May 29, 2014

Drakengard 3 (Almost Complete) Review

Posted in video games tagged , at 7:09 am by riulyn

I’ve unlocked Branch D, which is the final bit of the game. However, I am nowhere close to getting all the weapons in the game, which is the requirement for actually starting it. I am woefully short on money so grinding needs to happen (why did I spend all that money on weapon upgrades that I didn’t need…) and this part is going to be a drag, since I don’t think the battle system is fun enough for many hours/day of battling. It’s no Ys or Muramasa in that department.

So instead of waiting like weeks/months for me to actually give you a complete Drakengard 3 review, let me tell you what I think now. I have expectations for Branch D based on vague musings by others on the Internet as well as the infamous Ending E of Drakengard 1. Branch D is probably not the reason most want to play the game, and for people who won’t like the game, they will hate the game long before Branch D. Therefore I feel pretty comfortable putting my review up now.

TLDR: Drakengard 3 is not one of those games you should buy if you know nothing about Drakengard’s reputation. It is NOT NieR part 2. It is aimed at a certain crowd and it does a decent job matching expectations. It doesn’t exceed them though and in a sense that’s a bit disappointing.

GAME SETUP

Basically this game is divided up into units called “missions”. Each mission will have combat with a goal to get a certain location/defeat a certain enemy. There’s a decent amount of forced fighting as many times a large room is a “trap” where you have to clear all the enemies in order to open the entrance to next passageway. The story sometimes comes from camp scenes though they aren’t many, and mostly through cutscenes during these missions. Right before starting a mission you have the “party” menu where you can buy weapons and items, upgrade weapons, change which ones are equipped. Side quests are a separate set of missions which are timed chest opening or loot collecting usually and some are unlocked by progressing through the main story while others unlock after previous ones are completed.

BATTLE SYSTEM

Let’s tackle the thing I struggled with horribly in the first Drakengard but found quite easy to understand in NieR: the battle controls. This game is an action game that according to the Internet plays like Dynasty Warriors. I have never played Dynasty Warriors so I cannot vouch for the truth in that statement, but it’s basically a game where you spend the majority of your time hacking at hordes of enemies. You tend to be a lot faster and smarter than your enemies, of course, and a crowd is like nothing for someone on you.

The controls for Drakengard 3 work fine. The 4 weapon types are all useful and weapon changing is smooth, though I mostly used swords as they had the best combo of speed and reach for me. There’s the ability to use part of your “stamina” bar to do a charged-up attack that varies depending on the weapon equipped and its level, as well as the ability to go into the “Intoner” state or a super-charged state where you do increased damage. The length of time Zero can be in the Intoner state depends on how much “blood” she has spilled.

Zero gets disciples over the course of the game and they are basically AI battle helpers. Except the AI for them is pretty bad so they don’t do a lot of damage. At least you don’t have to worry about keeping them alive.

The dragon combat is more varied than in Drakengard 1. You have the “shoot targets with fire” part of dragon combat. as well as the ability to hit it physically either by diving down and crashing into it or while on the ground swinging in a wide circle. In addition, the dragon can be another ally in combat in certain situations. The AI for the dragon is at least useful, unlike with the disciples.

If you are kind of horrible at action games like me, this game has modern conveniences not in Drakengard. You can keep a limited amount of healing items. There are checkpoints so if you fail you can return to that point with full health and items (they count from what you had in your inventory before you start the mission, even if you used some to get to the checkpoint). Of course, you can always replay missions or do side missions to level grind a bit.

Overall, it’s an action system that works well enough. It’s not very complicated and there is enough enemy attack pattern variety in my opinion to make it this game more than just button mashing. There is really bad slow-down at times, though it never caused me to screw up combos or whatever.

STORY/CHARACTERS

The story is what fans of Drakengard games expect. It’s not a “nice” or “good” one. The characters don’t care to tell you what’s going on. Zero is angry and extreme and doesn’t care about other’s feelings or misunderstandings. Well, she cares a little bit but she is very reluctant to show it. The dragon is really like a kid though he’s not a goody-two-shoes but mostly a charming idiot. The disciples are all types of twisted with some who will seem more disturbing than others. It’s a game where the characters can be sharp and witty, but they are mostly angry and crude and you aren’t really supposed to like them or feel sorry for them. I “like” the characters in that I feel like they give light to personalities usually “edited” out or not even contemplated for most games that try to be more appealing.

It’s a game where you move very quickly to the first ending (I think it’s too quick to be honest) and everything seemed straightforward albeit for a reason that doesn’t feel fulfilling. But the first ending also hints that there is more going on in this universe (I think the writer of this game is fond of doing that). There’s quite a bit more to play after the first ending and if I say more I’ll really spoil things.

The bulk of character conversations actually occur while you are on missions making your way through different parts. A good portion of it is about sex. Yes, Zero and these guys talk about sex a lot. It’s nothing graphic but it’s not treated sensitively either. Other conversations tell you more about Zero’s sisters. However, once again, this game holds back on the background. Supposedly DLC and novels and stuff cover these things. Overall the conversations are not particularly funny or eye-opening or whatever, but at least the Disciples get a little bit of personality. And it makes runs up linear-ish dungeons more interesting.

Since how someone feels about the story and characters is pretty personal, I can’t say how other people would like the story. I find it interesting enough but not amazing. It’s different and I like supporting things that are different. I wish it kept more of the humor of the beginning throughout the rest of the game, and I wish the sidequests would be missions where you could get even more character interactions or learn more about the world. If I were to compare this game’s story the original Drakengard, I would say the original Drakengard did a better job stirring up a dark atmosphere and giving some characters more demonstrated complexity. And if I were to compare this game’s story to NieR, I would have to say NieR is more satisfying in every story and character aspect. Then again, there was a difference in intention with NieR and Drakengard 3, so all I can say is PLEASE DON”T EXPECT DRAKENGARD 3 TO BE LIKE NIER! YOU WILL BE VERY DISAPPOINTED!

OTHER

  • The graphics do look PS2-quality. The character designs are great though, which is why that is so disappointing.
  • The music is alright. It doesn’t tug on heartstrings like NieR’s music did to me, despite being in the same style.
  • The English voice acting is perfect in my opinion.

Overall, I really can’t recommend this game to most people. Without a love for the Drakengard flavor of writing, there isn’t enough in the other parts of the game that are “worth” playing for. So while I’m enjoying the game (save for the weapon hunting and money grinding I’ll have to do), I am very hesitant on recommending this game to anyone, especially at it’s current price and technical performance. However, if you love “the Drakengard way”, I think you’ll find your money’s worth in this game.

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2 Comments »

  1. JJKMagic said,

    Thank God I do love the “Drakengard way” so I really love Drakengard 3 despite all its weaknesses. I really appreciate that you consider different people’s tastes though and don’t just right out bash the game because you personally can’t recommend it.

    • riulyn said,

      I’m glad to hear you are enjoying it! I definitely like the game but I also know some people who would find very little enjoyment from it (such as my brother). That’s what I thought about when I wrote up this post.


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