Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin isn’t a remake, nor is it a prequel to the original Final Fantasy, which celebrates its 35th anniversary later this year. Instead, the upcoming action-heavy Final Fantasy spinoff is something of an interpretation of the classic role-playing game’s time-looping story.
A new (and final) trailer for the game, featuring the music of Frank Sinatra, hints at its emotional, tragic stakes.
Players will experience that story from the perspective of Jack and his allies, believing themselves to be prophetic Warriors of Light, infamously on a mission to kill Chaos, the final boss of the original Final Fantasy. There’s much about Jack and his fellow wannabe Warriors of Light that remains a mystery going into Stranger of Paradise. And a new trailer for the upcoming game, due in March, adds more mystery — or possibly some new hints about how Jack and company’s mission to kill Chaos will turn out.
The developers of Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin have already essentially spoiled one component of their game: Jack is Jack Garland, aka Garland, aka the other big bad guy from Final Fantasy who created that game’s 2,000-year time loop and ultimately transforms into Chaos. Jack’s allies may also represent the famous fiends that players faced in Final Fantasy and will face in Stranger of Paradise, and the latter game’s new trailer shows three of them — Kraken, Lich, and Marilith — in action. The fourth, Tiamat, was previously revealed.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin producer Jin Fujiwara told Polygon in an interview that familiarity with the events of Final Fantasy will certainly offer context for Jack’s violent journey through the land of Cornelia, but are not a prerequisite for enjoying its story.
“The game is created so that you don’t have to necessarily be familiar with the original first Final Fantasy,” Fujiwara said through an interpreter. “If you do have an understanding of the original title, it might help kind of expand the lore that you’re familiar with. We have our heroes, who believe that they are the Warriors of Light, but they actually turn out to be like the enemy, Garland. When you’re fighting the four different [fiends], how they came about is going to be depicted in Stranger of Paradise, so I think it’s not necessary but it does allow for a deeper experience into the game.”
Given Jack Garland’s turn as ostensible protagonist into the antagonist Garland, I asked Fujiwara why the team decided to reveal his fate so early — and whether Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin is a tragedy.
“With our introduction of the title […] we showed that, for a Warrior of Light, [Jack] seemed a lot more violent than your typical hero,” Fujiwara said. “The team thought rather than having it suspended up in the air — with players kind of speculating ‘Wait, this is a lot more violent than we’d expected. This hero character seems to be a lot older and more mature compared to your typical Final Fantasy protagonist.’ — rather than misleading people, the team felt that it would be better if we were more transparent about what the story was going to be about. That’s why we decided that we wanted to reveal this as a story about the villain, but that there is a rich story behind it that we want to show. I felt that that would allow for us to communicate to our players a lot more clearly.”
Fujiwara continued: “I don’t think we can summarize it in one phrase, [to say] if it’s a tragedy. It’s not necessarily just a sad story. It’s very difficult to put our finger on it. But it does depict the story of these protagonists going into the narrative believing that they are Warriors of Light, but they end up becoming villains.
“There is a reason behind all the events that happen. So, again, while it’s not entirely a tragedy, we do want to have that sense of this being a Final Fantasy title. So we want to have that sense of hope in there as well. It is very difficult to describe it in very few words. So we would love to encourage players to try the story out and find out for themselves.”
A new trailer for Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, released Monday and partially set to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” certainly hints at tragedy. It teases memories forgotten and loves lost, how Jack’s consuming rage will lead to regret, and the ultimate fate of the hopeful Warriors of Light. Fujiwara said that the choice to use Sinatra’s sweeping signature song, later famously covered by Elvis Presley and Sid Vicious, was illustrative of Jack’s journey.
“The story is going to be depicting Jack and how he lived and the choices he made throughout his life,” Fujiwara explained. “And so the fact that he is sort of living his life and making the choices that he is confident and he is not going to regret we felt really matched with the lyrics of ‘My Way’ so we wanted to incorporate that song [in the trailer].”
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin will be released March 18, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC (via the Epic Games Store), Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.