Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin will explore one of the most difficult subgenres of games, but there’s a perfect way to make it more palatable for hardcore and casual gamers alike.
The Soulslike genre has risen to prominence over the last decade thanks to critical acclaim and popularity of the Dark Souls series. These titles stand out because of their tough enemies, methodical combat, and minimalistic environmental storytelling.
While Final Fantasy titles are usually more traditional turn-based or action RPGs, Square Enix and Team Ninja are trying something quite different for Origin, which is a spin-off related to the very first Final Fantasy. Still, mirroring that classic means that Final Fantasy Origin will be quite difficult and possibly inaccessible for those that prefer turn-based RPGs to Soulslike.
To remedy this issue, Final Fantasy Origin should implement a feature from Hades, one of the best video games from 2020. The feature? God Mode.
Rather than intrinsically changing the game's design or making its protagonist outright invincible, Hades’ God Mode makes the player slightly more resistant to damage after every death.
Starting at a 20 percent reduction in incoming damage, players get 2 percent more resistant to damage after each death up to a max of 80 percent. It’s a subtle but potent adjustment that grows over time. It doesn’t change any story content, but it does mean that less-skilled players can still feel a satisfying growth in power as they invest time into the game.
Hades is a roguelike with a procedurally generated dungeon and little carry-over between repeated runs. It doesn’t share much DNA with a Soulslike, so the feature might seem out of place at first glance. But God Mode could work well in any Soulslike, Final Fantasy Origin included. Players will repeatedly die as they learn the environments and enemy spawns, so getting a small boost with each death is a smart way to ensure players still feel like they’re making meaningful progress even when they get killed.
Anecdotally, many gamers avoid Soulslikes because of how inaccessible they are. They are inherently designed to be very difficult, and there’s almost never anything that resembles adjustable difficulty modes. The Demon’s Souls remake developers even argued that it isn’t necessary because Soulslike are supposed to be tough but fair.
Final Fantasy Origins does seem to be taking its difficulty into account more than its genre peers. The demo that was available in June featured an Easy Mode that made enemies easier to fight and allowed players to block all incoming attacks.
Still, even that could be too tough for those not used to the Soulslike formula or those who struggle to block. Implementing something like Hades’ God Mode would still retain the game’s difficulty for those who enjoy it but would give more casual players a way to gain more and more of an advantage over time.
Final Fantasy Origin is already taking a step in the right direction with its Easy Mode. That said, if the developers are looking for any additional ways to make the spin-off more approachable to those who aren’t great at Soulslikes, then a variation of Hades’ God Mode seems worthy of consideration.
Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin will be released in 2022.