Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is one of the strangest spinoffs in years. This reimagined version of the very first Final Fantasy game features fast-paced combat, a trippy story and a perpetually peeved protagonist. Between its good-enough gameplay and its oddball narrative, Stranger of Paradise isn’t exactly a must-play. And yet, if you want to see the well-worn Final Fantasy series try something radically different, it’s well worth a look.
Because it’s from the same studio that brought you the ultra-tough Nioh series, Stranger of Paradise packs plenty of challenge into its 20-to-30-hour runtime. If you find yourself stuck, or you simply want to get a better handle on some of the game’s complexities, check out these 10 tips that will surely help you kill Chaos.
Charge full speed ahead
Some players have called Stranger of Paradise a “Soulslike,” and I’m not exactly sure why. Unlike From Software's Soulsborne games, Stranger of Paradise doesn’t have a precise, methodical combat system, deep character customization or harsh punishments for dying. Actually, dying in Stranger of Paradise is nearly consequence-free, since the game kicks you back to your most recent save point with all of your levels and gear intact. As such, you don’t have to fear what’s around every corner; you can just plow ahead and hope for the best. You’ll die a few times en route, sure, but that’s just an opportunity to grab even more levels and gear along the way.
Don’t hoard your potions
If you approach Stranger of Paradise like a Dark Souls game, you’re bound to have a difficult time. Consider your healing potions, for example. It’s true that you start off with a limited amount of them, and replenish them at save points, just as in Dark Souls. However, plenty of enemies also drop potions, and you can carry up to nine of them. While there’s no reliable way to get potions once you’re out in the field, enemies drop them fairly often. If you take a few hits, feel free to heal, even if you’re almost out of supplies. The next potion is probably just a fight or two away.
Let your party members pull their weight
Like most Final Fantasy games, Stranger of Paradise gives you a bunch of party members to choose from. Before the game is done, four distinct characters will join protagonist Jack on his quest. While they can’t switch jobs as easily as he can, they’re more than competent otherwise. They can dish out damage; they can launch special attacks; they can even heal themselves when they’re low on health. You can also periodically command them to fight more aggressively. If you’re finding a fight tough and need to back out for a bit, just let your party members do the work while you heal up. They’ll be fine without you.
Change equipment frequently
You don’t gain levels in Stranger of Paradise the same way that you would in a traditional Final Fantasy game. Defeating enemies gives you experience toward your chosen job (Warrior, Black Mage, Dragoon, etc.), but these won’t make your character stronger overall. Instead, you’ll increase your character level by finding and equipping better gear. As such, you’ll want to swap out gear frequently, especially if you’ve just started a new stage and find yourself under-leveled. You can equip new gear at any time in Battle Settings, but I find it’s a little easier to do so at save points, since enemies won’t be hounding you.
Finish every side mission
Final Fantasy games often give you a plethora of side quests to complete, but you don’t really have to bother with them unless you want to. That’s not necessarily the case in Stranger of Paradise, where the level requirements for each plot mission increase exponentially. After you finish a plot mission, you’ll generally unlock both another plot mission, and a side mission to go along with it. Finishing the side mission first is an incredibly good idea, since you’ll get much better gear and continue to build your job levels. Side missions are also generally shorter and simpler than plot missions, so they shouldn’t delay you for too long.
Don’t forget about Lightbringer
If you’re having trouble with a particular fight, Lightbringer might be the answer to your woes. Stranger of Paradise introduces this ability right at the beginning of the game, but doesn’t do a great job at explaining what it does. Essentially, it makes your attacks deal more Break damage for a short time, which is extremely helpful if you’re dealing with a large enemy that doesn’t stagger easily. It’s also good for dealing with groups, since it functionally lets you dispatch individual foes faster. While Lightbringer isn’t right for every situation, and costs an awful lot of MP, it’s worth trying if you’ve exhausted your other options.
Equip two contrasting jobs
All told, Stranger of Paradise has 27 different jobs, and if you’re playing right, you’ll want to master them all before the game is done. You can equip two jobs at any given time, and switch between them at will. While there are no “best” jobs in the game, it’s generally a good idea to equip two jobs that have different playstyles and weapon requirements. For example: Equipping both Warrior and Knight doesn’t give you much versatility, since they’re both straightforward melee classes. Equipping Warrior and Black Mage, on the other hand, means you’ll be prepared to fight a much wider variety of enemies.
Hunt for optional treasure
Almost every level in Stranger of Paradise has optional paths to explore, which house tough enemies and valuable treasure chests. Foes such as Tonberries and Cactuars are worth a ton of experience, and drop excellent gear. Treasure chests contain valuable equipment that’s often much rarer than what standard enemies drop. Generally speaking, if you see a path that doesn’t lead toward the next plot objective, you should explore it and see where it takes you. Likewise, if you see a treasure chest that looks impossible to reach, keep exploring until you find a way there. You may find something even better along the way.
Switch up your party members
While Jack can equip any job in the game, your party members aren’t nearly as versatile. Each party member has five different jobs, and they’ll master each one as they take part in battle. However, if you leave your party members on the back burner, they won’t earn any job experience at all. As such, it’s important to keep track of your party members’ job levels. When they max out their jobs, you should switch them out and let someone else take a turn on the frontlines. This means that you’ll always have access to a variety of different characters and classes.
Take boss fights slow
Regular fights in Stranger of Paradise are fast and furious, and you might be tempted to treat boss fights the same way. Resist this urge. Bosses in this game deal out tremendous damage, and if you try to soak it all up, you won’t have enough potions to last for the whole fight. Instead, approach bosses more methodically, and let your party members do a lot of the work. When a boss attacks, pay attention to the font color. You can block orange attacks, dodge red attacks and absorb purple attacks. You won’t have much time to react, though, so practice makes perfect.