Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Which Game Has the Best Combat?

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin versus Final Fantasy XVI

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Which Game Has the Best Combat?

Given the series origins and contribution to the tenets of classic turn-based JRPGs, it’s definitely an unexpected pivot for the Final Fantasy series to now embrace real-time action combat. Formerly something that fans would have to venture into spin-off territory to experience, the Final Fantasy series finds itself with not one but three mainline entries adopting real-time action combat (four if you count Final Fantasy XV) and a genuine Soulslike spin-off with genre veterans Team Ninja at the helm. The real-time/turn-based hybrid model of Final Fantasy 7 Remake is somewhat of its own beast entirely and a comfortable middle-ground, but in terms of the best real-time action combat in Final Fantasy it comes down to the battle of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI.

One is a spin-off retelling the events leading up to the original Final Fantasy and the other is the most recent mainline game in the series, both of these titles are surprisingly competent as action games despite having their origins in an RPG series known for turn-based combat. That said, Stranger of Paradise and Final Fantasy XVI each embrace a different combat style. While Stranger of Paradise utilizes a blend of the tried-and-true Team Ninja combat mixed with the Final Fantasy Job System, Final Fantasy XVI is a character action game akin to Devil May Cry, complete with one of its most important designers at the helm. As a result, one game is more accessible while the other has an incredibly high skill ceiling and a myriad of build craft options.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Side-by-Side Comparison

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin versus Final Fantasy XVI

Aside from both being games in the Final Fantasy universe featuring real-time combat, Stranger of Paradise and Final Fantasy XVI couldn’t be more different. For starters, one title features in-house development from Square Enix while the other is a spin-off co-developed by a third-party studio. Further, each game occupies an interesting spot in the series’ history in terms of one taking players back to the very origins of the franchise and the other representing its wide-open future. Ultimately, though, both titles are similar in that they willingly upset the series’ status quo and end up polarizing the Final Fantasy fanbase for the ways they buck franchise tradition.

CharacteristicStranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy OriginFinal Fantasy XVI
Release DateMarch 18, 2022June 22, 2023
DeveloperTeam NinjaSquare Enix Creative Business Unit III
PublisherSquare EnixSquare Enix
PlatformsPS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PCPS5
DirectorDaisuke InoueHiroshi Takai
Kazutoyo Maehiro
Combat DirectorNobumichi Kimabe
Hiroya Usuda
Ryota Suzuki
Review Aggregate Score68%87%
Total Sales1.65 million units3.07 million units
Combat StyleMethodical, SoulslikeCharacter Action
Combat or Story FocusCombatStory

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: 5 Must-Know Facts

Here are 5 must-know facts when comparing Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin‘s combat to that of Final Fantasy XVI:

  • Though both titles feature real-time action combat not typical of the series, they each abide by their own subgenre within the action-RPG umbrella. Stranger of Paradise is a Team Ninja Soulslike similar to its work on both Nioh and Nioh 2 while Final Fantasy XVI is a more traditional character action game.
  • Stranger of Paradise has a fairly strong commercial reception and is a cult favorite among Soulslike and action game enthusiasts, but critically the game did not fare well. Conversely, Final Fantasy XVI has a strong critical and commercial reception, boasting sales of over 3 million units and strong review aggregate scores.
  • Though Final Fantasy veterans like Tetsuya Nomura would produce Stranger of Paradise, the title is still a third-party series spin-off. Final Fantasy XVI, on the other hand, is the latest mainline game in the series and features development from Creative Business Unit III, the in-house team at Square Enix that features several veterans from Final Fantasy XIV‘s development.
  • Final Fantasy XVI‘s combat was developed under the guidance and design of legendary combat designer Ryota Syzuki, whose credits include Devil May Cry 5, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and other classics. Stranger of Paradise‘s combat designers are Team Ninja veterans who have along list of credits that includes the Ninja Gaiden titles from the 6th and 7th console generations.
  • Stranger of Paradise presents a very different take on the world and characters of the original Final Fantasy and then backs it up with gameplay more akin to a Soulslike than a traditional JRPG. Similarly, Final Fantasy XVI is the first mainline game in the series to completely abandon turn-based combat and party management.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Soulslike or Character Action

The action-RPG subgenre has a wide range of styles to pull from in terms of mechanics and gameplay, and the differences between Stranger of Paradise and Final Fantasy XVI do a great job of illustrating this point. Stranger of Paradise is very much a Team Ninja Soulslike in the style of Nioh and Nioh 2 or Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty, albeit one with a definitive Final Fantasy setting and class system. Players still must face challenging foes, be methodical in their approach, and carefully consider bringing the best strategy and tools for the right situation.

