Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an unconventional sort of Final Fantasy spin-off, albeit one with familiar characters, jobs, and trappings. Moreover, it’s an action game coming with input from Team Ninja, who created the Nioh series. To help better understand how it came to be and works, Siliconera spoke with Director Daisuke Inoue and Producer Jin Fujiwara about the title.
Jenni Lada: How did Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin come to be? What did the pitch look like and how did Team Ninja get involved?
Jin Fujiwara: First, the idea was conceived by Tetsuya Nomura when he was discussing about how he wants the story that depicts how the villain in the Final Fantasy series Garland came about. He also wanted a game that is heavily skewed toward action gameplay where you are adventuring through different locations or dungeons. So those ideas were being proposed.
We have had a relationship with Koei Tecmo’s Team Ninja when we worked on Dissidia Final Fantasy. So when we were thinking about, “Yeah, we’d love to make an action game. Who should we turn to?” Because we really wanted this to be a good action game. We approached Team Ninja. We felt that they’d be the best fit. That’s why we decided to partner with them.
While Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins is of course pulling from Final Fantasy, how much did Nioh and its sequel influenced it? How did it and its sequel prepare the developers for this?
Daisuke Inoue: Of course the project proceeding, we had directors from the Square Enix side, plus the Koei Tecmo team ninja side come together and discuss what we wanted to do. There were certain elements that I had in mind, coming from a Final Fantasy background. There were different things that I wanted to bring to the table. Then of course Team Ninja would [offer] feedback like, “We would also like to include such and such elements.” It was just a very nice collaborative sort of environment where we discussed with each other and made sure what we’re trying to bring out what we do best in each other’s sides.
In the original Final Fantasy, people had six starter job and six advance classes. Early screenshots already showed additional jobs like Duelist, Marauder, and Ronin. How did past entries influence and shape the jobs available in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin? Are there any jobs that are completely new to the series?
Inoue: For sure, we will be introducing some jobs that are not usually found in the Final Fantasy series. So you may be surprised. Like, “Oh, is that the weapon that this person is going to use?”
Is there a job that you wanted to include in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, but it didn’t end up fitting in somehow or due to some technical issue?
Inoue: Yeah, for sure. There are lots of ideas that came up that we had to unfortunately scrap. There were so many conditions we had to fulfill. Some of it didn’t work out. I’m sure you want to get an idea of what exactly those jobs were. Let me see if I can think of an example.
There was one job that was very relevant to the protagonist characters, but we had to give up on implementing that due to certain reasons.
How is the team handling job balancing in Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins, and are there any characters better suited for certain roles than others?
Inoue: So in terms of job balance, the job categories are separated into three different categories. You have your sort of basic, or starter, jobs. Then you get into the advanced and then further advanced. There are three tiers. Now, just hearing the name may make you think that, “Oh, it gets stronger as you get more advanced.” But that’s not accurate. It’s that some of the higher tier jobs are what’s considered to be higher tier. It’s just more complex in terms of how they move. I think some of them are more unique or edgy almost. They are categorized, but then in terms of strength, we tried to make it so they’re all equal. So that’s how we balanced the jobs.
As for the different content that the players engage in, I think what job is suitable really depends on how the player wants to play the specific content. So if you’re more comfortable with doing ranged attacks, you might want to choose a job that is more skilled with long-range attacks. Or if you want to do something that’s more close-range attacks, there are jobs for that. Or if you want to still be melee, but not near distance, there’s a sort of “back row” melee type job as well. So I think it really depends on how the player wants to go about tackling some of the content.
I don’t think there are any sort of specific jobs that are especially suited for certain roles and content.
How much freedom was the team given when altering and developing the characters, jobs, and story for Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin? Was there any one character who was especially fun to re-envision and remake?
Inoue: With characters that didn’t appear in the original Final Fantasy, we definitely had the creative liberty to take different approaches for sure. And then for the characters that do exist in the lore, we did have to kind of have to put in our reinterpretation of them. In creating these characters and reading the script as it would become available, what struck me as very interesting was the character of Astos.
Fujiwara: It’s very interesting to see [Astos] and how, as the story progressed, this character is being interpreted.
People have had a very interesting response to the game so far online, like when they saw Jack’s clothing for the first time and things like that. We’ve already seen the development team kind of have fun with that by going ahead and having the one segment where there was the Limp Bizkit music in the trailer. Are there any kinds of callbacks like that in the game proper that people can expect to see in response to feedback?
Fujiwara: I think the way that some of these elements were presented in the information that we revealed were surprising and very unusual to people watching it. They are excerpts from the story proper and final product. It will start to make sense that Jack and some of the other characters have means to access things that we may think is more modern and that’s closer to real life. I don’t think we’ll have elements where people will be severely surprised? There are some random things that pop up in the story.
But at the same time, with the narrative itself we’re trying to make it so there are twists that people will be surprised by. So in a good way, will sort of betray their expectations. We’re hopeful that people will come across those and we hope that they enjoy those twists.
Are we going to end up seeing some of the characters from Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin in Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia? And would that also eventually mean a story with Jack meeting Garland?
Fujiwara: So you happen to be speaking with the producer [Fujiwara] and director [Inoue] of Opera Omnia. Yeah, the possibility is definitely there. We would love to have Jack and the other characters show up in Opera Omnia from Final Fantasy Origin. And I’m sure players will be excited to see how this sort of face-to-face between Garland and Jack would happen. Or if that’s even possible. I want to say that the possibility is definitely there. I’m afraid I can’t guarantee when it’s going to be, but we’re hopeful that it’s going to be in the near future.
So like maybe even a global first, since that sometimes happens?
Fujiwara: We’ll think about it.
Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin will come to the PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022. People who pre-order a digital copy will get early access on March 15, 2022.
Editor’s Note: This interview was lightly edited for clarity.