February and March of 2022 have had a slew of amazing and high-profile games, so I wouldn’t be surprised if multiple games flew under people’s radars (looking at you . Hack GU on Switch). That said, something as big as a Final Fantasy game from Team Ninja – the minds behind Ninja Gaiden/Nioh – you would expect more fanfare. But for different reasons (most likely a CHAOS-filled first trailer that stupefied gamers,) it doesn’t seem many have talked about this wonderful team-up. Luckily, during Wednesday’s Playstation State of Play, a demo for Final Fantasy Origins: Stranger of Paradise (SoP hereafter) dropped. To most, it was a surprise, but for me, someone who has lived and breathed this game since the original announcement, you knew it was coming.
This final demo dropped a week before the early digital release, meaning we can base our judgment on if you want it or not by playing this before purchase. Even better, your demo progress transfers over. Between putting hours into the demo and enjoying the hell out of it, I wanted to make a list to help you know what you are getting into. But, and this is a huge but (think Aunt Fanny from Robots), the SoP Demo is a demo build and very well could be an older build than what we get on March 15/18th. Team Ninja released multiple Beta/Alpha/Demos in the past that they improved upon before the game’s release. With that in mind, a lot of these notes may/hopefully change as, at times, it feels like an older build.
Time spent on Demo is on the PS5 with a 4K Monitor with most gameplay on Performance mode, unless said otherwise.
- You can pause the game and cutscenes, as long as you aren’t playing co-op. – Might not seem like much, but in 2022 this should be the norm
- You can change the controls to your liking. – This should also be more common and, in most cases, is.
- Ps5 loads fast! – Great when dying on a boss a lot.
- Uses the touchpad for interacting with picking up items, opening up doors, and resting at a save cube which frees up other buttons.
- Has multiple different difficulties for fans just wanting the story, or more challenging gameplay.
- There is an option called “Battle Sets” where you can customize and quickly pick a set that you saved that includes your selected AI, jobs and equipment. Making it easier for you to save your favorites and go back to it later.
- Combos, and how they feel very Final Fantasy-Esque like FFRV Active Battle System adding to the combos and a mix of Nioh.
- A single button to quickly change character job between two different ones.
- The magic system is unique and has a great risk factor to it.
- There are so many options to change your playstyle with over 20 Jobs (not all on demo), with them all feeling different, making you want to master them.
- The equipment system has a lot of options and information and works really well.
- Deaths load quick, so no need to get annoyed and have to wait.
- The few bosses shown are fun and, when played on Hard, aren’t too challenging as long as you remember weaknesses.
- Some levels have cool designs, and others are inspired by past Final Fantasy games with remixed songs from said games.
- When the Frames are steady, the gameplay is buttery smooth.
- Jack may be one of the funniest main characters in a while, and his attitude is a sight to behold with him constantly not caring and just wanting to kill CHAOS.
- Surprisingly the AI is actually helpful!
- Co-op is easy to start in the middle of a level and helps a lot if you’re stuck. Co-op doesn’t seem like a side idea as everyone shares gear, and when you beat a level for someone else, it beats said level in your game.
- FPS (Frames Per Second) takes hits at times and gets sluggish. This only occurred a few times, but when it happens, it’s bad.
- Some players have contacted the developers saying that when doing online co-op, they get stuck on a loading screen and have to restart the game.
- Some cutscenes look atrocious with what seems like bad Anti-Aliasing, or none at all. This is especially bad with a lot of the hair.
- Some cutscenes have horrible stutters and, at one point, gave me a headache making me stop.
- During gameplay, it seems like resolution can take a hit, and when it does, the game can get real ugly and hard to look at.
- During a few cutscenes, the characters’ models looked horrid. Their faces are misshapen or claylike. Other models’ lips don’t match what they’re saying, making it look like bad lip-matching or desync of audio.
- At some points in the gameplay, the background has weird pixelation happening.
- Too many useless items, making going through them a hassle and using auto equip the norm. There is a setting to turn off auto pickup on certain item types, but these only seem to work with certain items rarities and not all. Now, this isn’t that bad, but just something to think of if too many items bother you.
- There honestly isn’t much of a difference visually between Performance mode and Resolution mode. However, Resolution mode felt like it took more hits to its FPS than Performance.
Things I’d like to see:
- Instead of going through two menus to get to the equipment, the menu there should be a press and hold option.
- The talk section should be completely changed, or at least show you if you haven’t talked to the character yet. As of now, it just feels awkward and completely unneeded.
- Will there be refashioning like in Nioh? That is the ability to keep attributes but change the gear’s appearance. Not a big deal, but it could add a lot.
- Magic is fun and unique, but there should be a way to change it quickly.
- Missions should have an icon or some ability to see what difficulty you previously beat it on.
- I wish there were more “chat” options for co-op.
- Give different gear if you beat missions on different difficulties.
- Soul burst is an awesome ability, same with Soul Shield. A lot of the gameplay aspects are great, and when they click in your brain, the game becomes increasingly fun. It’s been hard to just stop playing.
- So many abilities that the builds are going to get crazy and fun.
- Although the plot has been a weird point for many, a lot of it still seems steeped in mystery, and the team is really leaning into the wacky, campy, bizarre, and sometimes cringy story/dialogue. Plus, it seems we start on a time loop, but, as of now, who knows.
- There were so many grunts during the dialogue that, at one point, I wanted to keep track of the count.
- At Least for me, hard isn’t that hard. It only gets unbearable when you get attacked by multiple enemies.
- Mp feels like a distant cousin of the active battle system from Final Fantasy, especially FFRV, and feels uniquely fun.
- Soul Shield is great and satisfying when you get good at it, plus it feels like the Nioh Ki Pulse and the Sekiro Parry system and has so many benefits, but can easily cripple you if misused.
- As much as people are comparing it to Nioh, it really doesn’t feel like that. More of a boiling point with many different inspirations cooked together into something fun, addictive, and unique.
Yes, I took a lot of notes! SoP has been on my mind since it was announced, and it’s been hard to enjoy other games when it’s all I think about. After playing the 2nd Trial (I didn’t have a PS5 for the 1st Trial,) I was instantly hooked on the gameplay, plus I love the story even though many have called it “cringe” and the like. As seen in the Pros/Cons, you see a lot of the problems stem from the visuals, not gameplay. Thus far, SoP’s gameplay might be one of the most addictive out there, with a fun mix of FFRV, Nioh Series, Ninja Gaiden, and other Stamna Based Action games. To say I’m insanely excited for SoP is an understatement, and I think others should really give this demo a chance.