the word "Chaos" was repeated more often than in the entire first Final Fantasy.
The trailer immediately got a noticeable number of dislikes. Few defenders of Stranger of Paradise wrote down its merits of being different from modern AAA releases, nostalgia for the times of aggressive nu-metal, and a ridiculous amount of Chaos. The game has become a meme, a template for jokes. After all, it is impossible to take this seriously.
The demo, which was released shortly after the end of the broadcast, also added fuel to the fire: it simply did not start. Nobody. It took the developers two days to patch it. Then it turned out that a clone of Nioh was hiding under the guise of Chaos.

Hello again

The game was developed by Team Ninja - the one who previously made the completely unplayable Dissidia Final Fantasy NT for Square EnixThe one that did not come up with anything for the sequel Nioh that would justify the number 2 in the title. And for Stranger of Paradise, in general, she did not come up with it either: in the presented demo, what is not disgusting is secondary.
There is no need to describe how souls like games work for the tenth time, so I will concentrate only on the features of the novelty. There are no racks from Nioh here. A simple hit on R1 can be combined or charged, and instead of a strong hit on R2, there is a super-skill that is used for mana.
The interface is taken straight from Final Fantasy VII Remake - right down to the fonts and icons
Each enemy under the health bar also has a defense bar. If you demolish it, the enemy will open for finishing (by turning it into a crystal): this restores mana. In addition to the block that can be held, Jack also owns a super-block, which requires accurate timing, but at the same time restores mana and allows you to quickly go into a counteroffensive. However, the use of any block lowers Jack's defense scale - if it is pierced, he will open for a long time to catch his breath.
There is no endurance here, so you can chop and roll as much as you like. The catch is that the damage is taken also lowers defense. That is, if, for example, you perfectly used the super-block twice, but then missed one hit, Jack will go for a smoke break, and the enemy will continue to attack. The berserk mode activated for mana can save from this, but it must be turned on in advance.
Jack also owns several "final" professions and can switch between the two on the fly to choose from. The demo features a giant two-handed warrior, an excruciatingly slow mage, and a jumping dragoon with a spear. Each class has its own skill tree, where passive skills, stat increases, and new attacks are unlocked. However, only one boss, Garland, makes you understand the essence of the battle. The rest of the opponents, in principle, do not throw any challenge, "bonfires" are placed generously, and death does not deprive either experience or collected items.
It's 2021. The camera in Stranger of Paradise still does not know how to behave if the hero is near the wall
From monsters, in the manner of Nioh, multi-colored loot falls - equipment of varying degrees of utility. As a result, after each battle, you have to go into the menu and check what is new to wear - or at least press the button "optimize gear". The most noticeable benefit from the new clothes is the change in Jack's appearance, who at the beginning of the demo looked criminally boring.
Jack's companions are like parts of a set. You cannot wait for sensible remarks from them, and in battle, if they decide to hit someone, they will inflict miserable damage. Sometimes enemies can be distracted by them, and if you are very lucky, this will happen at a convenient moment for you. But in most cases, you won't get lucky. Playing as a slow caster, when none of your comrades can give at least a couple of seconds of respite to activate the spell, is very sad, and if these idiots die, the game will offer to raise them to their feet - at the cost of healing flasks, of which there are only five in your inventory.
In general, the battles feel ... bad. Like Nioh, where instead of a system of racks - a change of professions, only much cheaper. Jack waves a huge sword, but his hits on enemies are not felt at all - as if chopping the air. If it weren't for the damage numbers, one would think that you are missing over and over again. The miraculous PS5 controller could give subtle tactile feedback in battle, but no: the vibration in the demo cannot be turned off in principle, but where it is needed it does not work. One-on-one enemies do not pose any danger and therefore they take in numbers, meanly attacking from behind. Unblockable attacks are telegraphed with an "ominous aura" around opponents that is completely unreadable. Sometimes swings with a giant sword stun enemies, and sometimes it seems that Jack is holding a feather in his hands, with which he gently strokes them.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.  Japanese shame
The demo looks, however, even worse than it plays. On PS5, it renders a picture of early PS3 games - with eerie, wry-eyed anti-aliasing, ugly effects, and a faded gray-green color scheme, as if it were not Final Fantasy, but Fallout 3It is difficult to find such a frame of the demo that would be pleasant to look at. Instead of music, there is a cacophony, and Jack's growl tires out in the first minute.
Usually, the announcement of the game promises with three boxes, and on the release, there may be reasons for disappointment. In the case of Stranger of Paradise, from the very start there is no reason to hope for something good: judging by the demo, everything in it is either deeply secondary or frankly bad. From concept to implementation, from character design to script, from combat to technical execution. The best Square Enix can do is cancel it by redirecting resources to something else. For example, another Final Fantasy spin-off made by more talented people.

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