Identity is such a broad, vague spectrum for any piece of media that can be defined by any number of traits depending on the analyzer. In the case of the upcoming Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, it’s arguably the most contentious facet. While it wields direct ties to the original Final Fantasy, its presentation and main character are at odds with what people expect from not only that specific entry but the franchise as a whole. That alone has earned it scrutiny to varying extents of justifiability. However, one remark I’ve been continually seeing is how the game should not take itself seriously, considering its implementation of certain songs from our world and other such elements.
Personally, I disagree with that notion. It is occasionally humorous to see a form of media poke fun at itself for laughs. Still, I don’t believe that mocking one’s identity should be a default behavior based on unconventional associations. One comparative example that immediately comes to mind is the Kingdom Hearts franchise, which is full of wild inclusions you don’t see in any other gaming series. The most prominent is Disney characters depicted alongside JRPG tropes like time travel. Of course, Kingdom Hearts has received much flack for being so wacky, with many wishing for it to simply be a massive joke in the confines of its own universe since it’s arduous for many to even fathom that sheer concept being taken seriously.
I shouldn’t have to spell out why this decision would be unfavorable. Between the loss of compelling tone and characterization, the most lamentable loss that would result from Kingdom Hearts treating itself as a joke would be it disrespecting its bold strides. Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin faces its own path of real-life obstacles of perception. Still, its latest trailer has given me faith in it believing in itself and not whimpering out to negative outcries.
Jack Garland playing “My Way” at the final trailer’s conclusion with genuine character movements shining during his walk throughout the wheat field told me that this game believes in what it is trying to accomplish. It’s not setting up a premise solely to jeer at the absurdity of its ideas. Instead, it’s creating a tale of strife bursting with moving emotionality at its core.
I’m fully expecting to laugh at several moments throughout the title. After all, absurdity is absurdity. But, absurdity should never equate to wrongness and, more importantly, contempt. Regardless of what bizarre directions Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin takes its unconventional narrative and cast, I’m thrilled to see it to the end. In a franchise so full of conventions and ideas that seem tied to their realms, Stranger of Paradise seems like a synthesis of the past and future, old and new, in bold methods that should be welcomed with open arms, not repressive ridicule.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is releasing for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC on March 18, 2022.
In case you missed it, check out our preview of the game’s most recent demo. A new trailer was released yesterday, alongside the announcement of soundtrack pre-orders.
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