A prequel to and re-imagining of the original Final Fantasy game, Stranger of Paradise tells the story of the "Warriors of Light," led by Jack, as they seek to eliminate an entity called Chaos from the world.
Jack and up to two teammates fight against enemies in various locales. Instead of a traversable world map, the game uses a hub menu of a map that skips directly to the player's dungeon of choice where they can play through the story or take on sidequests.
Stranger of Paradise does not feature turn-based fighting, battles take place in real-time. The game brings a lot of gameplay aspects like movement, exploration, and enemy behavior from Team Ninja's previous games Nioh and Nioh 2. Jack is able to parry attacks to mitigate damage, or even temporarily gain an enemy spell he can then fling back at the enemy.
As players progress through the game, Jack can slowly regain memories of various Jobs and use up to two in combat. Basic jobs can be unlocked by picking up their respective weapons. But Advanced and Expert jobs will have to be unlocked through progressing through the Job Tree until the player unlocks specific nodes near the bottom. Jack's companions will gain access to new classes themselves only after completing certain missions.
- Swordsman - Jack's starting class, wielding a two-handed greatsword in combat.
- Swordfighter - Unlike the Swordsman, uses a one-handed sword and shield. Neon's starting class.
- Duelist - A fast dagger user who can backstab enemies for extra damage. Jed's starting class.
- Pugilist - A fistfighter who gains more power the longer he punches. Ash's starting class.
- Marauder - A slow but very strong great axe user.
- Ronin - A katana-wielder who uses Iai-giri to deal heavy break damage.
- Lancer - Uses lances and polearms in combat, and can through them like a javelin at enemies.
- Mage - A basic mage who uses offensive magic, wielding a mace and shield. One of Sophia's starting classes.
- Red Mage
- Black Mage
- White Mage
- Dark Knight
- Void Knight
- Cyclic Warrior - Jack's final form after absorbing an embodiment of Chaos. Can unleash powerful elemental magic and change Lightbringer to Chaosbringer. Available after beating the main story.
Jack Garland unites with two other adventurers named Jed and Ash in the Kingdom of Cornelia, noting that they each have a similar crystal that marks them as Warriors of Light. Despite having some memory loss, Jack understands that they are on a mission to destroy chaos. The three men storm a dark castle where a dark knight sits on a throne. Jack attacks the knight and shatters its armor, revealing a girl inside with the name Neon who carries a similar crystal. Assuming the four Warriors of Light from the prophecy have reunited, the King sends them out to revive the elemental crystals and destroy Chaos.
The Warriors of Light defeat an old pirate captain, who points them to a dark elf named Astos. After storming Astos castle, Astos himself directs the Warriors of Light to a shrine where the Crystal of Wind is guarded by a monster named Tiamat. After defeating Tiamat, Jack uncovers another woman, this time named Sophia, but she carries a crystal too, making her a fifth member of the Warriors of Light. Despite the discrepancy, Jack follows Astos' guidance to hunt down the other shrines and defeat their guardians to restore the magic Crystals of Earth, Fire, and Water, hoping their restoration will save Cornelia and help them locate Chaos. After defeating each guardian, Jack and his party slowly regain memories of their past.
After returning home to the capital, rather than receive a hero's welcome, the King and the citizens blame Jack for unleashing more darkness across the land. Jack then decides to return to Astos for answers, but he provides cryptic responses again. Jack and his party later fight Astos himself, where they realize that they are not exactly Warriors of Light, but Strangers sent by aliens from a world called Lufenia to manage the balance between light and chaos, and then reset the world whenever either side's power became too great. Eventually, Jack started considering Astos as a friend, and wanted his help to change the endless cycle that turned Cornelia into a victim for Lufenia's experiments, but with each reset Jack and the other Strangers would forget about him, while Astos would continue to remember and developed a deep hatred for the Lufenians. With his last breath, Astos begs Jack and his party to become the real Warriors of Light and break the cycle.
Jack returns to Cornelia, hoping to break the cycle, but finds the King and his Prime Minister slaughtered by monsters who have invaded the capital again. Jack returns just in time to try to rescue the Princesses of Cornelia, but before they can leave the capital, another wave of monsters appears and attacks, slaughtering what remains of the townspeople along with the Princesses. After falling into despair, the rest of Jack's party suddenly attack him, forcing him to kill them in self-defense. Jack realizes that only by becoming the embodiment of Chaos can he break the cycle and free Cornelia from Lufenia's grasp.
Jack heads back to the original dark castle where his journey began, and finds a portal to a Lufenian outpost. The Lufenians try to reset his memories, but he fights back, destroying their barrier and then absorbing an embodiment of chaos into himself. With his new power, Jack decides to become the new avatar of chaos back in Cornelia, turning into the evil Garland who the Warriors of Light would face in the original Final Fantasy, with the spirits of his original party members becoming his Four Fiends. The group spends several cycles trying to create the conditions to make Warriors of Light native to Cornelia strong enough that they will no longer have to rely on Lufenia's schemes.