Final Fantasy Origin is So Utterly Ridiculous, It’s Stunning

Final Fantasy Origin is So Utterly Ridiculous, It's Stunning

If you’ve caught wind of Stranger in Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, you’re probably aware of how utterly ridiculous this game is. From the regularly dressed dudes in a high fantasy world to the unhealthy obsession with killing Chaos, Stranger in Paradise is exactly what you think it is. That voice work, the dialogue, the nu-metal and Frank Sinatra, the magenta-Prompto? What you see is what you get.

See, what folks might not understand is that this is good. Before you walk away and mutter “bullshit” to the tune of your favorite Limp Bizkit song, please understand that  I mean this in earnest. Stranger in Paradise is a sight to behold because of how genuine it is about leaning into it’s absolutely bizarre nature. You can almost liken it to a Fast and Furious movie where it’s just plain dumb fun.

Let’s breakdown one of the first impressions you get from this game. Our stone-faced protagonist, Jack, has a dark crystal — well, it’s more like an egg. As he approaches some kingdom’s entrance, his soon-to-be bros Jed and Ash suspiciously walk up behind him. Jack senses something amiss and turns around in an alerted state. They all pause for a moment. Jed and Ash smirk and grunt to each other, and pull out their dark crystal eggs. “The crystals can sense each other,” Jed says, to which Ash follows up, “You have one too, don’t you?” The camera dramatically pans as Jack pulls out his own dark crystal egg and replies, “My mission is to kill Chaos. That’s all I know.” They all fist bump. Thus begins an unbreakable bond.

Part of me thought for a moment, “Oh, this is just the demo, it’s probably skipping important context.” But no, this is legitimately how they meet. Just bros being dudes. Is there any context for this? No. Should there be context? No. It’s better this way. You have to see it to believe it:

all of square enix’s sins forgiven for this one https://t.co/xCj0Znc9uz

— Asian 47 (@michaelphigham) March 11, 2022

Then these dudes pull up to the throne room of the King of Cornelia, the aptly named ruler of the bustling kingdom of Cornelia, still rocking fits thrown together from the 40%-off rack at H&M (thanks to my old boss and good friend Tamoor Hussain for this one). The King, in all his fancy royal garb, ponders the implications of Chaos and its danger. And the bros are standing there, looking like they just hopped out of bed hungover as shit after a wild night out the day before. They recall the prophecies of the four Warriors of Light, and declare their mission to kill Chaos.

Jack’s presence screams, “I got into a bar fight last night and nearly got my shirt torn and I’m still pissed about it.” He has yet to shower or have a change of clothes, and I’m sure he’ll tell you his Henley (with too many buttons downward) still works so it’s fine. Magenta-Prompto has a relaxed modern look with tapered joggers, a deep-cut crew neck long sleeve, and the really nice hair of an ex-scene kid. Ash looks like he had Jack’s back from day one (which was the day before) and has very little time for nonsense — the tanktop is intimidating but the flannel tied around the waist shows he means business. Don’t mind the cumulative $50 H&M budget, Chaos don’t want this smoke.

It’s rather funny that everyone is still in their street clothes upon entering the first dungeon — looks like they took a wrong turn to get to the Denny’s and ended up in the Chaos Shrine, whoops! (Un)fortunately, you quickly start gearing up as you fight and loot enemies throughout. I hope we get some kind of cosmetic system, a la Final Fantasy XIV‘s glamour, where I can still equip level 99 Chaos Chainmail of Cornelia Magicka (I made that up) but still sport my favorite asymmetrical button-down. I imagine there will be some wild possibilities with gear and I can’t wait to see that in dead serious cutscenes throughout.

At the end of the Chaos Shrine, you fight a form of Chaos incarnate; an imposing armor-clad knight who hits as hard as a Souls boss. After the tough battle, the Chaos-imbued warrior dissipates and out pops Neon — a young girl in some kind of schoolgirl’s dress and also in possession of a dark crystal egg. After realizing they all have dark crystal eggs, she makes an impassioned speech about her quest to kill Chaos as well, but surmises that Chaos isn’t a man or a monster. Rather, it’s a concept. Jack pauses a moment, then exclaims, “Bullshit.” He pulls out his phone to play that Limp Bizkit tune for like five seconds as he walks away.

Neon isn’t done with them, though. In next scene, she makes her case again and turns the tables on Jack, saying that if Chaos truly is what Jack believes it is, he’d have to prove it to her. He replies, “Deal.” All four of them fist bump. Now it’s a party.

“When darkness veils the world, four Warriors of Light shall come.” Let’s fucking go!!

Regardless of where Stranger in Paradise goes throughout its story, one thing’s for sure: they better treat Neon well. Final Fantasy hasn’t been the best about portraying its female characters in recent years. (And its best example, Final Fantasy XIII, doesn’t get as much respect as it deserves.) I’m glad that the dumb silly attitude of this game extends to her, because this isn’t just about guys being dudes anymore!

I kinda love that we have something like FFXIV: Endwalker, a beautiful expansion to my favorite game of all time — elegant, profound, heartwrenching, heartwarming, and earnest in its storytelling, thoughtfully crafted over a decade. And a few months later within the same franchise we have Stranger in Paradise starring Jack Chaos and the crystal squad in what plays out like an extremely underexplained isekai (hate to say it’s not isekai). What an incredible franchise. We truly can have it all.

I legitimately admire the commitment and execution of this direction so far. We’ll see if the novelty wears off the deeper it goes. But that’s the thing about Stranger in Paradise, it seems like the game is really going for it, for better or worse. It makes for a distinct personality that’s unlike anything we’ve seen in Final Fantasy, and maybe any recent games. This game cuts to the chase and isn’t concerned with exposition or overexplaining things — and it’s definitely for the best. Whether or not you vibe with it is a whole other discussion.

I physically laughed out loud four times during the demo, it’s so dumb, and I am all in on it. Many others will see the first 10 minutes of this game and ask. “…why?” Maybe some folks will do both. I can’t be the judge of whether the so-bad-it’s-good cutscenes are intentional or a matter of simply not giving a fuck. But I can say it’s goofy as hell and a fun time. You can see for yourself since the free demo for PlayStation and Xbox is out there. Just know I’m deadass gonna play through this whole thing. Until then, I leave you with this:

“I was hoping you’d say that!” pic.twitter.com/fk9mxXLZql

— Asian 47 (@michaelphigham) March 11, 2022

Author: Deann Hawkins