Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin is an interesting spin-off to say the least. Set before the events of the original Final Fantasy released in 1987, Stranger of Paradise ditches the turn based combat for a hack ‘n’ slash action RPG style. It does however, keep a lot of that Final Fantasy quirkiness seen in more modern entries of the franchise, such as stagger bars, MP management and job types.
With all that in mind, here are some top tips and tricks to ensure you can fulfil your duty as a Warrior of Light, and take Chaos down to pain town.
Focus on Depleting Break Gauges and using Soul Burst
All enemies and bosses have two bars. One is their health, which when depleted to 0, means the enemy is defeated. The second is the Break Gauge, which when depleted, staggers enemies and leaves them open to not only critical damage, but also Soul Bursts. Enemies remain harmless while their gauge recovers. Soul Bursts will execute your foes and reward you and your party members with more maximum MP. If multiple enemies are staggered together, Soul Bursting one will execute them all within a small area.
Staggering is doubly important for bosses, which when Soul Burst after being staggered, will transition them to their next phase regardless of HP, or even finish the fight entirely!
Jobs that are able to use heavier weapons such as Marauder, Dark Knight, Warrior and Breaker will deal more stagger damage through their weapon combos and abilities. Couple this with the Lightbringer ability and you’ll be flooring even the mightiest of foes.
Level Up and Switch Jobs Regularly
It’s worth noting that you too have a Break Gauge that gets depleted whenever you block or Soul Shield. Like enemies, if your Break Gauge gets completely depleted, you too are stunned for a time, and will take critical damage that will likely end in your death. You can swap between your equipped jobs to recover it, or to avoid getting staggered. As each Job has its own gauge independent of one another.
Job affinity is also earnt fairly quickly in Stranger of Paradise, even passively. This means you can usually get another skill or two every time you progress to a new checkpoint. Once you have levelled up enough to unlock the next job tree, or gotten that useful ability you need, you should swap off to another job. Even if you don’t plan on using it much. A lot of Job skills can be multi-classed, so getting as many as you can to add to your arsenal will help in the long term.
Your party members will have less Job diversity than Jack. They usually cap out pretty quickly so should also be swapped over.
Check and Optimise Your Equipment
The equipment screen in Stranger of Paradise has a handy ‘optimise’ button. This will automatically equip Jack and his party with the highest level equipment in your inventory. What it doesn’t do however, is take Job affinity or Job stats into account. This can unfortunately lead to a magic based Job being kitted out in physical and strength based armour.
Most gear has increased Job affinity tied to it, helping you level it faster. Certain rarity weapons sometimes come with abilities that you might not have yet, and are useful to keep on.
When optimising your gear, I recommend using the optimise button, then double checking what it has changed. Just in case there is a piece of gear 1 level below that is statistically still more optimal. Of course, you can use any gear on any job. But if you find yourself struggling or lacking in power on certain jobs, this is a good place to check if Jack is at his best.
Use the Power of Friendship
You’re not alone in this Jack! If you’re taking a beating and need a distraction to get a heal spell or two off, make sure you ‘activate’ your party members. The party AI is pretty good in Stranger of Paradise, but they don’t use any abilities unless told to do so. Calling out to them for assistance will usually cause them to leap into action for a time, based on their max MP. While in this state they will also finish off enemies with Soul Burst. This aggressiveness should let you slip away for a few seconds to recover if needed.
It’s a great way to get some extra damage or support out when in a pinch, or if you want to clear a group of enemies more efficiently and honestly, the game could do better at communicating when your friends are ready to fight for you. Remember to use it lots!
Equip Contrasting Jobs
With 27 base game Jobs to unlock and use for Jack, its important to use two contrasting ones. Usually a magic based job and a physical based one. Alternatively a tanky, defensive job vs a high damage, more fragile job. Having too similar jobs will not only make the gameplay more stale, it will also remove a lot of advantages such as being able to deal elemental magic damage, healing and buffing while also having a physical damage dealer.
Personally for my playthrough I used the immense stagger power of a Warrior/Breaker with an axe, and a Sage focused on passive buffing and healing. Sage is probably the best magic job, as it has access to both damaging and supportive magic.
While Stranger of Paradise maybe isn’t as hard as some of the Dark Souls comparisons would have you believe, it still has its challenges to overcome and sometimes, certain things aren’t explained all too well. With these top tips in mind though, you’re well on your way to fulfil your desire to kill Chaos!