Team Ninja back with a Nioh clone

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Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin (SOPFFO for short) is a new spin off of Square Enix’s famous J-Rpg series! It will be available on March 18 in all good dairies and on all current machines, except for the Switch. We, it was on PS5 that we walked the corridors of this game “à la Dark Souls” under the Final Fantasy license… Story.

You have to be crazy to come and face the master From Software and his Elden Ring with a relatively similar game whose release is barely a month away. Yet this is what attempts Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin on March 18, 2022. That is to say that the challenge is daunting. A certain Babylon’s Fall, for example, is breaking his teeth there…
But the game has arguments in its pocket: Already, it is developed by Team Ninja and will take over the general structure of the gameplay of Nioh, a clone of the Dark Souls saga, probably the best. Then, sorry, this gameplay will be adapted with a Final Fantasy skin. Will this be enough against the master? Nothing is less sure !


Final Fantasy Remake?

However, this will already be Team Ninja’s third foray into the ultra-demanding action RPG game after the two Niohs. And also, the second Final Fantasy to be credited to the studio after Dissidia NT. If development is credited to Team Ninja and publishing to Square for this Stranger of Paradise, make no mistake: the loudest names in the industry are to be put on the Square side! Are the Team Ninja pundits on Nioh 3, Dead or Alive 7 or Ninja Gaiden 4? Only the future will tell.

The adventure begins with the kidnapping of a princess by Chaos, and the arrival at the castle of 4 warriors, all of whom have a stone of light… The scenario is a vibrant tribute to that of Final Fantasy 1, from which it takes up the plot going its own way, much like Star Wars Episode 7 does with Episode 4, but this time in prequel form. The Final Fantasy fan service is omnipresent, fans will be thrilled with a familiar design by Tetsuya Nomura, Neon, the female heroine, will ensure a bit of the Team Ninja side with a schoolgirl skirt that is way too short! The music is quite varied, ranging from electro to much more sedate, even melancholic piano compositions, and if the texts are in French, the voices are entirely in Japanese or English. In its narration, everything has of course a slightly classic side specific to the Square saga, and will be quite verbose for a game of its kind, since many rather long cutscenes will punctuate your progress throughout the game. adventure! This universe will be quite divisive, since if it pleases the fans, a hardcore action RPG fan passing through could find fault with it…


Far from technical paradise

If the design is therefore rather convincing, the same cannot be said for the technique: Clearly, even with a PS5 version, the game seems very dated, even if the faces of the characters are rather beautiful and successful. Out of cutscenes, or when they are made with the game engine, it stings the retina a little more and the polygons of the 3D models take a little bit of angulation, the depth of field becomes laughable and the aliasing legion. In combat, it’s a little better since the game remains very fluid. On a PS4 PRO, the picture is similar, but everything displayed on the screen becomes… much blurrier. Loads are relatively fast on both machines. On the other hand, it’s a good surprise, on PS5, haptic vibrations are present, as are force feedback triggers (for a disappointing result), but the dualsence speaker remains desperately silent. Finally, note that cross save functions are available and that you can go from a PS5 to a PS4 and vice versa with the same save, unlocking the trophies twice for free in the process. You will therefore have understood it, if there is indeed a point or Stranger of Paradise Elden Ring speaks eye to eye, it’s about his technique from another age!


Nioh of Paradise

With this SOPFFO, Square and Team Ninja are obviously surfing on the current fashion for “Souls-style” games. If you’ve ever played Nioh, you’re on familiar ground. The game is made up of levels, accessible on a world map, where you will also find secondary missions. No open world here but independent levels, which borrow their structure from Nioh, namely corridors and tortuous dungeons, with many secrets and traps, with many shortcuts to unlock regularly. The design of the levels is clearly inspired by that of the Dark Souls saga, and even, sometimes, BloodBorne! But their construction remains in the end a little basic and below what Nioh offered, even if some weather control mechanics in certain stages are fun…

On the program, about twenty main missions that can be completed in… about 20 hours for a novice who manages, or even much more if you have real difficulties. The PGM in search of challenges will find something to do with the multiple new game + more and more difficult specific to the genre, and the future DLC which should arrive via Season Pass.


Dark Drunk

Exploration level, there are also some mechanics specific to Souls, such as campfires which allow you to rest and pass levels, but make all the enemies reappear, an obscure tutorial system where you have to pick up objects on the ground to learn , And that’s about it. Here, you do not lose your experience! The more you perish against the same enemy, the stronger you come back! Overall, the game is much more accessible than a Souls, since three difficulty levels are in the game. And even if, we still tried, you can’t play with one hand on easy and you will still need a minimum of concentration (it’s not a Muso!). The experience remains very accessible for the neophyte who would just like to hit the monster in a game stamped Final Fantasy. For example, we don’t die if we fall and the two companions who constantly fight with us are a real plus! And icing on the cake, the online multiplayer mode allows you to call your friends to the rescue.


On the action side, you will therefore find the classic gauges of life and mana, but no endurance here. Instead, a Sekiro-like system (or rather, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order…) of a rupture gauge, to instantly kill any enemy who sees his broken. Be careful, it also works for you. But overall, it’s a feeling that is not necessarily very pleasant for those looking above all for an action game. The controls and the general feeling, despite the camera behind the hero, are more reminiscent of Hack’n’Slash than Beat’em’All. Generally, yours truly, when he plays an action game, mistreats his buttons by clicking at least ten times for a command that would have required only one press. Not of that here, and it was quickly necessary to get in step, the fault of hazardous movements and inputs with sometimes very clumsy timings, like a semi-trailer which tries a slot in a one-way street. It is heavy. However, some nice elements are part of the trip, such as an on-the-fly job change system (your hero can have two very different classes, but that). A system that is reminiscent of that of Nioh stanzas, where a defensive blow that absorbs enemy powers can be reused instantly, at the cost of timing that is not always obvious. Finally, the special attacks are very violent, even without hemoglobin!

RPG first and foremost?


If the action side is therefore quite complex but has the agility of a backhoe in a living room, what about the RPG components? We are in a Final Fantasy, after all! Well know that here, it’s quite convincing. Taking a bit of what was done on Code Vein, your hero can change classes and unlock new ones by advancing the different skill trees. There are about 30 different ones and you equip two of them. The joys of white Berserker-mage or Ninja-Samurai are yours! On the equipment side, you loot much more than in a Borderlands or a Diablo, that is to say! The gear is visible on the hero, and quite often the set equipped on the fly doesn’t look like much! The menus are overflowing with useless swords, and today, we find that less funny than in Nioh. Nevertheless, in terms of time spent reading the menus, if you like that, you will have plenty to do…
…as long as you have some time left if you are already on Elden Ring!

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