Drakengard 3 is a game that you shouldn’t box into the many other Japanese RPG/action games that are out in the wild. It may share the same game mechanics as fast paced, “kill ’em all” games from the genre. But as soon as you get sucked into the main character’s plight and the supporting characters around her, you’ll come to enjoy just how eccentric and off-the-wall everything is.
Your sole mission ties in with Zero, an Intoner who’s magical powers are crafted through the use of her musical vocal talents. Zero’s not a huge fan of a world filled with magic, which is why she sets out to off her powerful sisters in order to do way with it. Zero is one of the darkest “heroes” you’ll ever bear witness to. She’s ruthless, callous, vulgar and unrelenting in her quest to kill her siblings. Playing with such a dark and angry character like Zero is a nice welcome change whom you’ll quickly grow comfortable with.
The world around Zero is also just as interesting and worth paying attention to. Zero’s allies make up a truly strange brand of fighters who each have their own personality quirks. The sexual overtones emitting from some of these individuals is thrown right in your face as you meet them. There’s an old dude who just can’t stop talking about his man parts. Yes, that’s actually a thing. It may be oft-putting for some, but this is just one of the many ways that Drakengard 3’s story shocks you and keeps you intrigued. Zero’s respectful talking dragon and each of her sisters are all easy to grow enamored with. As the plot moves along, things start to get more serious and heavy handed. You won’t have to deal with the sexual innuendos and bloody sequences for too long. This is a game that’s split into two halves that several camps of gamers will appreciate in either case.
The graphics here aren’t incredibly amazing. The anime-inspired visuals won’t blow you away, plus the generic stock soldiers are too vanilla to be anything more than cannon fodder. The overall designs of Zero, the massive bosses, the dragon Mikhail, Zero’s allies and her sisters all look pretty cool in their own ways. You’ll come to love Zero more and more as blood splashes over her and sticks to her character model as she lays waste to more weak enemies. The characters are fun to gaze at, but the environments you’ll see them in are bland and far from inventive.
The constant slashing and banter from your teammates are nothing special either, but some of the game’s orchestral tunes are pretty decent. They aren’t particularly memorable, but you’ll come to enjoy hearing the better ones pop up during your gory battles from time to time. Only problem is, you’ll come to hear the same songs dozens of times and that does lead to moments where you’ll grow annoyed with them. There are good some tunes hidden here. It just becomes quite annoying when you have to hear a few of the less quality ones over and over again.
If you’ve ever played the last two games in the series or spent hours killing off hapless soldiers in the Dynasty Warriors games, you’ll know what to expect here. Zero is a capable weapons wielder who has access to a wide range of swords, spears and other metal weaponry. You’ll hop onto a stage full of soldiers and mash the attack button like a madman (or madwoman, in Zero’s case). Thankfully, Zero’s moveset and arsenal grants you new attacks and abilities that keep the action from getting too stale.
However, the problem that plagues most games of Drakengard 3’s ilk is present here – the formula wears thin pretty quickly. Enter a stage, destroy hundreds of soldiers, face off with a boss and then sit though a cutscene. The simple battles soon turn dull, which may prevent you from getting into the wild and zany plot you’d probably enjoy.
Taking the fight into the air would have fared much better if the controls got tuned up a bit more before release. The very nature of just maneuvering your dragon and targeting enemies is problematic to deal with. You’ll either have to deal with the same ol’, same ol’ ground battles or grow annoyed with the frustrating air encounters. Zero’s prowess is most definitely tied to the ground level, which is where you’ll want to stay (for better or worse). The long load times, punishing level checkpoints and sometimes brain dead A.I. allies bring the game’s overall experience down even more.
Drakengard 3 is a fun, yet ultimately flawed action RPG. The fun behind hacking and slashing for hours on end can grow tiresome from time to time, but the incredibly weird story and the outlandish ways that it’s told will keep you enthralled. You’ll just wish that the game itself was just as strong as the story it’s trying to tell.
If you’re a fan of the series, you already know what to expect. For those curious about it, you may want to use caution when it comes to such a repetitive gameplay experience.