In comparison, Final Fantasy XVI is much more accessible and beginner-friendly, something that was likely intentional to ease longtime RPG fans into the idea of the latest mainline Final Fantasy being an action game. Ryota Suzuki’s combat direction helps FFXVI land close to his previous work on the Devil May Cry franchise while also being easier to pick up. That said, there is a considerable challenge available for those who seek it (especially in Final Fantasy Mode), but the game ultimately provides a significantly lower challenge than that of Stranger of Paradise.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Sales and Reception

Even though Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin would sell more copies than most other Final Fantasy spin-offs, it still pales in comparison to the commercial success of the mainline titles. Additionally, the title holds a mixed critical reception, with many reviewers acknowledging that the combat is the star of the show and the reason to play Stranger of Paradise. Not only does Final Fantasy XVI have a much stronger commercial reception with over 3 million units sold and counting, it also would end up being a critical darling and receiving plenty of praise for its excellent story and approachable mechanics. Even though it cut against what some fans were hoping for in a new Final Fantasy, critics largely praised the new direction for the legendary franchise.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Combat Designers

Stranger of Paradise may be a Team Ninja Soulslike, but it actually features direction and combat design from studio veterans that predate the Nioh games. Both Nobumichi Kimabe and Hiroya Usuda have several games from Team Ninja under their belts, with the likes of the Ninja Gaiden series, Dynasty Warriors series, and Dead or Alive games all featuring on their résumés. Final Fantasy XVI‘s combat designer is also an industry veteran with years of experience working at Capcom on popular franchises. Not only is Ryota Suzuki the combat director of Devil May Cry 5 (which many fans consider one of the best in the character action series), but he also is responsible for the legendary fighting game Marvel vs. Capcom 2.

Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin vs Final Fantasy XVI: Breaking From Tradition

Aside from both being games in the Final Fantasy franchise that feature real-time action combat, both Stranger of Paradise and Final Fantasy XVI are remarkable for the ways that they eschew franchise tradition in favor of trying something new for the series. The idea of a Final Fantasy Soulslike was an enticing proposition when details surrounding Stranger of Paradise first began to leak, and the game ended up featuring one of the most complex and intricate endgames along with some incredibly build diversity and min/maxing via the gear system.

Final Fantasy XVI is in a similar boat, abandoning the party management and menu commands of previous entries in favor of giving the player total control over a singular hero. Accompanying that significant change is one of the best stories in the franchise, and it’s arguably the main reason to play Final Fantasy XVI. Final Fantasy XVI‘s combat is an excellent merging of the worlds of character action games with the major elements of the Final Fantasy franchise, but the story and characters are still the game’s main draw for both action game aficionados and longtime series fans.

Bottom Line

Final Fantasy XVI‘s critical and commercial response underscores the argument that it’s simply the better game compared to Stranger of Paradise, and that should come as no surprise. With almost no exception, the mainline Final Fantasy titles traditionally far outshine the spin-off games. That said, Stranger of Paradise‘s cult following and continually growing community of players speak to the brilliance of the title’s gameplay. Though it was the subject of plenty of derision at the time of its release thanks to several memes (“CHAOS!”), Stranger of Paradise‘s story is also at least serviceable and features some interesting connections to the original Final Fantasy.

Regardless of Final Fantasy XVI being the superior game to Stranger of Paradise, comparing each game’s combat and main gameplay loop presents a different picture. Final Fantasy XVI‘s combat has a low floor for entry and a decent challenge on higher difficulties, but ultimately it sacrifices depth in favor of accessibility. Conversely, Stranger of Paradise‘s numerous Job classes, a ridiculously large amount of gear, multiple difficulties, and incredibly engaging endgame and build craft present an experience that features plenty to chew on for fans of action games, interesting combat systems, and Soulslikes. As a result, Stranger of Paradise undoubtedly features the best real-time combat in the Final Fantasy series.

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