When the Stranger of Paradise trailer played in the Square Enix Present E3 showcase earlier this week, the internet collectively laughed. It’s an ugly-looking game, with dull-looking and sounding white-dude-bro characters, and they mentioned “Chaos” to the point it’s become a meme of its own. To make matters worse, the demo that was supposed to go live straight after the conference was broken and wouldn’t play for anyone for over 24-hours as either Team Ninja or someone at Square Enix worked to make it playable. Well, it’s finally working, and I’ve played through to the boss, and I can safely say it’s a mixed bag.
Stranger of Paradise is an action RPG in the vein of Nioh or Sekiro combined with a job system from the Final Fantasy universe. Enemies have a stamina bar that depletes as you consistently attack them, opening them up to a finishing attack, or you can bring their HP to zero. You have a block button, a basic attack and a special that uses mana and an energy shield. Suppose you parry an enemies basic attack with the energy shield. In that case, you’ll knock them back, opening them up to a counter-attack while also gaining some MP and increasing your overall MP gauge (it resets to your default level when you rest at checkpoints). If you parry an enemies spell, like a basic fire attack, you’ll hold one charge of that spell and be able to cast it back for free.