Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action role-playing game developed by Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja, and published by Square Enix in celebration of the series’ 35th anniversary. As an alternate universe prequel of Square Enix’s original Final Fantasy on the NES, the storyline follows a set of characters brought into a fantasy world to face the malevolent Chaos.The game was released in March 2022 for Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an action role-playing game in which players take on the role of protagonist Jack Garland, exploring environments and fighting monsters of the Final Fantasy series. Combat takes place in real-time, with Jack being able to switch between two assigned jobs and use physical and magical attacks. Once an enemy’s “break gauge” is depleted, Jack can perform a finishing blow that crystallizes the enemy, allowing Jack to harvest them and restore a portion of his magic meter.
Stranger of Paradise is being co-developed by franchise creator Square Enix and Koei Tecmo division Team Ninja. It is being co-directed by Daisuke Inoue from Square Enix and Hiroya Usuda and Nobumichi Kumabe from Team Ninja; co-produced by Jin Fujiwara from Square Enix and Fumihiko Yasuda from Team Ninja. The story and scenario are being written by Stellavista Ltd. freelancer scriptwriter Kazushige Nojima. Longtime Square Enix employee Tetsuya Nomura created the original concept, and acts as character designer and creative producer in the game. The music is being composed by Naoshi Mizuta, with additional contributions by Hidenori Iwasaki and Ryo Yamazaki. Nomura created the initial idea for Origin after production finished on Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, imagining an action-focused game about conquering locations. When later approached for a new Final Fantasy concept, he combined this initial concept with a different concept of a game series focusing on Final Fantasy’s villain Garland, as an angry older protagonist to create the final concept.Due to the shift in tone, Nomura originally thought it would be an original title, but Inoue and Fujiwara pushed for its inclusion in the franchise.
The aim behind the title was a mature, “brutal” take on the Final Fantasy series that would separate it from the rest of the franchise while retaining connections to it. The gameplay was designed to emulate Team Ninja’s known style of challenging action combat; Team Ninja had previously worked with Square Enix on Dissidia Final Fantasy NT. The job system, a recurring feature of Final Fantasy, took inspiration from the system created for Final Fantasy V, with Inoue saying there were more jobs than that game featured in Stranger of Paradise.The game combines the job system with Soulslike gameplay elements.The level designs deliberately emulated or referenced other numbered entries, such as a wooded wetland area taking inspiration from the Sunleth Waterscape from Final Fantasy XIII.
Rather than a remake of the first Final Fantasy, Stranger of Paradise was a new storyline using the original as inspiration, focusing on the themes of examining the role and goals of Warriors of Light. In contrast to the pale crystals used across most of the series, the red crystals and blood-colored elements of artwork emphasised the darker tone.Commenting on the scenario, Nojima highlighted one line, “it’s not a hope or a dream. It’s like a hunger. A thirst”, as the mainspring of the story.The subtitle had a dual meaning of the party literally being strangers in the game world, and the party being unwelcome in the game’s “paradise”.Character Princess Sara was designed by Roberto Ferrari, who emulated the original game’s design for her. The key artwork was created by Square Enix’s Image Studio CGI division under Nomura’s supervision.