|a game by
|Square Enix, and Cavia
|Playstation 2 (2004)
|7.3/10, based on 2 reviews
|8.9/10 - 7 votes
|Rate this game:
|Anime Games, Manga Games, RPGs, Drakengard Series
A game like Drakengard is what you’d get if you combine a hack and slash character action game with a flight simulator and then add some RPG elements to the mix for good measure. This unique combination of genres is tied together by an impressive plot and deep lore, resulting in a fascinating game that absolutely overcomes its narrative shortcomings.
The first game in Yoko Taro’s profound saga, Drakengard’s plot might not be to everyone’s liking, but there’s no denying that there’s a lot of soul put into this game’s development.
Most games are content with having a clearly defined gameplay loop at their core. Drakengard, however, is certainly not like most games. There are three distinct game modes that usually alternate mid-level: Ground Mode, Air Mode, and Strafe Mode.
Ground Mode plays similarly to the Dynasty Warriors game series: players control Caim, the game’s protagonist, as he beats hordes of enemies. Using three types of attacks, players can either use a slash, cast some spells, or tackle their enemies. Players can also power up their weapons and create combos – pretty much the standard character action stuff.
Air Mode is where things get trickier, as it involves Caim fighting alongside his dragon companion, Angelus. These segments will make you feel like you’re now playing some kind of Ace Combat set in a fantasy land – complete with evasive maneuvers and bullet hell sections.
Finally, Strafe Mode has Angelus fighting alone, with identical controls to Ground Mode. This plays with how the game handles leveling up, as Caim provides health while Angelus delivers increased attack power.
A Disturbing Fantasy
The world of Drakengard is as fascinating as its dark and mature. Expect some real heavy stuff to appear throughout the game’s plot – some of which are considered taboo by most people. This darkness has long been a trademark in Yoko Taro’s works, as we can see in games like Nier and its sequel, NieR Automata.
Set in a land known as Midgar, Drakengard has the player defending the Seals: instruments of the Goddess of the Seal that keep the world from falling into chaos. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Japanese RPG without some mention of an Empire fighting some other, smaller force.
In Drakengard, these two factions are known as the Union and the cleverly named Empire, “The Empire.” With the Union losing the war, it falls into one of the Union’s princes, Caim, to put an end to the Empire’s religious war.
There are five different endings to be found in Drakengard. Repeated playthroughs provide some much-needed info on the game’s setting and characters, so you might be stuck replaying this one for a while.
However, the combat can get repetitive after a while, a fact that makes playing through the game more than once feel slower than it actually is. Another point where we feel the game can be somewhat divisive is its soundtrack; while some players might enjoy the experimental-sounding tracks, it can quickly get on your nerves during long gameplay sessions.
Drakengard is a unique game that isn’t afraid to experiment a little with its gameplay and narrative. While the repetition can get a bit boring, the fascinating plot and engrossing characters are enough to keep most players immersed in Drakengard’s dark fantasy world.
- Amazingly good plot
- Great character and enemy designs
- Intense combat gameplay
- Good voice acting
- Repetitive gameplay
- Soundtrack is a mixed bag
What do you get when you combine the awesome fury of a Dragon with the mass slaughter gameplay personified by Dynasty Warriors? A fairly kick-ass game, that's what. Drakengard, one of the latest titles from Square-Enix, provides just such gameplay opportunities. You take on the role of Caim, a powerful warrior fighting to protect his sister Furiae, known as the Goddess, from capture and harm. Aiding him in this role is a mighty dragon, bonded to him in an ancient and powerful pact. Thus you set the stage for history, thus you set the stage for conflict.
Similar at first to Dynasty Warriors, prepare to deal with hordes of enemy foes dealing out basic combos left and right, with very little variation in the overall control scheme. At first, with only one character to choose from, and a simple weapon that only hits three times in a single combo, you'll be asking yourself, where's the fun? Once you slog through the first level however, you'll see the beauty of the game's mechanic. First and foremost, the game's experience curve gives you more than enough power in any given scenario, as long as you can develop your strategy. As you pickup new weapons (some 65 in all) and they increase in power (by defeating enemies) you'll see the combo strings leap into the double digits. Additionally, each weapon comes packed with a special magical attack. Featuring a timed charge attack during any given combo, it's readily apparent that one can kick some serious booty after just a short amount of practice.
Dragon combat only gets slightly cooler, giving you access to a new flight sim style mode that's challenging but also very destructive. When you're in a normal ground combat, you can also leap onto the dragon's back to torch the enemies with a single explosive fireball or unleash serious destruction upon the baddies with a torrent of dragonsbreath.
In the other areas of the game, Drakengard doesn't prove to be quite as hot. Graphically speaking, this game doesn't have the detailed backgrounds that prevent you from noticing how short the viewable distance is. Get used to enemies just 'appearing' in your sight all the time. Additionally, the developers at Square-Enix could've taken a page from Blizzard and featured an incredible wealth of color in this game, instead of resorting to the very (and I mean very) bland browns and grays that dominate Drakengard's color palette. Aurally, you don't have much else to work with, as most of the background music is repeated loops that quickly become tiresome.
When all is said and done, Drakengard, isn't a game that's really worth the upfront price $39.99. The dragon gameplay makes a good gimmick, and the story is strong, but for gameplay, it only has a Dynasty Warriors hack and slash system backed up by good experience gain. All in all, I'm enjoying it, but I wouldn't have invested in it' right away.