*Minor spoilers for Stranger from Heaven: Final Fantasy Origin before*
A small trailer shown at E3 2021 was quick to spark countless memes.
The first trailer for Stranger from Heaven: Final Fantasy Origin, developed by Team Ninja and published by Square Enix, has gained notoriety associated with one word: chaos. The teaser in question introduced the game’s protagonist, Jack Garland, and it made sure audiences knew how much they hated the villain known as Chaos, for reasons that aren’t really explained. Due to his short-tempered attitude and apparent inability to think of anything but killing Chaos, Jack immediately gained a fan following, albeit in a humorous way.
By the time stranger from paradise was released in March 2022, other snippets of the game had leaked out, which further illustrated how hilarious people saw Jack as a character. As many will attest, Jack is so devoted to his main goal that he almost feels like he’s trying to skip the game’s cutscenes. He gets angry and stomps whenever secondary characters ask him for favors. . He interrupts or walks away from the characters when they try to immerse themselves in their story or open up to him. Most hilarious, he interrupts the bad guys and tries to punch them in the middle of their monologues. Yeah, Jack is fiery. As fun as it is for much of the game, it also becomes a key point in the story.
In the second half of stranger from paradise, it is revealed that Jack and the other four members of the group – Jed, Ash, Neon and Sophia – have unexpected reasons for being so devoted to killing Chaos. Jack having short patience and tunnel vision is vindicated by the game’s lore and narrative, and his rage is integral to his character arc rather than just being funny to behold. The story is obviously aware of Jack’s character type and how he will be perceived by players. People will probably laugh at some of the cheesiest moments in the game, even when the story gets serious, but there’s always an interesting tale to tell along the way.
stranger from paradiseThe themes of anger and chaos don’t just bring the story full circle. They are also reflected in its gameplay. It is an action role-playing game that prioritizes action first and strategy second. That’s not to say the game doesn’t have some enjoyable role-playing aspects. It actually has a practical aspect job system that allows the player to get creative with their approaches to stages and boss fights. When it comes to core gameplay and boss mechanics, however, there aren’t too many situations where the player has to stress themselves out to strategize. This may be unappealing to many Japanese RPG fans, but for stranger from paradiseit works as is.
Just as Jack prefers, the player will not be distracted throughout the story. There are no side quests except optional ones side missions which are mainly for leveling up the player and obtaining equipment. There are also no open worlds or areas for the player to explore outside of linear stages. Again, this might be a little disappointing for some of a Final Fantasy game, but for a spin-off and the narrative of an older title, this simple level design works well both on its own and with a protagonist who doesn’t have time to fill in.
stranger from paradise is not a perfect game, nor the crème de la crème of storytelling. What it manages to accomplish, however, is an enjoyable 20-hour experience that entertains in both gameplay and story. Whether that entertainment comes through laughter or intriguing writing depends on how far it travels.
Eli Feazell is a junior journalism student at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The post office. What are your thoughts? Tell Eli by tweeting it at @elifeaz.