Amid all of the silly Chaos memes, I delved pretty deeply into Stranger of Paradise last week and found a lot to like. Sure it’s an early build but I really enjoyed the class system and the Team Ninja action vibe, and I hope they shore up some of those shortcomings and really make something special whenever it comes out. This Nomura interview from Famitsu gives me hope, though it has plenty of Nomura’s classic cryptic language that might turn some of you off.
Nomura kicks off the interview by explaining that Final Fantasy 1 is a “motif,” instead of “being directly connected or an equivalent.” The way he explains the theme behind using the phrase “paradise” and “strangers” is similarly confusing, in a “you probably won’t see what he’s going for until the end” sort of deal. He also has a reason for why the protagonist and his crew look like regular guys: “The initial outfits for Jack and his allies are nothing more than a hint to show that they’re not of that world. They don’t represent anything about their character. Like other games where you can change your equipment, this is simply their plain state. Perhaps.”
Haha, classic Nomura! Interestingly, he gives us a clue here: “Jack and his allies have the mission to defeat Chaos, but we needed them to be characters that people would think of as totally separate to the Warriors of Light.” He goes on to tease: “The reasoning behind Jack’s appearance is purely related to the story. Likewise, there’s meaning behind all of their names. But that would be a spoiler, so I’ll save that for another time.” For reference, the names are Jack, Ash, and Jed. Maybe they’re all summons, and Ash is Phoenix? It’s just wacky enough to work.
Nomura says there will be “more” party members, and that “during combat, you’ll fight with a party of three members, so you’ll be swapping people around for battle.” He also addresses the dark tone head-on, stating: “Unlike other games in the Final Fantasy series, it has quite a high rating (17+ in Japan), so it’s a rather severe kind of atmosphere. The game is the story of an angry man, so we’ve represented those dark, blackened emotions as well.” “The game is the story of an angry man,” needs to be on a t-shirt.
Promisingly, Nomura really wants to focus in on the story here despite it being an action game at the core, claiming the narrative has “plenty of depth.” He also wants the game to be accessible to a degree, with a “less punishing” death system, and a more forgiving dodge, guard, and soul shield window so everyone can reasonably compete, not just frame-perfect action fans. Nomura is open to allowing you to command your allies too, but at the very least “customization of growth and equipment” (which is not in the demo) is planned. Turning Jed into a thief and Ash into a Monk are hinted, and eight weapon types are confirmed (one-handed sword, axe, knuckles, daggers, and katanas are not in the demo).
There’s definitely more to Stranger of Paradise than meets the eye, and the gigantic interview is worth reading if you’re remotely interested. Whether that mystery box stuff is up your alley or not is completely up to you. But I’m looking forward to playing through and potentially gasping at some crazy story revelation; while some of you watch it on YouTube and laugh in turn.