Push the limits (but why?)

This is the last post I’m going to write about Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. I promise. (Unless I see demand for more.)

I finally finished the game a couple of days ago. It isn’t an especially long video game, but it took nearly a full month to beat because a) it’s a very difficult game. Much more difficult than I would usually like. and b) I had to take a Kirby break for a week and change. It was a very pleasant break. I really needed that zero-stress time.

Anyways, Stranger of Paradise is done, but also, it is not. There is a massive amount of post-game content and unlockables now opened to me. Sadly, they are all generally quite pointless. You can now play on CHAOS difficulty, which lets you play harder missions to get better gear to play harder missions to get better gear, ad infinitum. Stranger of Paradise has now transitioned from a Dark Souls-alike to a Monster Hunter-esque. Unlike Monster Hunter, though, you are not engaging in endless repetition with the goal of huntering new monsters or the secret true final boss somewhere down the line. No, you’re just doing it for the sake of doing it. To my knowledge, there is no additional content in this post-game, just harder version of all the levels and monsters you’ve already battled your way through.

What makes it all the more tragic is that there are a couple nifty features tucked away in the post-game! Firstly, is the final job, which only unlocks after you defeat the final boss. I haven’t played around with it much yet, but I’ve read that it’s quite baller. Secondly, you can win items that release job level limits (they initially cap at 30), and from there you gain access to an incredibly granular system to further augment each job’s stats. Again, the problem is that the only reason to use this system is… to use this system. There’s no actual New Game+ to speak of, so you’re really just levelling up your jobs so that you can earn more items to level up your other jobs. “Numbers go up” is usually a good enough carrot-on-a-stick for me, but I like for those numbers to be dressed up a little, to make it seem like I’m doing something other than, well, making numbers go up.

The job mastery system is really cool, though. For each level you attain past 30, you’ve given a Master Point. These points can be allocated to like a billion different stats. The list starts with easy stuff like HP, strength, luck, what-have-you. Then you get a little deeper in and you can upgrade things like status ailment resistance, damage reduction at max MP, how much HP a soul burst restores, how much Break damage your special abilities do, so on and so forth. Prepare for a bad case of choice paralysis! As if this game wasn’t bad enough for that already!

I have one gripe specifically about this system, and that’s that it’s got some pretty hard limits. All the different stats are broken down into four or five groups, and you can only spend so many points in each group. On top of that, you’re only allowed to allocate so many points to each individual stat. “But why?“, I ask. Why not let me take all of my hard-earned points, and put them into status ailment resistance? Do you have any idea how many times I’ve been killed by poison in this stupid game? More than I can count! (Dragon Zombie!!!) So stop limiting me to a 5% resistance rate! On a more positive note, you can remove and reallocate all of your Master Points whenever you like, at absolutely no cost. I’ve always thought it was dumb when games make you pay to respec your character, so it’s a nice touch.

I’ve played a bit of this whole post-game business now, and while I do get a kick out of the idea of powering up enough to absolutely thrash the bosses what once caused me so many headaches, it still does seem a bit meaningless. I mean, I’ve already melted a few of the worst offenders with a lowly Lv.30 Sage’s Ultima spell, so why do I need to keep going? Presumably because a Lv.55 Ultima would nuke them even harder, and thus be almost doubly satisfying? I don’t know!

Anyway, aside from having a difficulty level that is way out of my league, I really enjoyed Stranger of Paradise. It was good, dumb fun, for sure. I don’t play many games of this style, so it was also a nice change of pace. If you have a strong desire to hear someone lavish praise on the game, I will leave you with the following embedded video. It’s a good watch!

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